It is April 23rd (Happy Earth Day yesterday!) and I am patiently awaiting Dandelion greens, Wild Violet leaves & flowers, and Wild Leeks. I am heading out soon, with my yogurt quart container bucket and trowel, to see if the mighty Spring Leeks have popped up big enough to dig.
It has been a long winter and a hard won Spring for us Waaaay Northern New Yorkers. Today is day 3 of sunshine and no snow floating down. The ground is finally bare, save for a few pockets of the "white stuff" here and there, on the northern sides of trees, hills, etc.
*After a long winter of heavy foods, our bodies long for light and fresh. Our body cells crave the nourishment from the Wild Ones in our lawns.
The 4 plants surrounding Mother Earth (image above):
Dandelion is a liver lover. She helps to promote bile flow from the liver into your gall bladder and on into the small intestine. This bile helps digest food, keeps you regular, helps balance gut microbial health, and so - so much more. Bile is a good thing. Dandelions are a good thing too. This Spring: enjoy the greens raw or saute' very-very lightly, eat the yellow flowers, and learn about the root for harvesting and use in fall and winter (Shhhh, forget I said that naughty word). Dandelion is loaded with chlorophyll and beta-carotenes.
Wild Violets are Springs gift of flavor, color, and Vitamin C. Our bodies love vitamin C after a long, dark, cold winter. This is why I love citrus fruit by the time February rolls around. No, citrus is not local, but sometimes a girl has got to do things to survive. Vitamin C is a scrub brush for the body, a bit of Spring cleaning for you cells to perk things up, get firey Spring into Summer metabolism revving, and boost the immune system after the cold, dark days. Feel free to eat the greens and flowers in salads. See below for *sustainable harvest info. Always leave plenty for reseeding and regrowth year after year.
I just read a blog post on Wild Violets and how they are the bad ass weeds of your lawn. (From the post: One of the most difficult weeds to control in the lawn is wild violet. This native plant may look cute and dainty, especially in the spring when it produces pretty purple flowers. But in reality it is an aggressive weed with an unusual flowering quirk that results in thick mats of leaves that can choke out your lawn.) Yes, I was and am laughing quite loudly. An aggressive weed?! Look out folk, the violets are coming to get you! Seriously people, violets (and dandelions) are pretty color in the sea of green. Who wants a perfectly groomed, institutional like lawn. Nothing like some wild flowers to break up the never ending grass AND violets only grow to a low height... no mowing needed where violets take over. Seems like a win win to me: color, food, no mowing required.
White Pine: Placed here because I Love White Pines. They are a Tree of Wisdom. Pines are evergreen, like I need to tell you that. Their green-ness all winter long keeps the landscape colorful and is the hope of the Spring green to come. Their needles are high in Vitamin C. Harvesting to make winter tea (be gentle when you make tea, keep it covered while steeping. See link above.) is a dose of Vitamin C.
Wild Leeks: I will keep this info quick & simple. I love Leeks. There is much info on Leeks here on my blog, just do a search (Dandelion as well). These Spring beauties are a gift to digestion, the intestines, the liver, cellular health, and life in general. Eat raw, saute' very gently, add to soups and stews (I add Leeks after the soup or stew is made and the heat is turned off). Just enjoy them, bad breath and all.
Please do so with extreme consciousness of only harvesting what you need for right now's meal. Do not ever over pick - over dig the Leek patch. Go to a different patch for your next meal. I really freak when I see people harvest huge pails of Leeks (or any wild plant) with no regard that they just destroyed the whole patch. Be kind. Take only what you need right now.
My April 23rd Waiting For The Wild Ones Spring Tonic
- 1 organic lemon
- handful of fresh, organic cilantro
- local, raw honey
- well water (no chlorine or flouride)
- Juice lemon and place juice in blender. I scrape out the lemon peel with a grapefruit spoon and add to blender.
- Add 2 cups water to blender. Carefully rinse citrus juicer and add liquid to blender. Do not waste anything.
- I eat a chunk of the lemon peel. Good nutrients here and anti-cancer antioxidants.
- Add the handful of cilantro leaves and stems to blender.
- Add 1-3 tbsp. local, raw honey.
- Cover and blend to liquidy consistency.
- Let settle a minute or two and pour into a quart canning jar. Rinse blender carefully & slowly with gentle low stream of water, from top of blender down, to save every bit of goodness and pour the "cleaning water" into your quart jar. You should have a quart now. If not, fill the quart. Enjoy.
I do not add ice cubes to the blender in Spring. We are trying to warm digestion as we move into the warmer weather. Iced drinks squelch digestion and contribute to poor digestion, reflux, etc.
*Please harvest very responsibly and never take more than 5-10% of the patch of wild foods. Other beings need to eat. The patch needs to be able to restore itself for sustainability for the next 7 Generations. Nature is not providing just for you. Be kind. Be gentle. Be conservative, caring, and Love the Earth's bounty.