Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Glass is Never "Empty"

Yesterday, Deus Ex Machina and I went on a kind of "Where's Waldo?" hunt in our local area. Of course, we weren't looking for the infamous chameleon, Waldo. What we were actually in search of is spring foods.

It's possible that we were a little too ambitious. There's obviously not a lot going on ... unless one looks a bit closer.

Deus Ex Machina was pretty thrilled to see that this patch of stinging nettles is thriving. It's growing next to a stand of Japanese knotweed, and it's spreading into the knotweed, too. It's also growing right in the sandy hill - where nothing else seems to want to grow anyway.

Nettles are used extensively in herbal medicine - most often as a spring tonic ... which makes sense, as it appears to be one of the first plants to start greening here in the spring.

We also found Japanese knotweed buds and young sprouts of curly dock, mustard, and dandelions, which are all still a big small to harvest, and a number of medicinal plants. In addition, we found burdock shoots, which means there's probably some usable roots in the field somewhere, and we're hoping to find some, because we have a couple of interesting sounding recipes for burdock root.

We didn't come home with any foraged food - this time - which is okay, because we still have a pretty decent supply of stored food (including sixteen of the almost five dozen chickens we raised last summer), another pick-up with our CSA winter share, and some things, like the Jerusalem artichokes we have in our yard, are ready to harvest. So, we have plenty of food for now, and from the looks of things, there will be several spring greens that will be ready within the next three weeks.

Although we didn't find any food, we didn't come home empty-handed, either. We brought back a camera-full of pictures that will help document what's available and when. We brought home a better understanding of what's available right around the corner.

And we brought home a big load of firewood. With a snowstorm predicted for tonight, the wood will be very welcome.

As to the title of this post, I subscribe to Dr. Weil's daily digest, which means, every day, I get an email from the Dr. Weil website with some insightful piece of health advice. Most of the time, the message in the article simply validates what Deus Ex Machina and I already practice. Such was the case with this morning's note, entitled Four Ways to Beat Pessimism.

The general message of the note is that having a positive attitude is healthier, and it's not just something I believe in theory, but something I practice on a (mostly) daily basis.

The message is: "Be Happy - Live Better ... in that order."

I couldn't agree more.


  1. Lucky you, with your stinging nettle find!! I buy dried nettle leaves from a vendor at Inglewood market - just love the tea and it's such a great supportive tonic. It's amazing how much amazingness is right outside our back doors (and in our homes)...we just have to look and acknowledge!..ok, and gather ;)

  2. I get so excited when I see stinging nettle!! It's one of the herbs I MOST love <3

  3. I do recall reading that the stems running through the leaves of burdock are edible (though I'm at a loss to explain how to prepare them), and that burdock leaves are a great treatment for burns. Might be a good plant to transplant close to the house in case of emergencies.

  4. As almost everyone east of the Rockies knows, we had a pretty mild "winter" this year. Down here on Planet Georgia, I found edible plants growing along exurban sidewalks back in january, so this is a good year for foraging I think!

    The (planted) lemon balm is about to start running riot, so I need to prune it back… and it makes a nice stress-relief tea too.