In Search of Shoots

At this time of year, when the countryside is so richly green, most of our bodies are craving those green, leafy veggies that are so fresh and satisfying.  You may have some of those delicious and extremely healthy greens growing right in your back yard and you don’t even know it!

Every day of spring brings more shoots, flowers, birds, sun; all evidence of how nature has provided for us all if we take just a little time to know and respect our surroundings and how they work with one-another .  Who wouldn’t love an excuse to get out and enjoy the day?

My walks around the farm are now taking twice as long as usual.  I am always stopped dead in my tracks with something beautiful.  I am compelled to always carry my trusty old camera that works 75% of the time.  (Poor old guy- how many years of dust can a camera really take under its lens cover?)

Here are some of the flora that I encountered today and some of the stars of several of our meals this week!

Stinging nettle?  Yum! Nettle grows in nitrogen-rich soil and has a unique tendency to cause burning pain to the skin if you brush against it.  It has sticky, histamine-filled hairs on the stem and leaf that cause this, but if you can look beyond that and wear long sleeves and rubber gloves, now is the time to feast on its tender shoots!  If you should get stung, one effective remedy is Achille millefolium, a.k.a. wild yarrow.  You can rub the leaves on your skin and it will help tons.  They don’t really grow in the same type of soil, though, so I often have the cultivated variety, with the yellow flowers planted in areas around the farm, especially near the nettle patches.

Nettle is not a weed that we let hang around in the vegetable fields, but after years of fighting it, I have finally embraced it as a blessing to have access too on the farm. I harvest bags full at this time of the year for fresh eating and t dry for tea infusions.  Nettle has very powerful health benefits and the taste is similar to spinach and asparagus all in one.  I steam it with a little salt, or add some red pepper flakes, (it was delicious with some over-wintered scallions that were found in the field!).  You can serve them as a side dish as you would spinach or add them to a tortilla roll-up with other ingredients.

Nettle, rinsed and spun dry in a salad spinner

Nettles and green onions. Be sure to steam the stems until they are very tender. (these could have steamed a little longer, but they were still delicious.)

Into the pan with a little olive oil and a lid ( the wetness on the leaves will help them steam)

If you would like to learn more about foraging, there is still room in a workshop this weekend with foraging expert, Casey Dahl at the Sustain Jefferson Gardening Workshops (www.sustainjefferson.org ).

Here are a few more pictures from the farm-

Prunus ‘Americana’ (American Plum)
Sweet treats in July.

Un-gathered rosehips

Wood Anemone

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