Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice

Gladiolas from the kids' garden

Today was a beautiful solstice day! I love to roll with the seasons so I like to honor each of them in some way. So today we all started in the gardens! It has been unusually hot here for the month of June but some nice thunderstorms in the evenings lately have been helping to keep the plants happy!

My youngest talking to the bees this morning on the Bee Balm
 We had so much fun relaxing together! My husband and I drinking coffee, while laughing at one of our dogs, watching the birds, and doing a little pruning and harvesting.

Harvest from the herb garden 
 The best part of the day was a short hike at Medoc Mountain. One of our favorite places to hike around here. It is always gorgeous out there!

A brilliant blue dragonfly who wanted his picture taken! 
 My oldest, that was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease, loves to hike but since her flare up she has been very fearful to attempt it. She didn't want to come, but I told her I won't let this disease make her stop living her life so she had to go but we would go at her pace. She made it and was so proud of herself when she finished! I was proud of her too! 

My oldest after the hike! All Smiles!!!
 My intention with this blog post was to talk about St. John's wort since this was the traditional day to harvest it, however there was none to be seen on our walk today so I will save it for another day. I hope that you got to get outside and do something amazing for the first day of Summer! I hope your entire season is filled with bright, cheery goodness!! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lamb's Quarters and My Love Affair With the Weeds

Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album)

Lamb's Quarters was one of the first wild weeds I ever tried. I was attending Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism in the lovely mountains of NC. We had all met for class at the home of our school's director that she lovingly named Soulflower Botanical Sanctuary. As we were harvesting herbs in her garden she pointed out that we should gather a good basket of the young tops of the Lamb's Quarters. She had the regular kind and the most beautiful magenta colored ones too! It is super fairy fun to take the magenta or light green powder from the young leaves and rub it on your cheeks. Instant natural glitter!! They tasted like Spinach and Sweet Peas all rolled together. Needless to say, it was the trigger for a love affair with weeds I never knew I could have. 

The light color on the top leaves is the powdery "fairy dust"

Lamb's Quarters is also called Pigweed and is in the Goosefoot family. That is a whole lot of animals!! It can be found everywhere. Most gardeners pull it up and throw it in the compost pile, but there is so much nutrition there going to waste! It goes way beyond our tasty Spinach in nutrition having more calcium, iron, phosphorus, protein, and vitamins A and C. Not only are the young leaves edible but if you let it go to seed you will have a huge amount of Lamb's Quarters the next year and you can use the seeds kind of like millet.  Some Native tribes collect the seeds and grind them to make flour for bread. 

Young tops

They are mostly used for food but the Native Americans used it for stomach issues and to prevent scuvy. It was also popular with them and the Appalachian mountain people for use as a laxative.



I have cooked them in soups and stews, mixed them in with other greens, but my favorite way of cooking them is to saute them in a little butter (you can use olive or coconut oil) and scramble them into eggs. Powerful breakfast! 



It is important for us to get to know our lovely weedy plant brothers and sisters. It makes them valuable. It makes us more connected. It makes us second guess our use of toxic weed killer. It makes us see our vast sea of grass as food. Most of them have more nutrition than their store bought relatives and are found almost anywhere. My teacher, Ceara, said one of her teachers taught her that we should eat something wild everyday. I believe that with all my heart. I eat weeds.

References

A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve

The Cherokee Herbal by J. T. Garrett

Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson

Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke

Lesson 10 from Rosemary Gladstar's Science and Art of Herbology course