Monday’s Pickin’s

So on Monday, while my husband was sacrificing blood, sweat and energy (I didn’t see any tears) in the fields, tilling, then seeding next years garlic bed with a cover crop, then weeding and fertilizing all of the vegetables that we have planted, I spent my time pickin’. With apologies to my daughter Kara, the musician, who is probably wondering what stringed instrument mom has decided to take up, I’ll explain that my form of pickin’ involves harvesting plants or parts of plants.

Some of the plants I harvested will be used for food, and others will be used for teas, tinctures, and oil infusions which will then be used in my skin care products. Here is a list of Monday’s Pickin’s and how I will use them.

Stinging Nettle – Nettle is a great antihistamine and is used to treat allergy symptoms. I dry the leaves to make tea, and I also have some that I have made into a tincture. Fresh Nettle Leaves can also be added to soups, stir fries, and my sister even made a pesto with them. I always use gloves when pickin’, cleaning, and chopping nettle and I would not eat raw nettle (unless it has been dried). It is good to know, though, that if you get stung by nettle, drinking some nettle tea will take the sting away. Nettle is another “Wonderful Weed”.

Lemon Balm – Lemon Balm is an herb that is part of the mint family, and it has a wonderful lemony fragrance. I planted a couple of plants several years ago and found that it is very prolific, in fact it has taken over areas in the yard where I have not planted it. It has become a weed. As a tea or tincture lemon balm is know to aid with sleeplessness and anxiety and be good for digestion. Added to creams or ointments lemon balm is said to be good for treating cold sores and insect bites. This is the first time I have harvested lemon balm. I am currently making lemon balm tincture and will dry some, as well, for making tea and infused oil.

Lavender – Lavender is an herb that is most known for its wonderful fragrance and relaxing properties. The following link describes more about lavenders benefits http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_lavender.htm

 I discovered that one of my lavender plants, that I thought had died, was instead producing beautiful, fragrant flowers, so I decided this was the perfect plant to harvest from. The rest of my lavender plants at the farm are in full blossom and being heavily foraged by the honey bees, so I will leave them alone for now. The lavender blossoms are being dried, and although they could be used for tea, I will probably just continue to add them to my soap.

Garlic Scapes – If you have read my previous post you will know that garlic scapes are the long stem that grow up on hard neck garlic varieties. If left intact they will eventually produce a flower head on the garlic and then go to seed. Most garlic growers cut the scapes as they are beginning to form. It is thought that doing this produces larger garlic bulbs. Letting garlic go to seed is not necessary for reproduction because the bulbs can be split into cloves which are then replanted to produce next years bulb. Although most people are still not familiar with eating garlic scapes, in recent years this trend is becoming more widespread. When eaten raw they have a full garlic flavor, but this quickly fades the longer the are cooked. In the past couple of years I have made pesto with them and added them to a few dishes. This year I have made a garlic scape/dill cheese spread, pickled garlic scapes, grilled scapes, and, since they are only available for a few weeks of the year, I put the rest in the freezer to have throughout the rest of the year.

Blue Berries – It’s good to know that we don’t have to travel the world over looking for the best super foods, this one grows right where we live (Michigan). Check out this link to learn about the health benefits of blue berries http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8  The blue berry bushes that we planted three years ago are doing very nicely and are a little more productive every year. So far we have harvested a couple cups of berries, but we will continue picking small amounts daily to get them before the birds do. If not eaten fresh the blue berries will be frozen for future use.

Wild Rose Petals – One of the wonderful discoveries when we purchased our property (the farm) were these small rose bushes that grow wild along some of the wood line. They produce delicate, pink flowers that have a true rose fragrance. This is the first year that I have harvested any of the flowers, but I have found in drying them that they retain their wonderful scent. If you visit our farm when they are in bloom it is likely that my husband or I will pick a rose and hand it to you to smell because we enjoy them so much. I plan to use these dried rose petal either in an oil infusion or directly in a soap recipe.

Not everything that needed it (currants, raspberries) was harvested on Monday, but the day grew hot, and I, not having as much stamina as my husband, opted for a refreshing swim in the pond.

Until next time 🙂

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