Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our Natural Garden From The Forest

The forest garden surrounds our homestead!
I have been studying A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guide) guide book for the last few days. Early spring is when your wild plants are at their best. That is why our horses love the new grass better than any other. Full of vitamins and minerals. Oh, so good after the long hard winter here in upstate NY!

Elderberry is a favorite of mine!
 Our forest garden is packed full of food. The nice thing about it is that it comes up on its own. No planting or care from us. Here is some of the foods I have listed to use this year from my natural garden from the forest. Finding them has been the most enjoyable part of living in the forest!

Everyone should be able to recognize this one!

Burdock Root - In spring cook like potatoes.
                      - Early spring leaves can be boiled and served with butter. (Remove the tough rind).
Dandelion Greens - Use in salad (can be cooked)
                  Flowers - Fritters, wine, syrup
Plantain - Use in salad
Mint - Use in salad, tea or jelly.
Wild Grapes - Early summer boil the unfurled leaves, serve with butter. They can also be used by wrapping meat or other stuffing and cooked.
                     - Fruit in the fall for jam, jellies, juice and a natural pectin.
Blueberries - Fresh, jam, jellies, dried, in baking.
Chokecherries - Fresh, jam, jellies, dried, in baking.
Black Cherries - Fresh, jam, jellies, dried, in baking.
Crabapple - Jam, jellies, preserves, natural pectin.
Hawthorns - Jam, jellies and tea.
Slippery Elm Bark - Tea, the bark can be ground into flour.
Red Sumac - (RED NOT WHITE!!!) Hard berries BEFORE heavy rains, cold drink.
Blackberry - Fresh fruit, jellies, jams. preserves, juice, tea, dried, baking, salad.
                  - Fresh shoots - Add to salads.
Maple - Syrup, sugar.
Elderberry - Fritters made from the flowers.
                  - Fruit - Juice, jellies, jam, baking, cold drinks.
Spruce Needles - Chop fine and use for tea. Anytime of year.

Blackberries are plentiful!

This is not a complete list by any means. I have plenty more to add. It gives you an idea of some very basic, but easy plants to look for. Remember in the days of the Native Americans, they lived with these foods and more, every day. In the NY area, there was a bountiful food supply. And still is, but nobody is paying attention to it. Now they are considered weeds.

Do you know what kind of wild foods are in your area?  Are they edible? Can you identify them? Do you know how to cook them? Remember all plants have some toxins in them, so make sure you know what parts of the plant are safe to eat. I hope I have encouraged you to at least go out and look in your yard and surrounding area. Find out what is growing out there. Take your children and make a game out of it. Have fun doing it!

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole

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