spring is apparently here, came in like a lion a couple weeks ago. we have been digging up a lot of roots, making tinctures…and homemade root beer! it is made with the sweet birch sap we collected, all day on the woodstove you simmer the sap along with a bunch of birch twigs, burdock root, sassafras root, dandelion and yellow dock roots, and some astragalus. also, maple syrup. briefly fermented, it makes a delicious spring tonic. nothing like the crap they pass off as root beer these days, which is basically (gmo)corn syrup dyed brown and artificially flavored-in a can.
yesterday i planted 8 blackhaw plants, 6 elders, 1 hawthorn and 2 black currants. it was vey invigorating. the plants look great, i ordered them from st. lawrence nurseries. next i’d like to replace a few of the fruit trees lost in the ice storm. i also took a seeding expedition through the woods, tossing shade-loving medicinals seeds everywhere i went. i’m like johnny herbalseed over here! one of my main objectives is to restore medicinal understory plants to the property/planet, many of which are in danger due to overharvesting or massive habitat loss.(like gated 2nd home communities)
and, the ramps are up. wild leeks. they are so very cheerful, waving their lily-like leaves in the wind coming off the river, growing well in leaf mulch or sand, very much in community. i like them pickled or in a quiche-you take your ramps, and some baby nettles and other wild greens or spinach, and some eggs and some goat cheese-voila! oh, yeah, and bake it. i also like wild onions, but that may be onion overlaod for the faint o f heart!
on that foraging expedition i also encountered bloodroot which is so very delightful in spring, the curled up leaf like a little shawl aorund the flower stalk. and i met for the first time dutchman’s breeches-one of the most hilarious flowers i’ve seen in a while. i like flowers that are evocative or sexy or weird. i used to think flowers were a waste of time and i was all business-“grow food! forget about those stupid flowers!” now i see that flowers make the world go ’round, and i especially love flowers which can be used for medicine. i still roll my eyes at vast, wasteful displays of annual pansies and overfed hydrangeas or fussy hybrid roses, but i see many plants as food or medicine now, for the mind and senses not just the digestive system. i’m a little more pollinator-centric in my garden decision making than i used to be. “practical” is a very relative term depending on who’s calling the shots.