Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Wild Plants

Wild Plants And Wooly Bears

The ground has thawed and a few of our hardier, wild edibles have become available. Yep, winter has loosed its grip on us and a new foraging season has begun.

First, I spotted several evening primrose plants. The red-tinted basal rosettes make finding these easy. Another simple trick involves searching to the downwind side of last years dried stalks. When the seed capsules explode, these biennial plants literally cast their seeds to the wind. A hand-held trowel suffices to dig the pink-topped, white root. And believe me, if my garden hadn’t already provided parsnips, evening primrose would certainly grace my table for the next few days.

Next, ice has receded from the banks of my farm pond, allowing access to clumps of cattails and the little, starch-filled sprouts that protrude from the rootstocks. But the thought of wading in ice water and pulling roots from soupy, gray clay gives me chills. All the same, it’s nice to know that these somewhat novel, food products are available.

Finally, although this seems way too early (not complaining, just observing) for them, the green tips of daylilies have risen to a point where, if need be, they could provide one of the first, wild greens of the season.

In truth, I’ll wait a bit before going out and digging or picking anything. Let the plants grow a bit larger. Besides, it’s cold and wet out there. But come the next warm, sunny day, I expect to have my first, wild meal of the season. And that’s an annual event that means a great deal to me.

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