Monday, May 16, 2011

Contingency Plan For Summer, 2011

Cold. Wet. Windy. That describes our recent weather and also, the weather for at least one more week.

Shades of 2009, the year with little or no sun from June through mid-August. That year, my crops failed because my gardens were turned to wetlands. The saving grace, of course, was the wild bounty. Although my beans, chard, carrots and others failed, wild edible plants managed to pull through just fine.

While perennially optimistic, I must admit that this year is stacking up to be a repeat of 2009. Since such things are impossible to anticipate and we’ll only know for certain after the fact, it makes great sense to go ahead and plant our gardens but also, spend some extra time in woods, fields, wetlands, seashores and lawn edges, foraging for wild edible plants.

One of my favorite summertime favorites, and one that will soon be of a size to harvest, is goosetongue, or, as the old-timers would say, “shore greens.’

Goosetongue, Plantago juncoides, has long, slender leaves and a seedstalk very similar to common plantain. Great steamed or chopped and mixed in simple salads, this versatile plant freezes well and also lends itself to home canning.

So in only a few weeks, I plan to go out and pick enough goosetongue to can. It’s best to pick this plant early, before the seedstalks emerge. That circumvents the need to separate leaves from seedstalks.

While I fervently hope that summer 2011 will turn into a sunny, pleasant season, it’s good to have a contingency plan for just in case it doesn’t.

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