Friday, July 4, 2014


Wild Plants And Wooly Bears


I’m just now finishing up the last of the goosetongue, Plantago juncoides, that I picked almost two weeks ago. I got so much of it that I home-canned 13 jars, gave a copious amount to a neighbor and had enough left for daily eating for several weeks. Goosetongue keeps well in the refrigerator for a long time. To use, just rinse in cold water to freshen the leaves.

Hitting goosetongue just right is key to easy cleaning. By that I mean harvesting the leaves just before the seedstalks appear. After that, separating the leaves from seedstalks becomes quite tedious.

But today, on July 4th, I see that other plants are coming along nicely. Weeding my garden now always means lots of meals of great, fresh green vegetables. Lamb’s quarters, amaranth and quickweed, or Galinsoga, are all of a size to be useful now. And they all taste more or less like spinach.

I must add that I have a new “wild” plant that I started from seed last winter. Hundreds of years ago, the English cultivated a wild member of the goosefoot tribe called Good King Henry. The botanical name, Chenopodium bonus-henricus, says it all. It’s a Chenopodium, just like lamb’s quarters. And it tastes something like it. This has been an important experiment for me, since GKH is a perennial. And as such, it can be relied upon to provide food year after year.

But having never tasted the plant, it was a gamble devoting garden space to it. Now I see that it was a good bet indeed. Next year I plan on adding another row of GKH.

The season progresses quickly and it’s hard to grasp that we are in midsummer now. And with that, my time at Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor begins anew. I’m there teaching wild plants every Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Although these sessions are aimed at clients of the inn, the public is invited, at no charge. So if you would like to partake of a casual, and hopefully informative discussion and plant walk, feel free to show up at the inn by 1:30 every Tuesday from now until the end of August.

For now, enjoy your summer and don’t forget the insect repellent.