Saturday, May 9, 2015

Springtime Edibles On Sale Now

Okay, the wild edible plants aren't really on sale. But now that I have your attention, let me announce that all of the early spring wild edibles are ready now in most of Maine.

Lingering cold throughout April, followed by unusually-warm conditions in early May have served to make emerging plants grow like rockets. Also, the timetable for many plants has gone askew. For instance, all plants follow an emergence pattern, as in one comes out, followed by another and so on, in a regular sequence. But not this year.

For the first time that I can remember, everything has come around at once. Coltsfoot, dandelions, purple trillium, ostrich fern fiddleheads, stinging nettles, blunt-leaved dock and false Solomon’s seal are all up and ready now. And while I haven’t looked for it, I’m certain that wintercress is up as well.

What does this all mean? Well, it’s good that we get to take our pick of favorite wild plants, but it’s kind of too bad that emergence dates are not spread out. It’s akin to giving children their Christmas presents two weeks early. Anticipation, the great magnet that draws us afield, is nowhere to be seen.

However, there are ample wild edibles that haven’t come out yet, plants that are likely to follow their predictable emergence tables. So all is not lost.

For those who put up wild plants by canning of freezing, the next week or two will certainly be a busy time. And if the task seems a bit overwhelming, just harken back to those bleak days of winter, when a package of fiddleheads or a canning jar of dandelions helped to dispel winter blues. So yes, it’s all worth it. Persevere, I say.

Here’s something positive, at least for those living in the Midcoast area. While I have spent much time in the woods and fields this spring, much of it in prime whitetail deer habitat, I haven’t noticed one deer tick. Usually by May, I have found at least two or three ticks crawling or already attached to me.

This is no excuse to forgo nightly tick inspections. Sure, it’s a nuisance to inspect every inch of skin before going to bed. Sometimes I’ll forget and have to get up and go in the bathroom and do my check with sleepy eyes. But I do it. And so should you.

In the end, it’s far better to conduct nightly tick searches and find no tick, than to not do the searches and find a tick already embedded and fully engorged.

Happy foraging season, my friends. It’s going to be a busy one.