All posts by eppiclife

Hi!

Early Manitoba Spring Harvest

Spring arrives quite delayed here in the North. Though we are on the south edge of Manitoba, our growing zone is still close to 3, which means any head start we can find, such as micro-climates, warming the soil, providing shelter or greenhouses, the sooner we get to taste delicious, organic produce.

What I have discovered though, is that Nature has adapted quite well to this climate, and provides all the nutrients our body needs in the earlier months when we still get a potential frost at night. What follows is a short list of some  wild or perennial edibles in my garden! You will be surprised, that you may have some growing as well!

Stinging Nettle. A favourite among wild foragers. Grows in rich soil, spreads with creeping roots that are invasive. Prepare cooked as stingers will disappear after cooked or dried. Use in stir-fry’s, smoothies (raw), soups,  sauces or pesto’s as you would spinach.

Pansy’s. Not exactly wild, but a resilient, self-seeding plant comes out with flowers before the tulips and daffodils! The flowers are edible and kids love to add them to salad!

Day Lily leaves. The whole plant is edible. Tubers, flower buds and open flowers. We often enjoy the flowers as a snack during a day in the garden. The leaves are great in a sauté. They have a hint of lemon flavour. They appear wild in many places throughout N. America. Learn more here from Hank Shaw.

Bergamot, Bee Balm or Wild Oregano. Before it sends up it’s lovely purple flowers, this full flavour spice is a welcome addition to our meals.  I often forget to use it because we also grow oregano. But I know this plant grows wild here in MB and it has so many health benefits! It will cure a scratchy throat in no time! I plan to get creative with this plant this spring/summer!

Strawberry leaves! This is a new one for me. I have only heard of the medicinal uses, dried as a tea. Have yet to taste them. But these hardy perennials are green before the snow melts! They just love our climate! Already in reproduction mode, they will be producing berry’s soon enough! Check out this helpful health info.

Yarrow! I have yet to eat them as a raw green, but I have heard that when they are young, they are much less bitter!

Also available in my garden are Dandelion greens, Poppy greens, Mint, Holly Hock leaves, Chives and Green Onions, Cherry blossoms (soon) and likely others I am not even aware of! I look forward to the creative mixtures we come up with in this urban family farm!

Tasty Nettle, Urtica dioica

Spring! It’s finally here in Northern Canada. After a long winter, of plenty of rest and hibernation, it’s time to clean the house of your body/mind/spirit. It is the time for renewal and new growth! Stinging Nettle will help you clear out toxic influences that cloud your way.

In Oriental Medicine, spring is associated with the wood element and the liver and gallbladder organ energy systems. The imbalanced emotion is anger and the balanced state is the ability to think through, make decisions, plan and put them into action. Have you noticed that when your plans get thwarted, the most common reaction is anger?

“When in doubt use Nettle!” – David Hoffman

I am blessed to live in the city and be surrounded by Nettle. I have it growing naturally along the rich soil of the river bank as well as filling in my whole raised garden (because it loves manure). Once you have it, it will take over, so beware! Of course the best time to collect this treasure is spring when the nutrients are strongest.

Early spring is also a good time to collect some roots such as dandelion and burdock as all the sugars are still tucked in the ground ready to push up and out into the plant.

Fresh Spring Tonic

Rich in vitamins A, B complex, C, K, calcium, potassium, iron and many other trace minerals.

Combine fresh Nettle, Chickweed, Cleavers and Dandelion root and leaf with added mild spices or ginger for a soothing, energizing drink.

Steep as a tea or blend as a smoothie for an extra jolt of minerals and pure energy!

This drink helps remove accumulated rubbish from the body caused by much inactivity over the winter months.

To learn more about the healing properties of Stinging Nettle check these sites,  Herb Wisdom,  Dr. Axe

To fall in love with this powerful plant, listen to Rosemary Gladstar!


Evening Primrose for Hormonal Health

Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis

Believe it or not, it seems as though every part of this plant can be used. The leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens. The roots can be boiled like potatoes and allegedly taste like sweet parsnips. The flowers are sweet and can be used in salads or as a pretty garnish. The young seedpods can be steamed and the ripe seeds can be roasted in an oven for 15 to 20 min. at 350° and used on bread or in salads. You can also sprinkle the roasted seeds over any dish like pepper.img_4171

Ways to use Evening Primrose

This beautiful plant is known as a woman’s herb. It is especially helpful with PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, acne, depression and irritability.

Apparently evening primrose oil is an extremely rich source of an omega 6 fatty acid called Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). Getting enough GLA is crucial to support overall hormonal function within the body. In fact, many women with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) struggle to convert the fats they eat into GLA.

img_4240 img_5323img_7431

When you make a salad dressing or are eager to get some omega’s in the form of Flaxseed Oil and Evening Primrose, please make sure your oil is fresh. Flaxseed oil goes rancid quickly, and I learned the hard way. Taste your oil before mixing with precious seeds!

Since I learned the hard way. Here is another way to use those precious, mood boosting seeds!

Hormone Boosting Avocado Dip/Dressing

Mix 1/2 avocado, 1 Tbsp of fresh ground flaxseed and 1Tbsp ground evening primrose, 1 tsp dried wild greens (such as smartweed, mallow, nettle, plantain), dash salt,  2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup water 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp honey, and 1/2 cup (more or less) olive oil.

img_6373

Rosemary, my soul plant

img_6327I like to learn the latin names of the plants I’m getting to know. Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis has such a gentle name for such a powerful, strong plant.

She is native to the Mediterranean region and is part of the mint family! Her name came from the myth that mother Mary layed down on a bed of white blossomed rosemary bushes, with her blue cloak and the flowers opened and turned blue. The shrub then became known as Rose of Mary.

I could look for specific research on this plant and the myriad of health benefits to this amazing plant. It is resilient and can sustain itself on just the wet air from the sea! But, there is just as much importance in the experience a person has with a plant. The plant is a teacher of itself and if we care to listen, meditate and respond to it’s movements, we can be changed.

I just made these mini viles of rosemary sun-infused oil. Simply by handling the dried leaves and stems, the aroma has lasted now for a few hours on my hands! This plant to me is many things. It is invigorating as well as calming.  It inspires my mind to action and also goes deeper into the underbelly of my thoughts and starts to loosen the stuck parts. Emotions will often surface for me if I take a bath intentionally with rosemary essential oils. I find I will get more vivid dreams and memories of my past will surface.

Is this all possible with one plant? Yes it is. Plants have chemical properties. And Rosemary has the ability to lower cortisol levels simply by inhaling the oils.

I struggle with this fight/flight response on a daily basis and so perhaps having a vile in different spaces of my life would be beneficial, especially the car!

img_6333

 

Plantain, Plantago major

This summer was an epic crop of plantain. We have two large hugel beds which retain a lot of moisture. We had a very wet summer again, so along with the nettle going crazy, we had a healthy patch of plantain growing right along side. The leaves are edible raw as well as the seeds. When going for my morning nettle harvest, I would inevitably get stung. The plantain is a super quick aid to stop the burn. Simply chew it up and place on the red spot.

img_4297

img_4299

Plantain is well known for its antimicrobial properties and ability to draw out infection and speed healing, which is why it’s so often recommended to relieve insect bites and stings. Since I had so much, I decided to make an infusion so I could benefit from it’s healing properties throughout the year as a salve. This is really helpful to have on hand when going on hikes or anywhere you face mosquitos, as it has the ability to take the itch out of the bite. It’s also wonderful for scrapes, cuts and bruises. My kids use it throughout the summer. In the winter, it can be used as a moisturizing lip balm.

I am continually learning new things about a plant. And plantain is a good one to research. It is often the plant easiest to recognize and the most available in the city, often growing in the most disturbed places. Herbalists consider plantain to be a “sacred herb” and it’s called the “Mother of Plants.”

img_4107

Plantain and Olive Oil infusion made this summerimg_6475

Winter Solstice Sore Muscle Salve

cranberry-picker

artwork by Nathalie Parenteau, Cranberry Picker

I have been growing a lot in my knowledge of plants and preparations this year. It truly is a magical experience in every way. I find it incredibly soothing to commune with the plants while making medicine. I must say, it is one of the most empowering experiences I have participated in. To see others as well as myself experience the healing benefits of the plants, roots, barks, flowers and fruits. All these magical parts, willingly working together to give us assistance in our struggles here in a broken world.

I was privileged this summer to go up to the Boreal forest and gather my own Labrador tea leaves, willow and a few juniper berries. I have yet to collect my own crampbark. But I now have a place to go for next year.

There are so many anti-inflammatory plants. I keep my eye out for them since I have struggled with joint pain and many other pains throughout my life, especially in the last few years.

This infusion recipe comes from the incredible herbalist, Beverley Gray from the Yukon. Her book, The Boreal Herbal has been just what I hoped for in a resource book. Teaching me about each plant, it’s growing habits, it’s incredible health and medicinal benefits and also it’s historical and cultural relevance to the Indigenous people. I am so grateful for the work she has done and many others in recording this knowledge for others to learn from. What a gift. And here I share my adapted version with you!

Boreal Muscle-and-Pain Relief Oil Infusion

  • 1 part willow inner bark and leaves
  • 1 part juniper berries, crushed
  • 5 parts crampbark
  • 1/2 part Labrador tea leaves
  • with Vit E oil
  • 4 drops Peppermint oil

img_1479-1

Basic-Salve Recipe

1 cup infused oil

2 tablespoons beeswax

1/4 teaspoon vitamin-E oil (2 capsules)

4 drops benzoin oil (optional)

Essential oils (optional)

Double-Boiler Method

  1. Measure out herb-infused oil.
  2. Melt beeswax in the top of the double boiler, then add the infused oil and stir with a stainless steel spoon.
  3. When the oil and beeswax have melted together add vitamin-E oil, benzoin, and/or essential oils. Pour the mixture into a measuring cup.
  4. Carefully pour into clean, sterilized jars.
  5. Wait until the salve has fully cooled before putting on the lids.
  6. Cap and label your salve.

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium

Delicate in nature, yet so powerful in action. Yarrow is a wild plant that is resilient beyond belief. Once it finds a home, it will endure every kind of abuse. It’s bitter nature stimulates the body to action. Yarrow has a sweet, soft aroma and can be harvested throughout the entire growing season. We have used it in countless ways. From treating skin wounds to drinking as a warming tea in the winter. It aids in depression and slow digestion.

Our rabbits treat it as a highly prized treat. I have also made it into a brew for beer. It’s uses continue to expand into all areas of our life.  When left, it will expand into the garden and your body with welcome beauty.

I have a new tea mix this winter that combines the digestive action of Mint and Yarrow with the antioxidant strength of Goldenrod. A delicious blend that keeps not only the body fighting against the common cold and sluggish digestion, but also the mind and spirit against the common emotional lows of the winter months.

img_5916