Everyone can turn a deeper shade of green

This blog is dedicated to all those looking to deepen their green--whether you are making a commitment to a greener lifestyle and need help taking the first steps or whether you're already a practicing tree hugger who is looking for practical advice on what steps to take next. Over the years, I've heard all the good intentions and all the excuses. I've also seen my fellow environmentalists sabotage the good intentions of others. I am making a commitment to you, dear reader, wherever you fall on the spectrum, to help you take the next steps to fulfilling your commitment to the earth, to your health, and to your well-being. Stay tuned for articles and interviews.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Love your weeds

I'm a weed-eater. Some of my friends think I'm a little crazy, but, thankfully, I've found a great community in this suit-and-tie banking town. Friends who love a good lambs quarter lasagna or nettle tea. Each year brings more nuggets of wisdom.

dried clover
After a workshop on pollinator gardens in March, I vowed to the bumble bees in my modest neighborhood that I'd wait until April to mow my lawn for the first time and I'd mow the front and backyard on different days. Ever since I found out that plain old, garden variety clover is medicinal, too, I've been harvesting and drying it for a subtle, sweet tea (sweeter than crimson clover, for sure).

fresh clover and plantain

Earlier this week, I woke up feeling kind of blue and decided to carve out time in the garden, which quickly turned into a backyard foraging session. The back yard desperately need to be mowed before the impending thunder storm, but I couldn't let such a rich harvest go to waste. Clover harvesting with bumble bees, followed by the revelation that the plantain leaves in my yard were enormous and screaming out to be put to good use.

I had heard over the years that plantain (not the green over-sized banana, the "weed") was good for skin conditions and digestion. this lovely, useful weed is also known as "white man's footprint" because it will grow anywhere Europeans settled, which was...well...everywhere.

I wasn't sure what the best way to preserve the plantain would be so I did some quick searches on the internet and one of my newer books.  I tend to look for sites that provide some scientific information (like this) and cross check it with other sites (like this) and maybe a book (see photo below) or a weedy friend. Plantain and dandelion are pretty standard, harmless "garden variety" edible weeds, but you need to always make sure that you are 1) using the right plant and 2) using the right part of the plant.

In the end, I decided to make an infused oil that I will later turn into a slave (with the addition of beeswax). Why a salve? I have had eczema since I was a kid and it usually turns up as a rash unrelated to anything in particular. I also seem to be sensitive to most of the commercial creams that are supposed to help with eczema, especially on my face.

plantain in oil...check out that gorgeous green!

I rinsed and dried the leaves, took a clean quart jar, filled it with the ripped up leaves, muddled them, then poured a light cold pressed virgin olive oil over the top. I labeled the jar (in two weeks I'll forget I did it and I'd hate to throw it out) and have it sitting out on a shelf. Stay tuned...I might be organized enough to document the salve-making process.

see book on left...stay tuned for dandelions