I am not rummaging through seed catalogues this spring. I already have my cultivated garden plots assigned to the basic staples of kale, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, green beans, tomatoes, cantaloupe and herbs. I source my seeds locally so I am locked into that protocol.
In these months before spring, I am turning my research attention to the wild garden outside my back door. I already know about wild asparagus, berries and mushrooms like the tasty morel. What intrigues me is the less well-known wild lettuce varieties that can be gathered not just for food but for very effective medicine.
Wild lettuce, in the picture above, grows abundantly in the naturalized areas around our pond and in the chapel garden. I want to gather it for spring salads but also to make a tincture to use as a natural pain killer. I have not tried this natural herb myself and want to subject it to my own personal field research. It is said to be such an effective medicinal plant for pain that it is also known as opium lettuce. We shall see… If there is a natural alternative to addictive pain meds, I am all for finding it–especially when it grows around my burn pile.
Another common weed that is actually a medicinal herb and food source is purslane [above]. This herb grows among the green beans and other cultivated rows in my garden and must be dug out to keep it from taking over. It will be handy to know how to use it rather than throw it on the composting heap. It supposedly is very high in vitamins and can be sautéed in butter or eaten fresh in salads. This fleshy plant is slightly tart when eaten fresh.
I will also be gathering pine pollen this spring as it is another healthy supplement that can be eaten in smoothies or on cereal. But what particularly interests me is that one source said it was effective in fighting radiation sickness. As radiation levels have already increased in our eco-system from nuclear accidents like Fukushima, Japan, taking a natural supplement to counter that radiation is a good idea.
I love the idea of food shopping in the wild. No credit cards needed.