Broad Leaf Plantain
Most of us in this area have seen this plant in our yards, and sprayed or yanked it out, thinking of it as an annoyance. Did you know they actually sell supplements of this nutritious plant?
What an amazing edible weed. The leaves are best in spring when they are soft, but edible all year round. I may have to try some in our juicer (I will let you know).
The seeds, though, are what interests me right now. These can be ground into a flour and used to make bread, muffins, or griddle cakes. Check out my backyard find in the image below!
So stop spraying this amazing plant, and start harvesting!
As we come to the end of the growing season, it is time to start preparing for next year's crops. One of my favorite things to do is collect and save seeds. It is amazing what an incredible sense of abundance one gets when saving seeds.
Our lettuce did very well in the garden boxes this year, and I let the plants go to seed. Yesterday I cut off all the tops and prepared to save the seeds. After over an hour of pinching off the tops and rolling each pod in my hand, I put aside the task for a moment. This might be a good task to share with the kids at the Art Garage. Many people don't know how to save seed, or even that they can. I remember when I was shown by a man in Montreal how to save the basil seeds off my very overgrown plant. I remember being fascinated and was pleased when I was able to grow a second garden full of basil the next spring. My basil here in Peoria is on its seventh cycle, although this year we had a lot of challenges so we may lose our seed line.
If you are buying seed, it is a good idea to buy the non-GMO variety. Not just because of the unknown effects of GMOs, but because one of the most prevalent modifications is the inclusion of what is referred to as "the Terminator Gene." Yes indeed folks, that is the name. It was patented by Monsanto, and is still used in their seed lines. The only function of this gene is to stop the next generation of plants. So if my lettuce, for example, had the terminator gene, none of my seed would sprout. It would be sterile. This is why many ecologists called the alarm signal on GMOs. It was feared that this gene could infect neighboring crops due to cross pollination, and without the ability to produce new crops from their seeds, we could face a food shortage, famine, or the end of our natural food supply. What a horrible scenario.
We won't entertain that too long.
Instead, let's look at the power of growing our own food, and saving our own seed. What is more empowering than to be able to feed yourself and your family. This is one way of being free. It is also a beautiful way of sharing in God's bountiful earth.
So don't pull out the plants because they have reached their seed stage. Let them give back for years to come. And be sure to show your kids this miracle of nature.
This seems perhaps like an odd entry for a first post in a blog, but I have been thinking for months about how to bring more connection and activity to the garden spaces supported by the Community House Network. Our garden boxes at the Community House themselves, are just one of the spaces where we grow edible plants.
The Art Garage Garden has been there since our first year back in 2018. This all started from my own very unique approach to composting. I simply toss any unused veggies over the side of my porch and low and behold, my first garden came about. When Spring came around I noticed a bunch of edible plants. I didn't know what they were but I created a garden and that was the start. They turned out to be Butternut Squash.
I had a couple of years where I saved seed to plant more squash, but this year I let it pass, I had so much going on. I did however, have a surprise squash of a different type. I wasn't sure what it was until my beautiful neighbor Melody showed me what was growing on her side of the fence. I guess the old Halloween pumpkin I threw over the edge had some leftover seeds. Now we are ready for this year's Halloween event.
I have really been wanting to get the kids involved in the garden. There have been some spurts of activity. We had some success planting old potatoes, and we have had quite a few volunteer tomatoes, but we are particularly successful in growing weeds.
Today a few of the Art Garage kids stopped by and were bored, so I invited them to come pull some weeds with me. As we were pulling weeds I was reminded of a plant I learned about long ago, I realized that several of the plants we were pulling up were this delicious plant. I went back out and gathered them up. Lamb's Quarters. So I sautéed them slowly, and yum delicious.
It left me wondering what other delicious food is growing wild in my yard. One of the advantages of not using weed killers is the backyard becomes a veritable garden without any effort at all. God's great miracle at work.
So I will start sharing my experience with our wonderful edible world in this blog.
Recipe for coconut fennel squash soup: A good recipe I discovered was Coconut-Fennel Butternut Squash soup. Use Light coconut milk to cook the squash, you can bake it first and use the pulp after if that is easier for you, soften the fennel with some sweet onion if you like, you may also add some curry powder. Blend in a blender and it is delicious. Add liquids to make it the consistency and of course salt to taste. A little lime goes well too. That is about how I do a recipe, sorry no measurements.
Why pay for salad in plastic containers? Go forage in your yard! God it good!