Ah, Springtime: Edible Wild Foods, Flowers, and Honeybees... a Photo Journal and Videos

Well, Hello There!  Little Guy!  Jumping Spider on Peony - a Rapture unto itself.

Ah, the Green has come and done its overnight coloring of the world around me.  Spring is such a glorious, lush time with everyone, two-legged and otherwise, coming to life (even if it seems we do go from winter right into summer now in Virginia).  We get more daylight and our blood flows in our veins the way the sap rises in the trees.  We are more active as the days grow longer, waking from our slumber...

Here are some pictures from my past two weeks of basking in the green I toil for...

Home-made Prayer Flag made with fabric scraps,
blowing prayers for creativity, community, and joy on the wind to you.

Lots of plants are showing up each day as their season comes (and goes).  Wild edibles are available every day now and I try to incorporate them into my diet often.  I feel freshly picked food is the most nutritious you can get (whether from your organic garden, the farmer's market or the wild).  Wild food especially gives you nutrients often not found, or not found in similar quantities, to cultivated food, particularly grocery store food since it's usually not that fresh.  Grow your own!

Ramp and Japanese Knotweed tops saute.
Washing Plantain to add to a salad.

Learn to identify the common wild edibles and glory in the fact that they grow in your yard, woodland, or borderland without any effort on your part.

You don't even have to make a fancy meal or recipe with them.  Here I have topped some store bought, "healthy version" frozen pizzas with some wild edibles:  Sarsaparilla tip in top photo and Dandelion greens on the pizza at bottom.

For an added delight, learn which flowers are abundant and edible and harvest them if there are plenty enough that you can harvest and still leave lots for the bees.

In spring there are many such as Redbud, Locust, Wisteria, Violets, ...

Wisteria flowers scenting the air and delighting the pathwalker.
New hive, Balsamic, on the left, and Monkey on the right, ready for a split, swarming, and honey removal.

Salad of Wisteria flowers, Violet leaves and flowers, and Wild Onion leaves.

Chomsky says "Meowhello!"

Whoa.  To be a bee...  Iris at the peak of the wave, its Yang time.

Iris closed, riding the wave into the trough, its Yin time.

Time for seeding...Echinacea and Black Eyed Susans - for the Butterflies - seed bombs!

L'Atelier, the art studio, nestled at the woodland's edge
flanked by a Butterfly/Hummingbird garden beginning its season of bloom.

Erg.  What ones hands look like after manually disposing of Mealybugs on the Apple Espalier in the above picture.

Mathieu napping in the back yard after a day of landscaping.  Something this Wood Element gal needs to learn to do...

"Our calling is where the world's hunger and our deepest gladness meet." - Fredrick Buechner

Lorax, quiet for the evening in its surround of Maple-leaved Viburnum.

"Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. 
Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, 
until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. 
Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worth of rescue" - Martha Postlewaite

On the winds to you!


Japanese Knotweed - Lime Bars and Native Mason Bee Housing - A Primer on this Ubiquitous Weed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed Lime Bars

Japanese Knotweed utilized as part of a Mason Bee House

I just love utilizing invasive non-native plants.  I can feel good about harvesting them because I know it helps other plants that are native and/or not invasive by keeping down the growth and spread of the invasive AND I know I won't hurt the plant's ability to survive (try as I might). In some instances, like Garlic Mustard, you just can't eradicate it even if you want to.

Up Close

It's that time of year when Japanese Knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum sends up it's new stalks from the Earth.  These can be eaten like Asparagus, though they also work well in deserts, and have a lemony type flavor, as we shall see...
The roots are used medicinally and are called Hu Zhang in TCM; they have been used for an assortment of issues such as cancer, cystitis, Lyme, and traumatic injury (see a qualified practitioner for this).

To make this delectable desert:

Harvest the stalks before they have done much leafing out, remove any leaves and the very top where the leaves are forming (these can be added to an omelette or the like); chop the remaining stalks up into small pieces.  You want about 4 cups of chopped stalks, a little more or less is fine.

Leaves and tops to use for another dish.

Chopping into small pieces.

Splitting the larger ones lengthwise before chopping.

Preheat oven to 350.  For the bottom layer:  melt a stick of butter in an 8" x 8" pan, once melted mix directly in the pan with the butter:  one cup of whole wheat pastry flour and one cup of raw cane sugar.  I like to use all organic ingredients so I'm not ingesting pesticides or contributing to their being sprayed on farms and poisoning the water and land (along with the food).  Mash this dough evenly into the bottom of the pan covering the entire bottom.  Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool so it hardens.

The top layer mixed and ready to pour onto bottom layer.

In the meantime, make your top layer:  mix 3 eggs, 1 c. raw cane sugar, 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 c. lime (or lemon) juice until well blended then stir in the chopped stalks.  Pour this over the cooled bottom layer and spread evenly.  Bake one hour, turning oven to 400 for last 15 minutes.  Make sure the topping is set up; it might need a little longer cook time. 


If you build it they will come:  the Mason Bee House on the art studio, L'Atelier.  Netting is to keep birds out.

A...n...d....  another use for those stalks after they die back in the fall (they persist through winter so you can harvest them right up into early Spring) is housing for Mason bees.  These solitary bees nest in tubes, whether that be hollow plant stalks, holes beetles have drilled in trees, or anything similar such as holes we drill or tubes we put out.  They live for 6 weeks in the Springtime right at the moment fruit trees bloom.   
***If you have fruit trees, you want these bees on your property.***  They are easy to care for and do a better job with fruit trees than honeybees because of how they gather nectar.

Drilling the starter holes in 7" pieces of Fir 4" x 4", then on to using a hand-held drill to finish them.

Mason bee cocoons gifted from a friend, thanks Laura!  Males on left, Females on right.

Mason Bee cocoon, they hatch from the nipple end, so this needs to face out if placed in a tube.

Here is a great book if you want to learn more.  Here is one of many houses you can purchase for them.
If you want to make your own, they prefer 5/16th size holes 6" deep (don't use pressure treated wood).  And of course, if you have access to a stand of Japanese Knotweed (bamboo also can work well), you can harvest your own as I did (seen collected in the 4 black pots in above picture of large Mason bee house).

A simple, smaller house can be made too, such as this one upper left.



Telling the Truth through Rorschach Collage

"Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know." - J.R.R. Tolkien

'Cosmic Mitosis' 2015

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

'From Dust, To Dust' 2015

 “You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.” - Beverly Rubic

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake." - Francis Bacon