While attempting to figure out 'what's next' (Build a kitchen instead of renting? Go work for someone else?), Spring came along and told me to hurry up.
The month of April and the first half of May saw me house & dogsitting which conveniently offered plenty of time to hike around local wooded areas giving myself and the dog some much needed exercise. While we walked (or in Folly's case, chased wild turkeys) we watched the ground for constant new growth and did a little soul searching.
Earth Day today. In between tending vegetable and flower seedlings that will eventually be planted in gardens and pots, I've been taking daily hikes while I'm dog-sitting to explore and scope out this years foraging possibilities. I've found more ramps than I'll ever be able to process or consume (send me an email if you want to purchase any) and am using the time watch Mother Nature unfold from winter into spring. It snowed today but I'm going by the calendar date, not the weather forecast. Morels are on my wish-list for 2015 and I think I may have found a few places to keep watch in the next coming weeks. I could be sitting in an office, or standing in a kitchen, but playing in the soil seems like the right place for me to be right now.
I had to Google-fu this plant. While looking at pictures for another mystery green this one popped up which I wanted to ID anyway. It's Bloodroot. Has some medicinal properties, probably poisonous. The red sap was used by Indigenous People's to dye fabrics. Really distinctive leaf shape and unusual flower in that it blooms often before the leaves unfurl.
This plant was a stumper for me. Really textured leaves. Almost like spinach but larger with deeper ridges. Another Google-fu for spring + weed + rosette turned up common teasel. Those thistles (I think I've been saying it wrong my entire life - should be teasel??) you see in late summer/early fall with the purple tinge? This is the plant they come from.
Before asparagus, before rhubarb, and before morel mushrooms there are wild leeks. If asparagus is the King of Spring then the ramp (aka wild leek) is the Prince. A prince more like Harry then William with a wild streak that just loves to bare it all in the naturalness of its surroundings. Strong and stately, with leaves that stand above the forest floor, the ramp is the first vegetation available for harvest after the winter thaw.
The ramp, formally known as Allium tricoccum is also known by many other names including: wild leek, forest leek, spring onion, or wild garlic. As you can guess, ramps look and taste like garlic and onion. A much sought-after occurrence in the food-lover world, the hike alone to find these spring temptations is worth adorning rubber boots and an orange safety vest. I forgot my small spade on my first day foraging but on the second day I was ready for digging. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful spring morning.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.