Alice, along with her friend and fellow herbalist Lucinda, has started running a home ed foraging and herbal medicine group. On Wednesday I went to their first one. It was great! I like identifying plants and then finding out how you can use them to help you v, it’s really really interesting. I love hanging out with Alice, she teaches me so many helpful bits of knowledge. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from her and I learnt even more yesterday.
In the morning we went on a walk around the farm, collecting all the wild herbs and plants as we went.
Together, Alice and Lucinda explained how to work out which family a specific plant is in. The answer is that every family has a unique code. For example the mint family code is 554: 5 united sepals, 5 united petals, (2 up, 3 down) and 4 stamens, (2 long, 2 short).
All mints also have a square stalk, opposite leaves and a very strong smell. If you can tick off all these factors then you should be able to determine that your chosen specimen is in the mint family. Did you know that most of the herbs we cook with are in the mint family? These include rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and marjoram.
We gathered a fresh and colourful spring harvest of daisies (poor man’s arnica, for bumps and bruises), dandelions (every part is edible), hawthorn shoots (tender and flavoursome in salad), ground-ivy (warming), red dead nettle (good on wounds), wild garlic (pungent and spicy), cleavers (like a natural pipecleaner), nettles (good for so many edible and medicinal uses), ladies smock (my favourite and in the mustard family), elder leaves (inedible but good for bruises) and much more!
In the afternoon we got busy making! We made a herbal salad with the daisies, dandelions, wild garlic flowers, young hawthorn shoots, ground-ivy and a bit of spinach (to bulk it out a bit). We made sauerkraut with nettles and dandelions as well as cabbage. We also prepared a spring tonic, an infused vinegar, a daisy and elder leaf ointment, nettle and wild garlic pesto and dandelion fritters.
Overall, I really enjoyed my day. Thanks to Alice and Lucinda for being so willing to share what they know, which is very valuable. Next time I’m out and about and I cut myself I’ll be delighted because I’ll know what to do: Chew up some red dead nettle and apply it!