Plants have it figured out. They know when spring is here, when soil temperatures are just right for germinating seeds and when it’s time to bloom. At least I’d like to think that’s the case — climate change and all.
Here in coastal Northern California spring is synonymous with a myriad of plants and their respective life cycles. The first sprigs of miner’s lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, I find for our salads, plum, cherry and apple blossoms filling the skies and streets, ripening lemons and the first calendula blooms.
Dormancy is slowly giving way and the seasonal pallet shifts from hardy greens to spring charm. With it is a zest that is tonic for the senses and celebration for the simple things in life.
Hats Off to Spring, 5 Foraging Forays:
1. Bring blooms inside. Get vases and clippers ready and prepare to bask in fragrance and color. Think outside the box, often the more whimsical and unexpected the more fabulous the display.
2. Plant seeds for late spring and summer harvests. Foraging has taught me that sometimes the plants growing outside the garden are just as good and more nutritious as the typical garden fare. Grow your own miner’s lettuce and even weeds such as purslane from seed. These seeds can sometimes be hard to find so now is the time to consider which seeds you may want to gather for future use.
3. Add fresh herbs such as rosemary to dishes and drinks. For me, fresh is always best but sometimes an herbed syrup is a treat. (The rosemary in this photo was harvested from my neighborhood where it’s growing for free.)
Herb Syrup for Cocktails and Other Beverages
Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat stirring all the while until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add a sprig of rosemary or herb of choice. Let steep for about 1 hour.
4. Blend what is left of winter greens and cool weather crops such as snap peas with tender spring finds such as miner’s lettuce and lamb’s quarters. Add flowers such as calendula for color and fun.
5. Grow what you love to eat and learn to identify plants in your neighborhood and community worth adding to the table.
*Dedicated to my father. August 14, 1942 to February 11, 2016.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” – John Muir
Just like plants, my dad had it figured out. He knew that happiness and strength of mind came from his time spent outside. Fishing, walking or simply sitting and watching nature. May we all find solace and peace in our gardens and the gardens beyond the garden.
Best wishes to you all for a happy spring, Emily.