A few days ago I was perusing the vegetation at Mississippi Market and I ran into this:
Which immediately made me picture this weed in my boulevard:
Burdock plant – commonly mistaken for rhubarb if not further inspected.
The Mississippi Market display, above, combined with my uncanny deductive abilities led me to believe that the roots of burdock can be eaten. So, naturally, I’ve done some research and found that not only is burdock the plant that led to the invention of Velcro, but it has a long history of being eaten throughout the world, and is currently still popular in Asia (if you’ve ever seen “gobo” on your sushi, menu, that would be it!).
Burdock is a type of thistle and, as such, is related to the artichoke. Because it’s a biennial plant, the first year it builds up the root system and the second year it produces flowers and seed. It looks like the ideal time to harvest the roots is at the end of the first year, when the plant has built up the root system, although some say you can harvest the roots from when the plant is 2-4 months old to right before the flower stalks appear the second year. Prepared the root by scouring the dirt off the outside (not peeling, because this greatly reduces the nutritional value) and cooking it however you want: stir-fry, boil, roast, deep-fry. Some recommend par-boiling first to help with tenderness and reduce bitterness.
The immature flower stalks can be pealed and eaten raw or cooked, which apparently tastes like artichoke. I think that’s what I’ll be doing with this plant since it’s in its second year – and, yes, it has taken me that long to research it. Bite me.
Burdock has also been used medicinally for centuries for tons of hippie-stuff like supporting liver function to cleanse the blood, and it has largely overlapping medicinal value with curly dock, which I wrote about here.
Anyone out there have experience eating or using burdock? Tell me about it!
I grew a couple of rounds of oyster mushrooms from my oyster mushroom kit, and even harvested some spores from the Second-Round Mushrooms to try to inoculate my own substrate (which may or may not be a fail, I’m not yet willing to admit defeat). The mushrooms that were growing were drying out a bit, so I put a plastic bag around the kit to retain some of the moisture. I then proceeded to ignore the kit in preparation for, and through, my trip to Bolivia, mainly just assuming that the mushrooming had run it’s course. Imagine my gluttonous delight when I’m neatening up my shelving around the mushroom kit and find this:
I think the only thing tastier than oyster mushrooms are surprise oyster mushrooms.
My front yard does not get enormous amounts of sunlight, which I found out last year after planting ten tomato plants, four pepper plants, three okra plants, and two eggplants. Yeah. It was an educational – and depressing – summer. So this year I’m holding back on planting uncontrolled amounts of those delightful treats and experimenting with less sunshine-sucking plants. One of these experiments is mushrooms.
Okay, not those kind of mushrooms.
After doing some research, I figured out that it’s really hard to find mushroom spawn around here. Eventually I found this kit from Eggplant Supply (great for kids and Hippies alike!).
I didn’t have any idea how quickly mushrooms grew, but check this out, and keep in mind that two photos were taken each day (except the first):
So cool! My local Co-op sells Oyster mushrooms for 29.99/lb. The kit promises around 1-1.5 lbs of mushrooms, so at $20 a kit, it’s a pretty decent deal. Not as good a deal, however, as foraging in your local Nature and finding one for free.
Mac is a Bad Boy.
…but you can’t take the hunt out of the dog.
This is Mac. He’ s a hunting dog. Generally, he hunts pheasants and grouse, but when it’s not hunting season he amuses himself with hunting the house/yard wildlife. Flies, bees, rabbits, garter snakes, mice and…yes…squirrels.
Since I’ve known him he has been largely unsuccessful in his home-hunts. Once there was a sparrow that somehow got in the house, and he was instrumental in herding it back outside, and he certainly has captured his fair share of flies, but yesterday morning luck was on his side. When I crawled out of bed and opened the back door to let him out to do His Business, he bolted and captured the squirrel who took a half-second too long scaling the fence. You should have seen how proud he was, and how reluctant he was to let it go. You also should have seen the fleas on his face from the squirrel.
After the capture, I finally realized why he loves the squeak of squeaky toys. :-\
I do feel very bad for the squirrel. It had to be put out of its misery because of some serious battle wounds. But, honestly, despite my fencing, and netting, and fretting, the squirrels are still munching on my garden and digging up my seedlings and transplants. So I can’t help but feel a little proud of Mac: Defender of My Garden.
I thought all was lost...
Two of my blueberry bushes rose from the dead!
Last year I planted three blueberry bushes. I read their tags, talked to the salespeople, did no research, and planted them. When the snow finally melted a few weeks ago, I was saddened to see that two of the little fellas did not make it. I found out that over the winter, as the ground is accumulating snow and vegetation slowly disappears, the damn rabbits will munch whatever they can get. What they munched was, to my dismay, my blueberry bushes.
I was thisclose to pulling the two bushes, thinking that they were gone, gone, gone…I even perused other blueberry bushes at gardening centers and plant sales. A little part of me needed to wait just a little bit longer to see what would happen. And I am SO happy that I did. They are “pruned” to the bone, no doubt, but they are definitely budding!
A present for me
So one of the risks of gathering compost for free from your city is that you don’t necessarily know what has been put in the pile, how long the constituents have been breaking down, and whether seeds and rhizomes have been broken down enough so as not to weed your garden. I didn’t realize until this weekend that this risk can also be a benefit. I had been keeping my free Saint Paul compost covered with a plastic sheet so it wouldn’t be washed away with the rain, and when I uncovered it this weekend, I found surprise peonies extending up to greet me!
I must admit, and remind you, that I am a newcomer when it comes to gardening, and had no idea whether these upcoming plants were a friend or foe, so I removed them with the rhizomes (they were in the planned location for my newly acquired colonnade apple tree) and set them aside to research them later. My mom came over the next morning for Mother’s Day and, as mothers tend to do, taught me something. I’ve since replanted them and am hoping that I didn’t kill them. I would love too see what it looks (and smells) like! Thanks, mommy!