Wine out of dandelions? You bet! Making homemade dandelion wine is a longstanding family tradition. We don't make it every year, but I do like to keep a few bottles on hand for company. You can use the dandelions from your yard, provided they are free of pesticides, herbicides and other things you don't want to eat. The taste of this dandelion wine is rich, golden and warming – more like a good brandy than a wine. I've had friends who don't normally like wine comment that they do enjoy this “spring tonic”. [Read more…]
When we had a banner elderberry harvest, my friend, Tami, and I experimented with a variety of elderberry recipes, including two different types of elderberry jelly. One recipe is low sugar elderberry jelly made with Pomona's Pectin, and the other is a traditional elderberry jelly made with Sure-Jell pectin. [Read more…]
Welcome to the Weekly Weeder series, where we help you identify wild plants and how to use them. Today's featured plant is Butter and eggs, Linaria vulgaris.
Butter and eggs is also know as yellow toadflax, wild snapdragon, flaxweed, bread and butter, false flax, brideweed, bridewort, Jacob's-ladder, rabbit flower, imprudent lawyer, pennywort and a host of other names.
The name “snapdragon” originates from the “popping” or “snapping” sound that is made when you squeeze the flower. According to Wildflowers of Wisconsin, the other common name, toadflax, is based on how the flower opens wide like a frog or toad's mouth when squeezed. (I wonder if the name “imprudent lawyer” is linked to that wide open mouth, too?)
A European import, it has now naturalized over most of North America, including inside my greenhouse. Though less commonly used than many other herbs, it does have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. [Read more…]
Today's featured Weekly Weeder plant is common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia.
Common ragweed is also known as ragweed, hayfever weed, bitterweed, bloodweed, crownweed, mayweed and bane of allergy sufferers everywhere. Some other common ragweed species include bur ragweed, giant ragweed and western ragweed. Western ragweed is a perennial.
The seeds of this amazing plant can lie dormant in the soil for 40 years, waiting to be unearthed to spread truckloads of tiny pollen grains EVERYWHERE. Plus – bonus – changing weather patterns have extended the ragweed season through much of the United States. (BTW, just for the record, the climate has been changing as long as the planet's been around. The weather has raised and toppled empires – but that's another post.)
Today's featured weed is Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus Carota
Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) is a biennial and is also known as Wild Carrot, Bird's Nest Weed, Bee's Nest, Devils Plague, garden carrot, Bird's Nest Root, Lace Flower, Rantipole, Herbe a dinde and Yarkuki. In some states it is designated as a noxious weed. Known as 野胡萝卜 in china.
The World Carrot Museum states that the name “‘Herbe a dinde' derives from its use as a feed for young turkeys – dinde.” (Personally, I'd never heard of that name before. Maybe it's a UK thing?) The Woodrow Wilson Foundation Leadership Programs for Teachers cites the origin of the name as follows: “Queen Anne’s Lace is said to have been named after Queen Anne of England, an expert lace maker. When she pricked her finger with a needle, a single drop of blood fell into the lace, thus the dark purple floret in the center of the flower.”