Sunday, December 07, 2008

Edible "Weeds" and Things We Try to Grow

Occasionally one of the kids will bring something in that they found outside and we'll look it up.

Today it was cattail. Clark wanted to know if something he found was part of a cattail. We're still not sure about it, but we looked up cattail and found it is very edible and very nutritious. But the best time to harvest different parts is in the spring. So IF we remember we'll have to try some.

We'd also learned that mesquite pods can be ground into a flour. The kids tasted some and said it's sweet. They called it mesquite candy. They don't get to eat much candy so their idea of sweet may not be the same as someone else's. I haven't tasted it yet. They collected some for me to grind and use as flour, but I didn't get to it before the bugs did. Maybe next year. It seems like I'm always saying "maybe next year if we don't have another baby" and that day never comes. But we now have some children who are old enough to take on these projects if they desire.

We tried making some juice from prickly pear fruit. We didn't like it. I think we might if we added sugar, but I thought that would ruin any benefit to it. But again, maybe it was an excuse because I had a teething baby who doesn't sleep and I just didn't want that big job. It is supposed to make a good jelly and would probably be better for us than all the cheap grape jelly we buy.

Then the prickly pear cactus leaves are also good for you. Some of the kids tried it and liked it. Aren't you supposed to cook it though? They just ate it outside where they found it. I think they wore gloves and skinned it first. They love their pocket knives.

These are all things we have discovered in plenty on our property. They are all nutritious. We just haven't yet tasted any of them. I'm thinking maybe this next school year I'll make it part of our studies and we can see what God has provided for us right here on our own property. Things that are plentiful and considered in the way, i.e. weeds. I wish I had someone to teach me about all these things.

We have finally gotten around to planting some lettuce and garlic chive seeds in a couple of pots in the house. We haven't had any house plants for a long time. If we're going to start now, they ought to at least be useful. We also have 3 old buckets in south windows now with clippings from a friend's tomato plants (thanks Tracy!) that were rooted in water. We'll see if these do any good. Wouldn't it be great if we can get a salad from our houseplants? We do need to find a way to decorate the buckets. They're pretty ugly right now. I'll probably give that project to the kids.

And the chickens are still working on tilling a garden for us for the spring. They're doing a good job tearing up the plants and maybe the top inch of soil, but I think I may need to buy a tiller or something. I'm not sure what I need, but the ground is pretty hard out here. I know I have a LOT to learn still.

My dream is once we get the porch on the house I want to grow herbs all around the house instead of a useless flower garden. There are plenty of flowers on plants I would use. Herbs I buy and would love to grow myself if I can include peppermint, spearmint, stevia, red clover, hawthorne, lavender, mullein, lemon balm, echinacea, nettle, horsetail, licorice, thyme, and I think there are more, but Claire and I can't think of them right now. So I need to look these all up and see what I can grow and harvest and use without paying someone else to do it for me. Again, so much to learn, but I think it will be fun. I just have to be sure at least one kid is interested in each project so they can help me keep it going IF God decides to bless us with another baby and I need time off from projects.

Just thinking out loud here.


Heidi said...

I've read that pigs are great at tilling soil, since they have a natural rooting instinct. They'll certainly dig deeper than the chickens, and I figure that the combination of the two animals would get pretty much all the roots and seeds out.

At least, that's what goes on in my little dream world of "If I moved to the country..."

Christina said...

if God decides to bless us with another baby...hmmm..twice in one post....hmm...are you trying to not tell us something?

Melissa Nelson said...

No, Christina, I have no news at all. I guess Ezra is just getting big and it has me thinking. Plus, I've just about lost all my baby weight. I'm getting back in my old clothes. I'm starting to feel like a real person again. That doesn't usually last long for me. Our kids have all been born in even numbered years, but they've been getting closer spaced. I'm guessing I'll have an announcement in the next 3 months or so, but if God wants to give me a break, that would be really cool. I think it would be great to wait until 2010 and keep our even years pattern.