Summer solstice has always been one of my favorite times of the year. For one, it comes just before my birthday, so it is indeed a great reason to celebrate. But now, more importantly, it is the time of year when the garden and the forest really start producing a lot of edibles. For the past few weeks, we have been enjoying an array of lettuces, greens, and herbs in our salads and vegetable dishes. Although a few plants suffered in the late spring due to squash and flea beetles, they now seem to be growing steadily and happy in the soil. Big red radishes are popping out of the soil and have been a delicious addition to our lunch salad meals. Until we can harvest our own garlic in a month or so, we've been using the scapes daily.
Pictured below is Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), a meaty textured edible mushroom that I found while walking with Wilder thru the woods out back. After the brightly colored flesh caught the corner of my eye, I immediately noticed that I was about 2 weeks too late for an epic harvest. Although I did harvest a meals worth, I could have scored at least 10 pounds, enough to dry and utilize over the next few months.
Milk weed, another wild food favorite here, is growing abundantly throughout the land. For the next month, these flowers will be consumed atleast once during the day. Excess will be canned and pickled for winter consumption.
Below, is possibly the most delicious meal I crafted so far this year! Inside the grape leaves is a mixture of beef w/ lots of spices that I ground in the mortar in pestle. The tightly rolled "dolmas" sit on top of a puree of nettle, garlic scapes, and almonds, w/ a touch of lemon. To the left, creamy milk weed and chicken of the woods. The plate is garnished with puslane, pea flowers, and nasturtium. I am so blessed to have meals like this, ones that can be harvested off the land and cooked just a short while after being harvested.
Strawberry season has also arrived, which is super exciting because they are one of Wilder's favorite fruits. Since our strawberry patch is rather small, we plan to head over to the local pick-your-own farm so that we can store several pounds in the freezer. Click on the strawberry photo below to see Wilder guzzling a handful our of Cami's hands.
I've been putting a lot of work on the garden beds, which has not been such an easy task. Since most of the garden space has not been used in years, I have been collecting lots of wood chips and placing them in the rows over cardboard to keep the weeds at bay. In the center of the garden, pictured below, I have cut back the grass and will be adding raised beds and a spiral garden. There is certainly a lot of work ahead of me, but I have made a lot of progress in the year we have been here.
Our pond has proven to be the most loved "structure" on the land. On warm, sunny days, nothing is as refreshing as a dip into the cool, but manageable water. A few times a day, the family will break for a dunk, which seems to invigorate us enough to carry on in the hot sun. Wilder has been great about staying at the edge and we can allow him to explore without having to be right by his side. In the future, I hope to build a trench of sorts and allow the overflowing pond water to assist in irrigating the gardens.
We are just 3 weeks away from my workshop Back to the Land. I am excited to share that all the spaces are filled and I am so looking forward to sharing my skills and space with 16 folks from around the globe!