Spring is a special time. The earth is waking up from a winter’s nap and most of us are antsy to get outside into the fresh green, outdoors. Be sure to take the harvest basket on those outdoor walks and do some early spring foraging. These plants tend to be among the first to pop up after the snow melts and they are powerhouses of nutrition and medicine. Gather lots, eat them fresh, preserve them for later, and make medicines and body products to serve your home well into the winter season.
The dandelion is the bane of the perfect lawn seeker but is a boon to foragers, herbalists, and pollinators. Save the root gathering for the fall season, but do gather the tender green leaves and golden blossoms in the early spring. Dandelion is edible and medicinal, it’s also very hard to over harvest but do intentionally leave some behind for the bees.
Use the young leaves as you would any leafy green. Eat it raw in salads, toss some into your smoothies, even use them for pesto making. They’re delicious on pizza and cooked into soups, even pureed and added to egg noodles.
The flowers have a faint honey-like flavor that makes them an ideal addition to desserts, like cookies and cakes. They also make delicious fritters. Heck, you can even make jelly from those golden petals.
Using Dandelions for Medicine
A dandelion blossom infused oil is our favorite remedy for relief from arthritic joints. That same infused oil can be used to soothe chapped and raw skin.
Using Dandelions for Body Products
Because dandelion petals tend to be soothing to our bodies, they make great additions to lip balms, bath bombs, and more. Harvest and dry lots, you won’t regret having a jar full of dried dandelion petals in the herbal cabinet.
These beautiful flowers tend to be the first bits of color to our landscapes. These gorgeous blooms tend to be found mostly in violet but can also be found in white. Johnny-Jump-Ups in their variety of colors are also violets can be used in the same ways.
Candy those flowers for a lovely edible decoration for cookies and cakes. Eat the flowers in a salad. Make gelatin and jelly from a tea from the petals. Use them in a vibrantly colored cocktail for spring parties. Infuse them in honey and whip into butter for a delicious and beautiful spread.
Using Violets for Medicine
Tincture the flowers and use it to help reduce the swelling of glands. Make a cough syrup from the leaves and honey to soothe dry coughs. Violet infused honey can soothe upset stomachs. A tea of the petals can help soothe frazzled nerves.
Using Violets for Body Products
These green leaves spring up in most unsprayed lawns all spring and summer. Plantain is so often overlooked but it is a medicinal powerhouse that should be gathered and dried to have on hand all year long.
While safely edible plantain is a bit bland. Choose to eat the young tender leaves as the older leaves tend to get extremely bitter. Use like spinach or dandelion leaves.
Using Plantain as Medicine
Plantain is well known for its ability to soothe itches and bug bites. Use it fresh by bruising it and applying to the skin as a poultice to soothe bug bites and bee stings. Make a salve from it to treat burns, rashes, bites, and more. Freeze the leaves in aloe for cooling relief from sunburn.
This flourishing green plant with the tiny white flowers tends to be one of the first greens to pop up each spring. It is also loved by chickens so don’t be afraid to share some with your flock.
Chickweed makes an incredible pesto but is a bit bland on its own – add it to a mixed green salad or smoothie for a nutritious hit but use herbs to brighten the flavor.
Using Chickweed as Medicine
As the weather changes and the earth bursts with new life be sure to get out there and do some early spring foraging with these easy to identify and plentiful wild plants.
Do you have a favorite plant to forage in the early spring?
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