Monday, May 27, 2013

Red Clover

Almost every spring portions of our front yard are covered with red clover.  The clover blooms about the same time as the milkweed plants start growing, and until recent years large numbers of monarch butterflies on one of their migration routes up from Mexico, would descend on the yard to feast on the clover nectar and lay eggs on the milkweed.

This year, the red clover bloomed, the milkweed grew -- but I haven't seen a single monarch.  Every year over the past ten or so years they have been fewer and fewer.  The honey bees are fewer and fewer also.  Last year I had to hand pollinate most of my vegetable garden plants to get a fruit set.  When I see the lawn spray trucks all over the neighborhood I just want to scream!

Now the clover has all set seed, and I'm harvesting the seed for next year.

I cut whole seed heads and plunk them in a paper sack, that I will fold over and staple and label.  Some time between November and February, on a nice day where rain is expected later that day or the next, I strew them out all over the yard, walking over where they fall so they make some contact with the soil. And maybe next spring there will be monarchs.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Making Violet Syrup - Part 3 of Eat Your Weeds

I can't believe I've left so many weeks slip by without blogging.  In my defense, we have had many days of heavy rains and a record late freeze that have left my garden bedraggled and gasping and not very photogenic.  And on the days when the weather has been good and the garden inviting -- well, I've been working hard playing catch up on all the garden jobs, trying to get the creeping charlie under control (grr), and getting the vegetable garden in, while trying to control my Annual Spring Horrid Rash that I get every year (chickweed poultices and washes with chamomile tea seem to work about as well as anything the doctor has ever prescribed -- I don't know if any treatments actually ever work, or if the Horrid Rash simply runs its course each time and eventually recedes).

With our crazy spring weather and the total lack of a spring garden, I have been relying on the "weeds" in our yard (along with the remnants of my very successful winter garden -- swiss chard is still going strong, although the kale and collards all bolted and played out, as did the winter lettuce).   One weed I like to use a lot in salads is violet -- which grows profusely in the shady areas of our yard.  Both the leaves and flowers are a great addition to salads.

Here are some snips from around my yard that I add to salads:  red veined sorrel (a perennial), chives, chive blossoms, pansies, lemon balm, red and pink clover, and some violets are in there, too.

A few weeks ago I made violet syrup with the violets in the first picture.

Fill a mason jar about half way with violets, then fill the jar half way with warm water and let steep over night in the fridge, to make a violet "tea" or infusion.

Strain out the violet blossoms.  You can see below that the "tea" has a little bit of color to it.

Boil the violet water (this was about 1 cup) with one cup of sugar to make a syrup.

For dinner I made oat and apple pancakes, garnished with flowers, and served with dried tomato chicken sausages.   The syrup was wonderful with it.

Violets are a good source of vitamin C, and pure violet syrup makes a healthy (as in healthier than artificial pancake syrup) and economical alternative to pure maple syrup.

linked to various blog hops, including Sunny Simple Monday