Saturday, August 22, 2015

Botany, Parilla and Poke Weed

We have started learning about Botany here on the HoW. Planting seeds, harvesting the food that is coming from the garden and trying to id the medicinal herbs (aka weeds) that are all over the property. It has been a lot of fun and we are enjoying the hunt for useful herbs!

This week, my sweet friend Cyndi from Lazy B farm in Georgia came by to pick me up. We had made plans to drive up to Lexington to visit another friend, Becky from Owl Moon Farm. I am on the National Board of Ladies Homestead Gathering with these two amazing gals and we had great plans to get together with the local board for Rockbridge LHG and also to attend their monthly Gathering.

My National Board peeps: Dee, Jo, Becky, Cyndi and Me!

I have a history with Cyndi. The first time she came to my farm in Georgia, I was nervous as could be. She is the founder of LHG and I was quite intimidated by her knowledge and what she had done in founding the group, Little did I know that she is salt of the earth. Truly.

Cyndi and two other board members were coming for dinner and to attend an Interest Meeting for a new chapter of LHG that we were hoping to start in my neck of the woods. So I decided to do what any self respecting nutty hostess would do. I tried a new recipe. Oh, yes I did. And if you know me at all, you know I am not a neat cook (my mother often wonders if I was switched at birth with the neat and tidy child she was supposed to take home)....Anyway, I digress.

The Ladies who attended what would become LHG Dawson/Forsyth!
I had already planned on doing a taco bar for dinner. Nice and easy and people can put what they want on their taco salad. For some unknown reason, I decided to make homemade corn tortillas at the last minute. Yes. From scratch.. Oi.

By the time Cyndi, Dee and Kelly arrived, half of my kitchen was covered in flour and there were tons of misshapen tortillas all over the counter. It was a mess! Thankfully, they were very gracious and overlooked the mess. We enjoyed a yummy dinner followed by a quick tour of my farm.

We had recently moved to the farm and I was super proud of my tiny garden behind the sunroom. I had planted a rosemary bush, and some plantain that I had gotten at an LHG swap, and I also had some gorgeous purple basil that a friend had given to me. I proudly showed off my garden to Cyndi. Her first words were "Hey, that's parilla growing there!" Me: "What, that? That's purple basil!" Cyndi..."No, that's parilla! Better watch out because if it goes to seed, it will be everywhere!"

I was so embarrassed. Here I was so sure I was growing an herb to make spaghetti sauce with, and instead I was growing a pernicious weed! It actually does have some good uses, so it's not all bad. But Cyndi was right! When I repotted my rosemary to move it to VA, I discovered tiny parilla plants in the pot!

Parilla that I dried and put away for "just in case"

Fast forward to this week, and Cyndi is at my new place. We took an herb walk and I showed her our garden and we toured the edges of the yard, looking for useful weeds. Cyndi pointed to a plant with large, oval leaves and said, "That's poke weed." Me; "What?!  Oh, no! My chickens LOVE that and I have been pulling it and feeding it to them!" Once again, I have misidentified a plant and could have done in my whole flock! Poke weed leaves are eaten in the spring, when they are young, but only after being cooked in three successive batches of fresh water. Oh. My. Goodness. On days like this, I am thankful that God hands out so much mercy to me!

Yes, I can id THIS as poke weed...but did not know what they immature plants look like. Now I know!

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