It's April. If you haven't thought about the organization and planning of your garden, it's time! If you have and spring is beginning to brighten your door, and better yet, your environment; you may want to take some daily walks and find out what's beginning to pop it's head up through the soil to bask in the sun. Not only is it good therapy for our winter weary bones that will bring a smile to our face and a spring to our step; there are wild plants to be discovered. These wild things, not only have minds of their own when it comes to where they will grow, but they have medicinal grace for you. The trick is to find out where they are growing so that when you need them, they won't be lost to you amongst the other growing things that might hide them.
Let me give you an example. Coltsfoot is one of the first flowers to come up in our northeastern climate even before dandelions. They are often mistaken for dandelions but they grow in gravelly places, along roadsides with no initial leaf growth, only a segmented stalk and a yellow flower similar to a dandelion but half it's size. A harbinger of spring, they let you know where to look for their very distinct leaves a month or two later when you are looking for them to make tea or tincture, as that is the part of the plant you need. Their low growing habit makes them obscure unless you remember where to look.
When you go back later you can look under spruce and roadside growth to find the unique shape of the coltsfoot leaves growing en mass underneath. These are what you will pick to make your medicinals good for colds and congestion and one of the ingredients for a good cough syrup.
Probably the most common spring plant is the dandelion. As often as people treat their lawns so that this "weed" doesn't grow, both the toxicity of the chemicals to our health as well as the loss of an extremely good and easy to pick medicinal is lost. A cleansing herb for liver and kidneys, the small early leaves can be sauteed with butter, ghee or coconut oil or even a few onions. The new small leaves can be eaten raw in salads. Root and leaf can be dried and used in liver tea formulas. If you don't treat your lawn, you will have an abundance of early bitter greens for your salads. But it doesn't stop there. You will also notice other lawn edibles such as violas, also called "Johnny Jump Ups". Their leaves and flowers are edibles and great to add nutrients as well as color to your spring salads. A little green called sorel, that looks like a shamrock, has a slight sour taste to add to salads.
Spring foraging can always be fun if you have a patch of wild onions (or ramps) on your property. They appear shortly after the snow melts and leaves can be used in salads or pesto as well as the underground bulb. Be sure to bring a sturdy digger as these guys are tenacious to pull up.
In a forested area are yellow trout lilies with spiked, mottled leaves. These too make a nice spring green and good for the kidneys. White flowers with pink striping show off the spring beauties this time of year. Very striking against the leafless trees of spring.
And if you like the slight taste of sorel in your salads, a cultivated form called French Sorel will adapt very well in perennial beds or vegetable gardens and will raise their heads year after year in the early spring.
There are others, but learn the ones that grow near you so that you can get to them for your dinner or step out onto your lawn to pick fresh greens for salad. It will be an adventure in learning.