Here's a sneak peak at what is ripening on the landscape. I'll write a post on each of these plants when I harvest them. I have enjoyed some Common Blackberries already, but the majority of the crop is not yet mature.
Update: Click on any photo to read a post about the ripe fruit.
Bird song is a big part of my life, and this week it's the focus of the nature quiz.
How many birds do you hear singing in this recording? Can you name any (or all) of them?
The recording was made on an early July morning near a swamp in Foxborough, MA. If you recognize any of the voices, leave a comment below. The full list of singers will be added to the Quiz Answers page next week.
When I meet someone for the first time and mention that I live in Plainville, Massachusetts, I'm often met with suspicion.
“Right, and I grew up in Smallville,” they might be thinking.
Other times, people seem to follow me but then say, “Oh, that's in western Mass, right?”
“Not exactly, maybe you're thinking of Plainfield. I live in Plainville.”
Plainville is located between Providence, RI and Boston, MA, and most certainly in the eastern part of the state. Plainville is the southwestern-most town in Norfolk County, bordering Wrentham (north), Foxborough (east), North Attleborough (south), and Cumberland, RI (west).
You may recognize Common Stitchwort (Stellaria media) by another of its names: Common Chickweed. When I was just learning about wild edibles many years ago, chickweed was a plant that everyone seemed to rave about. It took me some time to find my first patch growing wild, and have since had the pleasure of eating this plant many times.
Most of the patches of Common Stitchwort at the farm I frequent are small, but in the other places I've found it growing in terrific abundance. In the past, I've used it in place of sprouts on sandwiches, but these days I usually incorporate the plant into salads or simply snack on it plain. I gather the growing tips of this plant -- stems, leaves, flowers and all. I can't pass a patch without enjoying at least a nibble.
If you haven't met this plant while weeding a garden or helping out at a local farm, you'll want to take some time to get to know this weed. Red-rooted Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus) is a delicious member of the same plant family as White Goosefoot and the cultivated spinach.
It has red pigment on its root and often grows in large groups. It is an annual that doesn't show up in quantity until the soil warms sufficiently. I started to gather Red-rooted Amaranth in mid-June this year.
I look for fast growing plants that have yet to produce flowers. In a good row at a local organic farm, I can gather a pound of this plant in just a few minutes – enough to last me several days.
Before consuming any wild food, I take care to positively identify the species by consulting trusted wild food resources – a crucial step that should not be dismissed. While some garden weeds are edible, others are most certainly not, and even edible plants have particularities (i.e., specific parts to be collected at specific times and prepared in specific ways) that need to be learned. If independent research doesn't give you total confidence, I recommend spending time with an experienced forager. Some things are best learned in the field.