Just beyond the threshold of the summer solstice, the Appalachian Mountains burst forth with life, with abundant wild foods, sweet berries and meadow medicinals. The seedlings we planted in the spring are now giants in their garden beds, offering their fruits beneath broad and fanning leaves. This is truly the season of abundance and a potent time for wild-food foraging and food preservation. As we stand in the season of sun, however, we must also prepare ourselves for the seasons of cold to come.
Below is a guide and "to-do" list to help you make the most of this robust season. This field and homestead guide comes from the life experiences of Natalie Bogwalker, founder of Wild Abundance and the Firefly Gathering, with contributions by Chloe Lieberman and Zev Friedman.
• Harvest milkweed blossoms. These broccoli-like flowers can be sautéed, steamed, boiled or stirred into casseroles for a magnificent and nutritious meal. Make sure to inhale their intoxicating aroma before harvesting. Make sure to correctly identify edible varieties (there are poisonous look alikes, like dogbane), and cook them before eating, as milkweed is toxic unless fully cooked.
• Harvest Elderberry flowers and berries. Elderberry's lace-like fairy-kissed white flowers can be harvested and dried for tea (and used as a powerful remedy to reduce fevers). The fruit of the elderberry can be harvested when ripe (look for plump purple berries), and is a potent immune-boosting anti-viral fruit that is delicious in pies, jams, meads and medicinal syrups.
• Harvest Wineberries! These non-native and non-invasive berries are some of our favorites, and miraculously produce a healthy harvest even in the shade of the forest.
• Harvest black-cap raspberries.
• Eat of the bounty! Enjoy fresh tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, green beans, chard, kale!
• Choose a few healthy summer squash plants that make particularly tasty squashes, and allow a few fruits to mature to produce seeds. These seeds will be saved for next year's garden, and for generations to come.
• Harvest and cure onions.
• Harvest garlic! (If you haven’t already.)
• Start seeds for fall crops, like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and winter spinach.
• Cultivate and weed, weed, weed!
• Harvest saucing apples.
• Harvest more wineberries, raspberries, blueberries, and ever-bearing strawberries.
• Two words: Pickle and Ferment! Green beans, carrots, beets, zucchinis, cucumbers, milkweed buds!! Make sauce with yellow mealy apples (aka, “sauce apples”) that start ripening at the end of month.
• Make jam, dry herbs and flowers for tea (mint, red clover, yarrow blossoms, elder blossoms and lavender).
Don't forget to swim, to nap in the shade of a oak tree, and eat fresh berries by the fistful!
Photography provided by Wild Abundance
For more information about Wild Abundance, or to check out upcoming weekend workshops including a Tiny House and Natural Building Intensive, Permaculture Design Certification, or Hide Tanning, go to wildabundance.net.
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