Savoring the Seasons: Nettles ... not so prickly
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
My, oh my! What a difference a few weeks make in the green world! The big oak, maple and beech trees next to my house have gone from mostly bare branches to fully leafed out in a very short time. After enjoying seeing the bloodroot, trillium, trout lily and other “spring ephemeral” wildflowers in my neighborhood, now I’m concerned to see the white flowers of garlic mustard. Garlic mustard does indeed taste like garlic, but it is a bully in the plant world, crowding out other plants.
I’ve been pulling up garlic mustard I find near my house, putting it in trash bags and taking it to the transfer station (rather than composting so the seeds don’t spread). Learn more at: www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/garlicmustard.shtml.
Nettles, another tasty wild plant I’m noticing, is NOT a bully to other plants, although it is prickly for humans who run into it by accident. When I visited Wilder Hill Gardens recently, Lilian Jackman told me her favorite way to cook nettles and reminded me it’s a great source of calcium and iron. See her recipe, below.
Want to learn about wild edibles? Head over to the World Eye Bookshop on Main Street in Greenfield to get “Eat Your Weeds” by Trudy Crites (of Brattleboro) and “Northeast Foraging” by Leda Meredith.
Shelburne Falls Farmers Market Opening Day, Friday, May 23, 2 to 6:30 p.m., Baptist Corner Lot, corner of Main and Water streets, Shelburne Falls. Market continues Friday afternoons until Oct. 24. Featuring fresh produce, local meat, maple syrup, pickles, jams, jellies, marmalades, jewelry, wood crafts, herbal products, mushrooms, fresh baked goods, wool, wool products, hand-woven items, strawberries, fresh eggs, plant starts, flowers, soap, children’s activities and more. New this year: “3rd Friday Picnics” during market hours. Bring a picnic dish to share and a chair. Vendors will have fresh salad fixings for sale with free salad dressings offered by the market. The market is looking for a new market manager, musicians and vendors selling cheese, ready-to-eat foods or drinks and honey. Contact Chris Dwight, market manager at 413-773-5666.
Solidarity Saturday Tour and Market, Saturday, May 24, 10 a.m. tour, Seeds of Solidarity Farm and Education Center, 165 Chestnut Hill Road, Orange. Experience the Seeds of Solidarity farm, home and education center that integrate solar greenhouses, energy-efficient buildings, abundant market gardens, solar electric and hot water systems. Free tour, no registration. Donations to support youth and community programs appreciated. Optional: bring a potluck dish to share and enjoy the abundance of the solar-powered farm stand and continued conversation. Additional Solidarity Saturday dates: Aug. 9 and Oct. 18. For information, visit www.seedsofsolidarity.org or call 978-544-9023.
Fruit Growing for the Home Gardener, Saturday, May 31, 10 to 11 a.m., Wilder Hill Gardens, Conway. Free workshop on growing fruit, including blueberries, currants, gooseberries and Asian pears. Preregistration suggested. For information, call Lilian Jackman at 413-625-9446 or visit wilderhillgardens.com.
This week we’re eating ...
By Lilian Jackman, Wilder Hill Gardens, Conway
Wearing gloves to avoid the sting, pick the tips and tender parts of nettles. Pick way more than you can imagine using! Wash the nettles. Boil a pot of water, then throw in the washed nettles. Dunk them down to blanch them, and when it comes back to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. They should remain bright green. Drain, leaving a little water. Remove the nettles and toss with olive or sesame oil, salt and a little vinegar. You can use them anyway you use other greens. I chop the cooked nettles, and put them in omelets, tacos and lasagna.