Then this Sunday was the first car boot sale of the season. I decided to have a stall selling, the idea being that I raise funds to spend in following weeks. It turned out to be a very quiet event, so I didn't do as well as I had hoped. Still I emptied a few bags of outgrown clothes from the garage and made £21. Except that I spent £2 on a new basket, £2 on a wheely trug, 50p on a bag and....50p on something else that I can't remember.
I also attended my first ever political meeting, as Amelia Womack, deputy leader for the Green Party was speaking locally. There will be a general election in May, and for the first time we will have a member of the green party standing locally. It was an opportunity to hear their policies and ask some important questions, and Amelia was a friendly and easy to follow speaker. She certainly gave me food for thought. And talking of food.......
It turns out that Couch grass roots are edible. Wish I had known that before I dumped buckets full of them.
Actually they smell quite sweet, so they should make an interesting basis for a meal. So this weeks theme became allotment weeds. Alongside the couch I collected some red dead nettles again as they were so plentiful and pretty, a few stinging nettles as they needed to be weeded anyway, and the two new flavours of chickweed and hairy bittercress. How does this look for a bagged salad?
The chickweed had very pretty, distinctive white flowers, but they had closed up completely by the time I got my camera out. The stem has a single line of hairs down it, which help with the identification. John Wright describes the flavour of chickweed in The River Cottage Handbook No.7: Hedgerow as "...mild and pleasant, not unlike lettuce but with a bit of freshly mown cricket pitch thrown in." I had collected loads, and though it had a nice texture, the cricket pitch flavour was too much for me, so I only used a small handful.
The hairy bittercress was amazing though. It smelled and tasted just like cress and was not bitter at all. I mixed it in with the chickweed and some raw red dead nettles for the salad, but unfortunately the lovely cress flavour didn't come through. Maybe I need more next time.
It would definitely work in egg sandwiches. I will be keeping all the hairy bittercress I dig up from now on, or just nibbling it raw in between digging.
I fried the chopped couch grass roots with the nettles and some of the dead nettles, but I decided to taste them before adding them to my salad. Good job too, because they were really tough, like chewing twigs! The flavour was fine - no bitterness like the dandelion roots, but they were too tough to eat. Luckily I had picked lots of dead nettles, so I chucked the first batch with the couch grass away and fried the rest on their own.
I also found some coltsfoot whilst I was walking round the local reservoir. It is supposed to be a good remedy for coughs, so I will pick a few more to dry next time, because it wil be good to have some remedies in for next winter. I have just dried a bunch of sweet violets on my windowsill too
Every time I am out, I have brought one or two plants back for identification and tasting, so I am gradually increasing my wild plant knowledge. Where I really think that it will save me money is with herbal teas that I drink regularly, and with herbal remedies. I am gradually increasing my store of little bottles with dried plants, so that I should have enough variety to make more remedies soon. I had better start adding labels too, as I will no doubt forget what each one is! Let me know if you do any foraging or make any wild remedies?