Blue Spruce—Edible Plants

Blue spruce, picea pungens, is native to the Rocky Mountains, but can be found as ornamental trees throughout the United States. The young shoots can be used to make tea high in vitamin C. This bitter, resinous drink is surprisingly refreshing, although it is not uncommon for people to add a sweetener. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Daylily—Edible Plants

Our daylilies are emerging. While the daylily (hemerocallis fulva) is known as a decorative plant, it is also edible. This time of year we eat the young shoots by stir frying them in soy sauce and serving them on tofu. We harvest the shoots when they are only a few inches long. The ones pictured here would be a little too old. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Small Cranberry

life_in_maine_small_cranberrySmall cranberry, Vaccinium oxycoccos, can be found in peat or acidic soils, which gives it its other common name, bog cranberry. This is one of the first plants to colonize burnt bogland and native Americans would burn bogs to stimulate its growth. Like the cultivated cranberry, these are tart. Naturally, this fruit is sought after by wildlife. This plant is on Little Moose Island at the tip of Schoodic peninsular in Acadia National Park. Click on the image for a larger view.

Blackberries, 2016

life_in_maine_blackberries_2016It is blackberry season again. This is our largest fruit crop of the year—we are just finishing up the blackberries we picked last year. We will spend August gathering these berries. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Blackberry in Bloom

life_in_maine_blackberry_in_bloomOur fruit plants are going through their annual flowering cycle. At the beginning of May, our wild plum was in bloom. The middle of may brought the blossoms out in our apple and peach trees. Now our blackberry canes are blossoming. These are in our field, but the blackberry under our forest canopy are also out. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Thanksgiving Dinner

life_in_maine_thanksgiving_dinnerNaomi and I don’t eat meat. For Thanksgivings we made a stuffed kabocha. Kabocha is a well known squash in Japan. You can eat the cooked flesh by itself or stuff the entire fruit. For the stuffing, we used ingredients from our garden: plantain, spiderwort, day lilies, goutweed, and bush beans. We added some vegetarian sausage, mushrooms, croutons, and cheese. (This would be good for other holidays, feasts, or an everyday meal.) Click on the image for a larger view.

Giving Thanks

We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

life_in_maine_giving_thanks_2Today is Thanksgiving in the US. Like many people, we are celebrating the holiday with a meal. We have been using foods we have harvested from our garden. Two dishes I am really looking forward to are an apple pie with cranberries and a blackberry pie. The apples are from our tree of an unknown variety. The blackberries are from our field. Click on the image for a larger view.

Blackberry Harvest 2015

edible_weeds_blackberry_harvest_2015A month ago, our blackberries were green. This week, we began our annual harvest. This usually lasts about a month depending on the size of the crop. It looks like it might be a good year. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Raspberry Leaves

edible_weeds_raspberry_leafRaspberry-leaf tea is great all year round. In summer, we mix it with mint or Japanese green tea and serve it cold. In winter, we mix it with camomile and drink it hot. Raspberry-leaf tea is claimed to have various medical benefits, particularly for women.

In July, we harvest the new shoots of our wild raspberry. We air dry the leaves on the branches indoors, and finish by placing the leaves in a dehydrator. The tea is light and sweet. Wild raspberry spreads quickly and is considered a weed, but we value it as a herb and source of soft fruit. We have several varieties. Click on the image for a larger view.

Raspberry Harvest

edible_weeds_raspberryNaomi and I were collecting raspberries this evening. We have three or four varieties on our land, perhaps more. This year has been very good. We normally get only a handful, but we have collected a couple of pints so far. Click on the image for a larger view of this jar of fruit.

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Virginia Spiderwort

edible_weeds_spiderwortVirginia Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginians, is found throughout the eastern US. The leaves, young shoots, and flowers are edible—raw or cooked. Native Americans ground the leaves into a poultice for insect bites. Our garden has this plant growing wild with blue, pink, and the rarer white blossoms.

Not all spiderworts are edible, there are about 75 species. Some are toxic for cats or dogs. Click on the image for a larger view.

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The Arrival of Spring

life_in_maine_spring_arrivesOur wild plum have just come into blossom. These flowers mark the first sign of spring. Our forest trees are just showing their new foliage and fern and other forest plants are spouting. And while the new green is wonderful, the white flowers of our plum is magical. Later in the summer, we hope to harvest some fruit from these trees. Click on the image for a larger view.


life_in_maine_sageWhile outside has been in the firm grip of winter, inside is showing signs of spring. Our sage has come into blossom. In Maine, sage is supposed to survive in the garden through winter, but we lost most of our crop during the ice storm at the end of 2013. Naomi saved one of the surviving plants in a pot. Click on the image for a larger view.

Sage has a refreshing sweet scent, which makes it a wonderful indoor plant. We used it in cooking and for tea. Among Native Americans, sage is considered sacred and one of the most important ceremonial herbs: it has power to balance the body, mind, and spirit.

Self-Heal Tea

life_in_maine_self_heal_teaPrunella vulgaris, commonly known as Self Heal or Heal All, is known in many cultures to have healing properties. The entire plant is edible and can be uses in soups, salads, and stews. Like with our Goldenrod, we make tea from the plant. Unlike the bitterness of Goldenrod, this tea has a mild flavor. Click on the image for a larger view

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Goldenrod Tea

life_in_maine_goldenrod_teaGoldenrod tea is said to have medicinal properties and to be good for colds. The tea is bitter and we usually mix it with chamomile and add a splash of honey. We simply throw goldenrod blossoms and leaves into a masion jar and pour in boiling water. We let it steep for 30 minutes to a day. If you love the bitterness of Japanese green tea, goldenrod can can be a great non-caffeine alternative. Click on the image for a larger view.

Yellow Dock—Edible Weeds

edible_weeds_curly_dockYellow Dock or Curly Dock, Rumex crispus, is a common weed. We use the ground seeds in bread. Some use the seeds as a coffee substitute, although we use dandelion roots for that. Click on image for a larger view.