Wow, the second week of September is already upon us. Surprisingly, a lot of maple and oak trees are beginning to shift from green leaves into yellows, oranges, reds, and some have even already dropped. The drought this year has the majority of trees stressed. Strategically, we heavily mulched our young fruit trees in early spring, because of that they have grown and are looking beautiful.
This time of year is great for harvesting wild plants and using them as food, medicine, or for saving a seed. We love to use our book, Peterson – A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs, it is the best selling field guide of all time. It is specifically made for central and eastern North America and has every plant’s information and photos. Today, we grabbed a box, basket, gloves, camera, guide, and a knife, and went for an afternoon walk to see what we could find.
Along the way we found many familiar herbs; sorrel, wild mustard, plantain, red clover, mullein, milk thistle, burdock, and more. We came upon a large bush and noticed it was covered with small red berries with light white polka dots on them, we looked it up and found it was serviceberry, also known as autumn olive. We harvested about 6 cups worth and had all we could eat, the autumn olive is an invasive species but produces fruit that is extremely high in vitamins and is classified as a “superfood.” With some research I have come to the conclusion that it is best to cut down every one that you will NOT be able to harvest every year, because of its rapid reproduction, but, if you plan to harvest the entire crop every year for food/medicine then it’s an amazing addition to your permaculture oasis.
Next, we were walking along side our road and some smell hit us so powerfully it stopped us mid-stride… Do you smell that? As we fumbled through some bushes and thorns we noticed a vine with large leaves that was growing rampant, it was COVERED with huge dark purple grapes! We had found the largest wild grape vine that we had ever seen! Clusters of 10-20 grapes in each hand, filling our box and basket completely full to the brim, now we have something to work with! We ventured back to the homestead and started plucking each grape off the cluster, placing them into a large bowl. We then used our juicer to separate the seeds from the liquid inside of the grape so that we could use the liquid to make grape juice and jam.