Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's a bright sunny morning here on Bowen Island. Still cold, but there is not a cloud in the sky.

Last evening we went harvesting nettles for an iron packed nettle lasagna. We picked probably a pound of netle tips which reduced to about 8 cups. This was layered into a casserole dish with lasagna noodles, onions and cheese for a traditional spring treat.

There is a a great nettle patch at Cape Roger Curtis, surely one of the gems of local food on the island. To pick nettle tips, just break off or cut the top of the plant below the third bract. Anything lower than this is woody and tough. Use gloves of course, and when you get home, chop it finely and steam it up. You can freeze what you don't use right away. The steaming will reduce the greens and takes the sting away as well. You'll notice a wild, almost nutty smell as the nettles are cooking too.

I am so looking forward to the wild foods harvest this year. I was out in the berry patches yesterday, looking over the Oregn grapes and the huckleberry stands I usually pick from. There are a lot of flowers and the huckleberries have already gone to fruit. As I was inspecting one bush an immature fruit came off in my hand. It was little more than a flower at this point, but loath to waste it I popped it in my mouth and got a huge surprise. The fruit tasted like honeysuckle nectar. here is a small quantity of syrup in thes fruits, which gives one an extremely sweet little drop. Surprising, given how tangy the red huckleberries are.

Salmon berry plants are look healthy with lots of flowers as well. In another six weeks or so, they will be ready for the harvest, and my prize winning salmon berry jam will be cooking up.

As for our garden, our builder has abandoned the work of constructing a gate, which has been a huge pain in the ass, as we have been all ready to plant seeds. I rigged up a temporary solution on Sunday and will finally get the salad green in and some peas and things as well. I'd finish the gate myself, but the location requires some tricky concrete work. If anyone knows of someone who would be willing to come help out with that, I'd appreciate it.

I added some fish fertilizer to the top soil to see if I could boost it any, and I'm off to see about seaweed, as we have some great low tides right now and yesterday's northwesterlies should have brought some sea vegetables to the west side of the island . This summer will definitely be an experiment with the garden, to see what grows and what doesn't and see what we need to do with the soil. But it's exciting to be on the path of local, homegrown and Bowen harvested food.