I am very excited about spring and all the possibilities. We have seeds planted in the greenhouse and we installed bees onto their hives earlier this week. We have mushrooms fruiting and have inoculated an area under the elder bush with more. This was a very good year for syrup, the maples were very generous this year, yielding 375 gallons of sap. Alot is happening, it is difficult to know where to start.
So, I thought I would start with the picture above of my favorite spot to harvest watercress. Last week an apprentice and I ventured to the springs and harvested watercress. I made a salad that contained this as well as spinach from a local greenhouse, along with chickweed and lambsquarters. What a salad it was.. I could feel my cells jump with glee. Eating fresh young greens alerts my body that yes indeed spring is here! The wild greens offer this experience in a magnified way! I so look forward to the coming of violets, wild leeks, nettle and all the other spring plants that grace the landscape and my plate.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is an amazing plant. Greening in ice cold water, when there is still snow on the ground is a feet that many green plants do not attempt and so it is worth paying respect to this green ally. Watercress is considered a semi-aquatic plant and is a perennial, native to Europe and naturalized in the United States. Watercress is a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Members of this plant family, including watercress have a very predictable flower pattern. The flowers have four sepals and four petals arranged in a cross like pattern. The stems are hollow, allowing the plant to float and the leaves are pinnate (having multidivided features).
Eating watercress is a nutritional paradise. The plant contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamin C as well as vitamin A precursers. Watercress is a digestive aid, an expectorant and appears to have cancer fighting properties. It contains iodine, and thus is supportive of the thyroid.
When harvesting watercress it is wise to have bare feet or wear waterproof shoes, as you will inevitably get your feet wet. That said, watercress is a damp herb and so in some traditions it is used to treat dry, irritating coughs.
Below is a recipe for a watercress salmon spread that is delightful and deeply nourishing. Enjoy!
Happy Spring, Linda
Begin by poaching (cooking technique) or baking the salmon.
Salmon 16 ounces (of course you can use any fish that you have available for this recipe)
8 ounces of Thick Yogurt (homemade is ideal) or cream cheese (homemade is ideal)
chopped fresh watercress (as much as you would like to taste)
1 tsp. lemon juice
powdered kelp or salt to taste
Mix together, place in a bowl or jar and garnish with fresh watercress-flowering if possible.
Linda Conroy is a bioregional, wise woman herbalist, educator,wildcrafter, permaculturist and an advocate for women's health.
She is the proprietress of Moonwise Herbs and the founder of Wild Eats: a movement to encourage people and communities to incorporate whole and wild food into their daily lives. She is passionate about women's health and has been working with women for over 20 years in a wide variety of settings.
Linda is a student of nonviolent communication and she has a masters degree in Social Work as well as Law and Social Policy. Linda has been offering hands on herbal programs and food education classes for well over a decade.
She has completed two herbal apprenticeship programs, one of which was with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center and she has a certificate in Permaculture Design.
Linda is a curious woman whose primary teachers are the plants; they never cease to instill a sense of awe and amazement.
Her poetic friend Julene Tripp Weaver, eloquently describes Linda when she writes, "She listens to the bees, takes tips from the moon, and follows her heart."
Listen to a thirty minute interview with mentor Linda Conroy
Study with Linda Conroy from Home
The goal of the course is to have participants become familiar with herbal medicine, to become comfortable incorporating herbs into daily life and to gain hands on experience making simple remedies at home.