Twilight Spring Willow

Yesterday friends and I drove into the gorge and kayaked to an Island on the Coumbia River to harvest willows to make baskets with. What has anyone else been harvesting during this twilight into spring?

the nettles here in the NW are fucking prime (for eating). They are about 1 foot tall already and potent as a mother fucker, so watch out when harvesting!

aye, the nettles are amazing - filled with rage and venom.
chickweed & dandelion greens as well.

Whoa you guys are lucky to have greens already. Still snowy here in PA. Boiled some sap into sugar today though, delish. But drinking it cold and straight out of the tree is almost better. I also dug up a big wild carrot to munch on in the front of the house on the south side where the snow has melted. Saw my first earthworm of the year there too.

i’ve been getting a lot of sage together for tinctures and cooking. sour dock had been good, but don’t eat too much! desert lavender too. i think the wild onions should be coming soon and the snow is rapidly melting off the la sals.

i’d love to learn how to weave baskets. how bout a page in the field guide???

Spring is coming on so strong here in the Northeast. Last week well below freezing, 2 feet of snow on the ground. This week all of the sudden its 60 degrees and sunny. The snow will be gone in a few days. Today was the first robin. Leafhoppers everywhere. The animals are out and about. Raccoons in the yard. More roadkill. People animals out too in shorts and tank tops, on the streets, test driving the old RV and hauling god knows what kind of power tools out of the garage and making a racket.

Dandelion heads look ready to fritter or wine.

Mmm. I just made paleo dandelion fritters:

1 cup Masa Harina
1 cup water
3 eggs
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (add at your descretion)
1/2 tsp stevia (add at your descretion)

50 or so Dandelion Heads, dipped in batter and fried in a cast iron pan with organic olive oil. Holy shit these things taste god-worthy.

uuhhh… don’t eat too many… uhhhh. buuhhhh oooh…

my yard is teeming with dandelions, chickweed, dead nettles (a mint relative, not a nettle relative), and bull thistle rosettes.

visited some friends this weekend and saw some fat nettles–about 8 inches, not quite as big as scout’s mofos, violets unfurling, yarrow sending out its millions of leaves, red? clover, spearmint at about an inch tall, and sorrel. discovered that mint and sorrel make a nice combo in your mouth.

i got some nettle seeds from the same friends and picked up some other herb seeds at the store. i’m going to try to introduce some goodies into my yard. i have a lot of wet spots, so i think the nettles and mints will do really well. i’ll probably have to use raised beds for the others.

also noticed dogwoods and redbuds are flowering now. i haven’t eaten redbud flowers in a long time. and dogwoods make a good toothbrush (anytime of year–it’s just easier to find them now).

Thanks for the recipe scout…

I made a coaster out of willow and most of the time I’ve been grazing as I go on the many new growths of minor’s lettuce, Siberian miner lettuce, cleavers, sheep-sorrel (not in large amounts though because of the oxalic acid it produces), wild strawberry leaves, red and white clover leaves, dandelion heads and leaves, various flower peddles, many new leaflets and buds. I harvested several mullein stalks from a slope off the side of a road to be made into a pipe and handdrill set. I was amazed to find out that the inner pithy wood of mullein stalks can easily be carved out with my thumbnail and fingernails, but my fingers and nails can only dig so far, so I finished carving the rest of the way through the stalk by using a slender and strong stick of douglas fir.

Those of you who have harvested willow for baskets, any tricks and tips? Do you dry it and resoak it or use it green? Do you split it or use it whole? Did you use instructions for basket making or just wing it?

Willem and I have left our green willow sit in the garage for a while, not intentionally drying it, but out of lazyness. We’ll definately soak them before we try to make them into baskets now.

Other than that… wing it.

from what i’ve read (and not gotten around to trying yet) you want to dry it first and then soak it before working with it. drying lets it shrink down to its dehydrated state–so that when you’ve made your basket, you won’t have problems with shrinkage causing things to fall apart. and the soaking makes it limber enough to work with (but doesn’t swell it up to full size which would cause the aforementioned falling apart, i guess?)

as for splitting vs whole. i think that if you’re working with small enough pieces, you don’t need to split. otherwise, it would be a matter of taste and effect.

but i’m like urban scout and willem and have just had a bunch of bundles sitting around since last summer waiting for me to get off my ass and get around to them.