Spring Harvest 2016

Spring is now over and there were few things I was able to harvest before I left for England.

Dandelions right now are my biggest spring harvest as they grow very early and are everywhere. This past spring there were a few plants I wanted to harvest but was not able to get to all of them.

First on my list was dandelions. You can read about this year’s dandelion harvest here. I wanted to get out and do a second harvest but never got the chance to.

Second, was violets. There are many, many species of violets but the Common Blue Violet is well, the most common, so that’s what I mainly harvested.

I went out twice this spring and harvested violets. The first time I went with my friend Rachel. We found a few nice patches to harvest and spent about an hour or so in the evening picking the flowers. You can harvest the leaves as well and dry them out for tea but I didn’t do that this year.

violets

It’s amazing how much time you can spend harvesting these little flowers and seem like you haven’t made a dent in the patch. An hour of harvesting can provide you with a little under a handful of flowers.

The same day Rachel and I harvested violets we also harvested some stinging nettle. Luckily, we didn’t get “stung” as we had some gloves on. We found some patches along the river which were coated with dirt from the flood a few days before we went out. I ended up having to wash off all the dirt before I could dry them.

stinging nettle
Stinging Nettle

A few days later I went out with my friend Tory to harvest more violets. We found a nice patch of Striped Cream Violet (Viola striata).

Striped Cream Violet

We harvested a lot that day. There are so may things you can do with violets and I just couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. Since I was leaving for England a few weeks later I just decided to infuse them in oil.

 

I wanted to go out and harvest some raspberry leaves for tea but the leaves weren’t large enough to harvest before I left for my trip. I did actually go out and started harvesting some leaves that were big enough, but as I was harvesting leaves I realized I was harvesting blackberry leaves…whoops. I should have know better. That’s what rushing got me.

One plant I really was hoping to find this spring was morels. I’m not a fan mushrooms but my friends tell me they are wonderful to eat. Morel hunting is a rather common thing in South-Eastern Ohio. Not only are the mushrooms great to eat but they can fetch you some big bucks if you find enough. Since this is a common thing it meant that as soon as morel season started everyone and their grandma was out looking for them.

My first trip out looking for morels I actually did on my own since my friends were in class. I didn’t find anything but I also wasn’t trying very hard. I honestly just ended up exploring and coming across some of the coolest things.

My second trip out I went with Tori and Rachel. We searched and we searched and didn’t come up with anything. We had a great time walking in the woods even though we couldn’t find any morels.

morel hunting 3
Left to right: Rachel, Tori, Me

 

My third time out I went with my friends Travis and Tori. We spent a few hours walking along the bike path looking for morels. We found some good spots but they were most likely eaten by animals or already taken. We went pretty far down the bike bath looking for morels and then we noticed the sky getting darker. Then we heard some thunder in the distance. Like many of the storms that we had gotten those few weeks, the storms would sprinkle or just pass through. I thought we would be fine until Travis said that we needed to go. Now.

morel hunting before the storm
The three of us minutes before the storm

So we started heading back towards campus. The clouds continued to darken and the thunder became louder and louder and the lightning came closer and closer. We passed by a small apartment complex and the tornado alarms started going off. A little old lady was outside looking around and told us to hurry up and get home.
We were about half of a mile away from the nearest building on campus when there was a flash of lightning and a very loud crack of thunder that made both me and Tori yelp and then take off running. It started sprinkling and after a few minutes of running, I had to stop. I do have asthma. After about a minute the wind started picking up and the rain was coming down harder. We started to book it to a little trail map informational booth that had a tiny roof on it. As soon as we got there we huddled by the sign and it began to pour. And then hail.
Two poor guys who had been riding their bikes joined us under the sign shortly after it began to hail. After it stopped hailing and the rain lightened up we ran across the street to a little pioneer village they use for classes and events and took shelter under one of the porches. The storm did not last that long and I’m just thankful we got to cover before it started hailing.

IMG_1267c
After all of that, we did not find any morels. At least we got to see a double rainbow.

 

So that was my adventureful 2016 Spring harvest. Were you able to get out and harvest some plants this spring?

Photos © Morgan Pencek, all rights reserved