As I write this the Queen Ann’s Lace is blooming beside highways and open fields.
They have white flowers and leaves that look like that of a carrot, and it is a good thing too because another name for the plant is “wild carrot.”
The connection between “Daucus carota” and people goes back a very long time. Before there were orange carrots, there were these.
The lacy bloom is actually an umbrella of tiny white flowers.
If you’d like to try your hand at finding natural food, this is a good place to start.
The tap root gets woody as the summer goes on, so now is an OK time to pull a few.
Loosen the ground around the plant with a tool to prevent breaking the thing and gently pull the root out, which is white, not orange. The root is long and skinny.
If there is any doubt whether or not you have a wild carrot, scratch the root and smell it.
After you have it in your hand, the rest is up to you but you can then just treat it like a carrot.
Elderberry bushes are in full bloom in South Georgia and just beginning to show above the fall line and in the Midwest. You find them along ditches and fences.
Like the wild carrot, what appears as one large bloom is really a bunch of tiny blooms but they are huge.
This is a good time to mark elderberry bushes because once they ripen they are difficult to see.
Some people, such as Miss Jewell, raise elderberries to make jelly and other wonderful things.
Jewell started her line on the back fence by pulling suckers and re-planting them in her back yard. She found a particularly desirable elderberry plant with large berries and rooted a number from that one plant.
I enjoyed elderberry jelly but went about picking the tiny berries off the head in totally the wrong way. The ripe berries are easy to squish, so you will only get a few berries, no juice and stained fingers.
Miss Jewell said that when the berries turn dark and birds start showing interest, take a plastic grocery bag and cover the head, then secure the handles with string. Snip off the head from the stalk with cutters and put that in the freezer with the head still in the plastic bag.
Once the berries are frozen, throw the bagged head on the floor. The frozen berries will pop off the little stems and stay in the bag. Pour the berries into a dish pan of water. The berries will sink and little bits of stem and trash will float.
Pour off the water and you have clean berries to do whatever you like.
Miss Jewell’s hoard of plants produces (maybe) a gallon of juice.
I asked her once how she manages to make that much jelly and she replied that “not everybody makes jelly.”
“Some people might make a little elderberry wine, but we’re Methodists.”