A couple of weeks ago we had asparagus with creamed eggs on toast for a Springtime Sunday morning breakfast. It was the same day that the church we “Zoom” to, had their first service in the sanctuary after a “Sabbath” period of fourteen months. So, this celebration was not only for Spring but also for the progressive dial back on COVID. And, we celebrated with wild asparagus!
Here’s our breakfast plate of celebration. Asparagus grows wild at the Creek and in the ditches along the Stateline. For generations our family has picked these first veggies of early Spring, but there’s always been competition. We get “rustlers” who poach the patches along the gravel road. They come driving delivery trucks, pickups, cars, and all terrain vehicles. Dad used to talk about putting up a sign that said: ”This ditch has been sprayed. Help yourself!” But, he never did. The photo on the right shows how the sprouts vary from clump to clump. The purple tops are from a patch that is between two patches with green tops.
We have fewer problems with asparagus rustlers these days because we have moved the harvest from the road ditch to along the sides of our driveway. The purple-topped plants are marked in the first photo and the neighboring green-topped bunch is shown in the second one. In addition to differences in color, the two bunches have plants of different diameters; the purple ones are fatter and the green ones are more skinny. We didn’t plant these clusters of wild asparagus, but Margaret does clear and maintain them for maximum productivity.
The patch shown in the left photo is her latest expansion. Again, it’s a wild plant that’s established and then she cleans up around it. That encourages it to expand and her systematic picking helps maintain the harvest all spring. This particular patch is located near our house where our two grandsons had a building project. The structure was called “Castle Blue” (named for the blue tarp used for the roof), but it’s gone now and the boys are now teenagers. The photo on the right shows our first meal of fresh asparagus from earlier in the month. The Folks always steamed it, but we’ve also had it pan-fried, oven roasted, and charcoal grilled.
Here’s another Springtime treat that we usually have at about the same time as the asparagus. I’ve heard it called “pie plant” but it’s all rhubarb to us and we generally have jam rather than pie. This is another local food plant that goes back several generations, but is still used and enjoyed today.
Here are two more local editable plants. We don’t do anything with the gooseberries that will eventually grow from the blossoms on the left, but we do know people who enjoy them. On the hand, apples have a long history on this homestead and on many others along Kanaranzi Creek. This old tree is one of the last ones we’ve got and each year the crop is more limited.
And finally, here’s a native prairie plant that provided fruit for both the Euro-American settlers and the Native Americans. These blossoms are on some of the last surviving chokecherry trees on the Farm. Chokecherries aren’t for everybody, but Margaret’s Dad used eat a whole mouth-full at a time. Although we’ve never used them, they can make some damn fine jelly. This blog doesn’t often do product endorsements, but the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa sells some really good chokecherry jelly. They’ve also got great maple syrup and wild rice. You can order online and here’s the link: https://redlakenationfoods.com/
Please support this Native American entrepreneurial enterprise. Celebrate Spring!