Green Wizardries – Green Soup and Seedlings

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Green Wizardries,  Green Soup and Seedlings by Maxine Rogers

I made a pot of green soup.  I heard about it on Danu’s Irish Herb Garden on YouTube.  I recommend this channel as Terri Conroy, the host, is a good herbalist and listening to her always makes me feel happy.  

 Green soup is a wonderful spring tonic and collecting the greens is fun.  I went around with a wicker basket and picked nettle tops, chickweed, dandelion greens, kale, green onions and chives.  I have never cooked with weeds before and was not at all sure how the soup would taste.  People always talk about dandelion being bitter.   I love chickweed and am happy to put its very mild-tasting leaves in salads but had never cooked it before either.   

I started off with some goose fat to fry the onion and then, once the onion was translucent, lots of chopped garlic.  I chopped the nettle tops, wearing a clean gardening glove to protect myself from the stings, and added that to the pot.  I harvested the chickweed with scissors to make sure I didn’t damage any roots.  I can never grow enough chickweed.  Our chickens and ducks love the stuff and it makes a very soothing eye wash and antihistamine cream.  I chopped the chickweed up and added it to the pot. 

The dandelion was next and  I think it has a great future as a garden vegetable as it is a perennial and very deep rooted.  I have a splendid dandelion in my vegetable garden that I do not weed out because the early bumble bees need the nectar from the very attractive dandelion flowers.  

I chopped up the kale and green onions and added them.  Once all the greens were wilted, I added a quart of home-made chicken stock.  I make my own stock in a huge pot and pressure can it.  Pressure canning is a great skill to have in the country to can stock and soups.  Having them ready to use in the pantry makes it so easy to make a quick meal and it can save your life when everyone in the house is too ill to cook.  I hear there has been a Noro-style tummy sickness going around.  Condolences if you have that.  

One the greens were cooked, I squeezed a couple of organic lemons and added the juice to the soup.  Then, I beat a couple of eggs in a bowl and added the hot stock to them gently. I poured the creamy eggs into the hot but not boiling soup to give it a nice creamy texture.  This is a sort of variation on avgolemono soup without the rice.  You can skip the lemons and finish the soup with cream or coconut cream.  This soup is very versatile.  I finished the soup by adding chopped chives at the last moment.  The only other things I added were sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.  

People used to be desperate for the first spring greens because they could not go to the grocery store and buy stale, pesticide-soaked greens from California and Mexico all winter.  Having tried this soup, I think you only have to make it once to understand the value of these fresh, wild, spring greens.  My husband loved the soup and the dandelions did not taste bitter at all.

Now, onto the seedlings.  My propagation shelves  are quite full and my greenhouse tables are filling up with seedlings.  I took a friend in to the greenhouse to show her the seedlings and she asked me why I was blowing on them.  A seedling in nature feels the wind shaking its stem.  This causes the seedling to produce a hormone that strengthens its stem.  Without this stimulus, the seedling grows a weak stem and falls over.  In commercial greenhouses, I have seen people using  fans and even a mechanical device to brush the seedlings.  

As soon as the seedlings have their first true leaves, I begin to give them a weak fertilizer.  I use human urine diluted with ten parts of water and I use seaweed tea.  The plants love both brews and grow strong and stocky.  To get human urine, pee into a bucket or purchase a Luggable Loo from Canadian Tire.  It is a tall bucket with a toilet seat attached and you just pour the resulting urine into a watering can and top it up with water.  Dahlias just love human urine.  In fact, I cannot think of a plant that doesn’t like it: roses, geraniums, apple trees, squash.  They all flourish on a diet of human urine which contains mostly nitrogen but it also has a little phosphorus for fruiting and flowering.

To make seaweed tea, soak some fresh or dried seaweed in a bucket of water for two or three days.  Strain out the seaweed and put it in the compost bin.  Water your plants and then give them a shot of seaweed tea.  I use either brew especially when I am transplanting as it saves the plants from transplant shock.  I did this when I was staying over on Hornby with a friend.  The next morning, she was amazed at how robust the transplants were and has been using this trick ever since.  Happy Gardening!

TIG
Author: TIG

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