Hollyhock & Hecticness

Scrap Kitchen 23- Wasp stings, edible flowers and market stalls

Virgo season is in full swing, and its new moon bought a kick of energy.

That boost is needed more now than ever. It seems I am always saying this is the busy part of the year. It was said in spring, the farm was prepping and making seedlings. Then later in early summer, when everything needed planting at once. And now, I feel again, is crunch time. Maybe, on the farm, it is always crunch time.

To be fair though, now would be the wind down time. The last push before winter, but a manageable gathering and preserving of abundance. Instead, we are down two people on a five person team, and my right arm is twice the size (wasps are wonderful pollinators but also rat-bastards). Sleep, at this time, is the only healer. That and the glorious collection of fresh vegetables that keep us going. I actually wrote about staving off burnout for Refresh Mag a while back. Following my own advice on this one and doing nowt on our days off is going to be a priority. Until then, I’m writing a quick Scrap Kitchen and going to bed before the sun sets.

The tarot card for this week is the seven of pentacles, reaping what you sow. In this card a farmer (lol), or at least someone working the land, surveys their harvest. The physical embodiment of their labour. Now they must choose what to do with it, this card asks you to look at what you have created but also at what’s next. How will you use this bounty? How will you reap the rewards of this work? Will you slow down now, and let it rot on the vine?

When I haven’t been asleep, or loosing a fight against vital pollinators, I have been collecting lots of Hollyhock seeds. These seeds have been found not only on our farm, but in the decorative front patch of a coffeeshop where we have our veg stand. Once you have your eye in they are pretty easy to spot. Hollyhocks have a distinctive, imposing stature, their flowers are similar to that of hibiscus and they are native to Europe and Asia. While only one species is known to be native to the americas they seem to pop up all over the place here. Another vestige of colonisation, not only by people but by their gardening trends. The European botanical craze for Hollyhock in the 19th century has lead to not only their spread but the wide array of colours that botanists have created.

Hollyhock are actually a direct relative of Mallow, which I have covered before. This means they are also a relation of Okra, which explains the high levels of mucilage present in their leaves and flowers. Unlike mallow, the roots of hollyhock are somewhat tougher and less appealing. The leaves can be used like spinach when young and tender and more like mulukhia when older. Using herbs like Mallow or Hollyhock can help sooth inflammation in mucus membranes, which is great with cold season coming up. The flowers, have a delicate taste and I have been using them to add natural yeast to my kombucha to carbonate it. They can also be tossed onto a salad, incorporated into a simple syrup, dried, brewed into a tea or used as a natural dye.

While the flowers themselves are great, I would recommend leaving them on the plant for local pollinators and waiting a little longer for the real bounty: the seeds. Collecting and storing hollyhock seeds couldn’t be easier. Once the flower have all by fallen off, you will be able to see the seed pods underneath.Wait until these pods not only get dry and crisp, then pick them off and take out the seeds within. Check out this quick guide for more info. Waiting until a plant gets to “full dry maturity” helps with ensuring the most possible energy goes into maturing the seed. The stronger the seed, the better it will sprout next year. The seeds can actually be used to make marshmallows, or saved for next year. If left in place, Hollyhocks will perenialise meaning they will comeback each year. So when taking seed, be sure not to take too much, unless you’re planning on starting many other patches, or sprinkling them city wide in a frenzy of guerrilla gardening.

In non-herbal foods, this week we have a lot of Aubergine on our hands. This has been transformed into Baba Ganoush and a vegan “Eggplant Parm”. My next task is to veganise one of my favorite pizzas, which is tomato-less and topped with aubergine and rocket. With the change of season I am also working on brewing up some Fire Cider; if it doesn’t scare a cold away, I don’t know what will.

On the sweeter side, apples are coming in. Especially on the family trees back home. I can’t wait to make crumbles, pies, and warm spiced breakfasts with the apples on the farm trees. At the market last week we were gifted my first fig of the year, it tasted delicious, sweet and not at all like a wasp. We are also getting a whole tonne of melons down in our warmer farm land, but those I will be covering next time (because the sun is setting and I have a date with my bed).

This week’s podcast is from Becca Piastrelli of Belonging, about the dark moon, and the spaces of rest we need to inhabit.

Thanks to everyone who is reading this, sending me info and commenting. Every person who saves a little more seed and forages a little more food is a boss ass bitch and I love you. So thanks for all the support, see you on the flip side.

Until then, stay scrappy


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