Backyard Edible Plants

Backyard Edible Plants

Highland Hill Farm of Doylestown Pa.just doesn''t sell and install "landscaping beauty." We''re providing you with food and raw materials! Of course you already know that you can use the wood from your trees instead of going to a lumber yard or home supplies center. You''ve learned about the historical use of the Viburnum''s straight branches for making arrow shafts. Then, the hardwood trees you have planted can provide fruits or nuts.

But did you know you can rub the powder found on the bark of a Quaking Aspen tree on your skin and it works as mosquito repellent. You see, mosquito repellent actually works not because the mosquitoes are driven away by the offensive smell, but because there are chemical compounds whose odor blocks the mosquito''s sensory receptors effectively hiding us. So, you can be invisible to mosquitoes by buying mosquito repellent with "DEET," an organic hydrocarbon molecule, or use the powder from the bark of your Quaking Aspen tree, an organic molecule from a whole ''nuther source.

Edible Wild plants. Yes you can safely eat the following:

The leaves of the Quaking Aspen also make a tasty tea which will cure minor headaches. The Quaking aspen leaves contain salicylic acid, the active

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ingredient of (acetylsalicylic) aspirin. Silver Birch trees'' bark makes a tea which has long been considered as medicinal as chicken soup.

Arborvitae , the "lifegiving tree," obviously has made a superbly beneficial tea for centuries. The leaves and bark both are boiled in water to yield Vitamin C along with the tannins, etc. and prevent or cure scurvy. Maybe you don''t like orange juice, or more likely, have been given a dietary restriction for citrus fruit. Just have some tea from a Thuja Occidentalis, the Eastern Cedar, or Eastern White Cedar, also called Northern White Cedar, boy oh boy, the Arborvitae sure has alot of names! Anyway, you can check on the value of Arborvitae Tea; Just get a time machine, go back to 1536 near Quebec, and ask the explorer Jacques Cartier and his men. Burdock is edible. (But it tastes very bitter)

From the popular dogwood tree, you can eat the berries. NOT the plant, bark, or leaves, but the Dogwood''s fruit, the berries, are edible (sad note, you will likely find the berries taste almost as bitter as burdock plant). The inside bark of a cottonwood tree tastes pretty fair. The white inside part of a cattail tastes very good. It''s like a mild cucumber. Watercress is sold as a delicacy in

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restaurants. It has a strong flavor, tasting rather spicy like radishes) Poplar bark is tolerable. Anise is truly delicious if you like black licorice. Dandelion leaves make a great salad, the roots can be roasted and then ground to make a kind of coffee or tea drink with boiled water, or you can even make dandelion wine. Any kind of mint can be grown alongside your shrubs and flowers. Be sure you harvest it often or some species of mint will become "an invasive" and take over your whole yard.

Wild rose hips can be rather expensive to buy, but are high in Vitamin C, an ingredient in many teas. Just don''t eat the flowers or plant stems. Thistle is more like a weed, a real weed, but if you''ll scrape the thorns off (duh!) you can eat the leaf or the inside of the blossom as salad greens. Berries. whether strawberries, raspberries, chokecherries (can seem like too much pit to be worth it), currants (Tart tasting), serviceberries, gooseberries (green, "stripy" and very TART!), purple elderberries (red ones are poisonous), cranberries, and best of all, blueberries are just about the best example of what we can eat that grows wild. Don''t eat sumac berries, they are poisonous!

Prickly Pear Cactus is indeed a succulent. Scrape off the

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skin, boil the inside, and you''ll see why it is botanically classified as "succulent." Clover can be eaten as a salad green. You can even eat the four-leafed ones for extra folic acid to go with your good luck. Did you know it has been claimed an apple can be more helpful for waking up in the morning than a cup of coffee, or the more caffeine-rich orange-colored teas? A morning or two, try an apple fresh-picked from your own apple tree and see if you feel the lift.

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About the author:

Bill Has been growing trees and plants for 45 years. His home farm is located in Doylestown Pa. 25 miles north of Philadelphia.

Written By: Bill Hirst

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