Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Crimson and Clover

"Now I don't hardly know her. But I think I could love her...."

Nothing like Tommy James and the Shondelles to get us pumped for today's post!

Today I thought I would bring you a post about our garden. It's not the immaculately weeded and expertly cultivated garden of my dreams. You won't find any tomatoes or zucchini here, either. I'm talking about Mother Nature's bounty in an empty field. Some of you might come away from this thinking I am some big hippie. That may be. We love to recycle, and I could wear Birkenstock's (or any brand of flippy floppies) year round. I'm an aspiring amateur herbalist. And I love pretty things-- especially if they are good for me, too.

We are fortunate to have a large, empty field behind our home. It is not part of our property, unfortunately, but the owner has given us free roam of the space as long as we pick up after ourselves. It's a perfect little hill of a field-- great for flying kites or doing cartwheels in the grass. It's also abundant with clover right now.

White clover is such a fun little plant. Bees love it. Horses love it. And I love it, too. It's a wonderful earth medicine that is abundant all summer long. It's crazy good for you, and you might be lucky enough to have this in your yard, too!

Not only does clover fight the common cold, soothe coughs and do away with migraines, but it also promotes healthy hair and fingernails. It has a plethora of detoxing benefits, too.

One of my favorite ways to use clover blossoms is in tea. It is easy to dry and save for the cold winter months, and provides lots of FREE medicinal comfort during the flu season. It is easy to adjust for taste, and boiling the dried petals helps extract the healthy goodness in an efficient way. They have a hint of natural sweetness, and can also add a lovely vanilla undertone when added to any batters or baking mixtures.

Here's how we dry our clover blossoms:

Take a brown paper lunch sack and punch holes in it. Fill it with clover blossoms. I usually only fill only 1/4 of the bag so as to leave breathing room for it to dry. Just give your bag a little shake each day to toss the blossoms around, and they should be fully dry within a week or two (depending on how full you filled your bag). You can use them immediately or you can store the dried clover in an airtight container for when you need them.

Clovers are great fresh or dried-- use whichever method you prefer. I like to dry mine so that they are easier to store for the winter months when fresh clover is not available. White clover tea is great on it's own, or you can concoct your own recipes by mixing it with rosehips, hibiscus, nettle, rosemary, or lemon balm. Feel free to add your own spices, like cinnamon, too.

Some tips for collecting clover:

Be conscious of where you are picking. I usually flick the blossom that I am going to pick first to make sure there aren't any bees hiding where I can't see. You obviously don't want to pick one of those. :)

Be cautious of where you step. If you have a ton of clover in your yard, then you might also have a lot of bee's who are visiting the flowers for their pollen. You don't want to step on any of these, either.

Pick the biggest, fullest blossoms. Our bee friends that I mentioned above are great indicators of which blossoms are best. They visit the ripest, sweetest clovers... so once they are done visiting a flower, feel free to pick it in confidence.

Don't pick every flower in the patch. Leave some for the bees. We are lucky enough to have a very large field which makes it easy to skip from cluster to cluster and collect a large amount of clover.

Clover is abundant year round. Don't feel like you have to spend all day picking everything in sight. More blossoms will pop up again and again. The field behind our house is mowed every so often, too.

Clover blossom picking is a great outdoor activity for the kids! My daughter loves being a part of nature, and it's a great way to show her how to respect it. We watch the bees, and talk about their journey from flower to flower, and eventually to their hive where they make honey.

If you have outdoor pets and are picking blossoms from your yard, be conscious of where they do their business, and not "shop" near there. My dogs have a particular spot in the yard they like to frequent, and so we make sure to stay far away from that spot.

Do not pick and use your clover blossoms if you chemically fertilize your yard or use weed killer. I doubt clover would survive on grass that is sprayed with Roundup, but then again I wouldn't know since we do not use that stuff. The field around our property is mowed every other week, and that is the only "maintenance" it receives.

Image via

Have you tried clover blossom tea, or are you willing to try it? Have any other secret herbalist tips to share? I'd love to hear about them!

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