The old farm house I live in, located in the small hamlet of Wicklow, 20 kms east of Cobourg and just a little west of Colborne; where the Big Apple is, has an amazing property along the waterfront of Lake Ontario. The house was owned by a lady named Sheila, who lived here most of her life, spending most of her time being in the great outdoors. I can understand why Sheila loved to live here, there is a beautiful old barn, a gorgeous meadow surrounding it, and damp woods with paths running through it. I also spend most of my time outdoors, even after working at the farm all day, I want to wander the woods to see what I can find.
Luckily for me, this property is a gold mine of wild edibles and precious plants. I have made it my hobby to collect the plants, hang them to dry and use them in teas or other ways of consuming them. I have decided that I will make my Wednesday blog dedicated to wild edibles and help you to understand that those weeds in your yard, or garden are actually delicious, nutritious and not obnoxious.
A flowering plant that most people recognize from the side of the highway, in meadows, woodlands and open areas is the Sweet Rocket. It stands tall with either white or light purple flowers that look similar to phlox, however sweet rocket flower has four petals and phlox has five. The flowers are very fragrant, especially in the evening. Sweet rocket is in the Brassicaceae family which also includes mustard, radishes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. The flowers are great for attracting wildlife, are hermaphrodite,and pollinated by bees and other insects and bloom from April to July.
The edible parts of Sweet Rocket are the young leaves which can be tossed raw into salads or other dishes, and the flavour mimicks that of arugula. To avoid having a bitter bite to your salad, harvest the leaves when the plant is young and before it flowers. However the flowers can also be eaten, adding a mustard flavour to your dish and a punch of beauty. The seeds can be sprouted or pressed, because it contains 50% edible oil. The leaves are rich in vitamin C, A B1, B2, B6, E, K, and also contain calcium, iron and magnesium. This wild edible contains vital phytonutrients and antioxidants that support good health.
Sweet Rocket grows on the edge of my property which I walk past everyday to work. I cut a big chunk down and hung it upside down to dry in my room, which also acted as decoration. When I removed the plant to replace the area on my wall with a shelf I built, I placed the bundle on the floor, which was immediately attacked by my two kittens. They loved the frilly flowers, chewable stalks and crinkly leaves, within minutes my room was pleasantly scattered with Sweet Rocket. The dried stems have been a constant source of entertainment for the cats and me.
Sweet Rocket has many benefits and is waiting in a woodland near you to be found and foraged.