I’ve also been learning about basket making recently. We have wisteria totally taking over our porch (I assume this was planted at some point, but it’s totally feral now…given one good growing season with no one to prune it, it would easily bury our house, and only another season or two before it would complete it’s prime objective to TAKE OVER THE WORLD). I hear that the vines make great basket material, so I just collected a bunch of it and hung it to dry. Someone on a gardening list I’m on suggested that I make the basket first, and then let the vines dry, but I’ve read in some books that this make for a very loose basket, since the vines shrink as they dry and open up spaces in the basket. I was thinking i would dry it and then soak it for working. But now that I think about it, it’s just as likely to shrink after I re-soak it. Hmmm.
I’ve also been pondering uses for blackberries. Here in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll never run out of blackberry. Seems to me that the blackberry vines would make fine basket material also, with the thorns removed. Of our 17 acres, about 3 of it is solid blackberry thickets, so I could make baskets until my ears fell off if I wanted to.
I also took a walk down the road yesterday, to a spot where I saw some mullien growing. Mullien is like the Aloe Vera of the west. Antihistamine, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, growth promoter, good for sunburns, and lots of other stuff. Anyway, as I was walking back, I walked past a neighbors unused pasture and noticed that it was full of ox-eye daisies, which are really tasty, and I though I would ask if they minded me harvesting some of the leaves for our salad last night. So you should know that I totally don’t fit in, in the part of the country where I live. I have a mohawk, and I wear a funky cowboy hat with a leopard print bandanna around it, and am always covered in dirt and spiderwebs from crawling around in the bushes (I just can’t resist following deer trails). I live in a *very* conservative part of the country, outside of an active logging town. So there I am carrying this big old stalks of mullien with the dirty roots still attached, kinda sweaty from walking down the road in the sun, wearing my hat, and I saunter up the long driveway to this very fancy house and knock on the door. The woman who answered was totally freaked out, and told me that I could help myself to the daisies just to get rid of me. I had to laugh, but it was also kind of sad to me. If some girl showed up on your doorstep carrying strange plants and wearing strange clothes, wouldn’t that make you want to know more about her? It’s sad that so many people allow their first reaction to something new be fear instead of curiousity. But anyway, the daisy leaves were fabulous in the thai noodle dish I made, and I’m working on peeling the mullein leaves off the stalks to dry them for storage. I’ll also dry the stalks, since I hear that mullien is one of the really good stalks for making friction fire with, once it’s dried.