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My Favorite Neighborhood Empty Lot

Abandoned houses can be found everywhere. Bad for the economy, yes; but very good for herbalists!

One of my favorite (yes, I have favorite empty lots, parking lots, curbside neglected gardens and abandoned houses) abandoned houses is on Stark St around East 29th or so. I am glad I enjoyed it while I could, because it is now being re-vamped and getting ready to be on the market again.

I harvested basket after basket of chrysanthemum blossoms from this lot. Chrysanthemum is an herb I became familiar with from studying the Chinese pharmacopeia. It is cool, sweet and bitter with a special affinity for the Liver channel. Did I say bitter?! Man, it is almost too bitter for my taste. Luckily, it blends well with others, especially it’s Chinese herbal classic partner for vision, goji berries. The Liver is affiliated with the eyes in Chinese medicine, and this herb is useful for red, irritated eyes and head ache in this area. Being a relative to chamomile, I’d wager it’s bitterness to work on on digestion, too.

I love these fairy-like Love-in-a-mists. They grow all over town in empty lots and manicured gardens alike. Nigella damascena is a Ranunculaceae or buttercup family member, and related Nigella orblock, black cumin seeds. I munched on their seeds, not much to report.

Plants never cease to amaze. Who would’ve thought that the green and pink-hued flowers of a common dock would be so beautiful? I seriously started at these guys for a while.

The best thing about empty lots is that they are loaded with good old fashioned weeds. Lots of ’em. This plantain was growing like mad, at double the size of my hand, especially impressive in a town where Plantago major is actually the minority of plantains. I also harvested some succulent red clover blooms from this neglected driveway.

A word of caution about empty lots:

Take a good look around the lot, scanning for any rusting metals, empty oil cans, or anything else that may contribute environmental toxins to the soil. Many plants are excellent bio-remediators, sucking the heavy metals into their bodies and thus healing the soil. We don’t want to use those same plants as medicine; so be mindful!
Happy harvesting!


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