Siwk, or spring, has arrived on the West Coast of Ktaqmkuk, where I call home, Codroy Valley. The Katalisk Sipu, also known as the Grand Codroy River, is high; green shoots and leaves are everywhere and we’re busy collecting medicine and herbs from the land for the various forms of body care products that we offer through our farm, Katalisk Sipu Gardens.

Now is the time to start collecting closed alder catkins and last year’s Labrador Tea foliage, for tea. We also start looking for last year’s ostrich ferns now, searching close to the ground to see if any new growth is pushing through yet. If they are, we make a note of where and check them every few days so we don’t miss them. They unfurl pretty quickly!

Open Alder, Willow

We also begin collecting second or third-year willow bark for tea and tincture in Punatmuiku’s, or April-month.  Willow Bark Tincture, made by steeping the peeled bark in alcohol, can be used for mild pain relief. 

If you see pussy willows flowering in your area, look up and notice if the gulls are coming up the streams, brooks and rivers and moving around away from the shore.  If so, there is increased fish activity in the fresh water.

Those alder catkins we collect can be used to make a beautiful, golden infused oil for moisturizing and scenting.  Here’s how we do this:

Closed Alder ready for infusing. Fir in the background.
Closed Alder ready for infusing. Fir in the background.

Simply put them in a jar, cover the catkins with olive oil or sunflower oil and leave them in a cool, dark place for four to six weeks. Strain the oil and store it in a sealed jar.  You can use it as is or combine it one-to-one with Newfoundland beeswax to make a beautifully scented anti-inflammatory salve!

You can also eat alder catkins.  We use them to flavour soups and stews, dry and grind them like pepper and add them along with salt to season fish and as a finish for cooked meat, potatoes, carrots or even popcorn.

Nmultis app ankweyasi,

Megan Samms
Katalisk Sipu Gardens
Codroy Valley, NL

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