In some of my previous posts, I mentioned having a pond on our property that is currently growing copious amounts of cattails. When we first moved in, the pond had a few scattered here and there... but since then, they have exploded and now take up about half of the pond's area.
Now I know most people hate the things; they think that they are invasive and are terribly difficult to eradicate. I, on the other hand, see them as an opportunity!
Cattails have many great properties, and I have been looking forward to testing out all of the different uses I have read about. Not only are they a mecca of wild edibles (the tubers can be mashed and cooked like potatoes, the young inner green shoots can be sauteed, and the fluffy tops can be ground down and used like a type of flour), but the outer leaves have been used as a weaving material.
We have not tried cooking any of the parts yet, but awhile back, Tad donned his water gear and went into the pond to harvest some leaves for me.
After removing most of the largest, unbent leaves, I placed them in our barn on raised nets to dry for a few weeks. Drying them in shade instead of in intense sunlight helps preserve the color.
Once dried, I invited my friend Anna out to the farm to embark on a basket weaving mission.
My basket... well let us just say turned out to be a crapshoot. The pieces I used were too short, and about two inches in, I realized that my beloved basket would turn out to be less basket and more... tray.
So I chucked the thing away and let my cats chew on it.
Anna's, however, turned out to be beautiful! It has given me hope that I can actually use the abundance of cattails for something more than just compost material.
If you are interested in learning how to weave baskets, there is a series on youtube by a lady called BasketMaster that outlines the major aspects. We watched about 7 of the videos... but honestly, after the first few, you should get the idea. She goes into great, great detail about how to weave over, and then under... and then over, and under... over... under.
It is super easy. You will catch on quickly, I promise.