Posts Tagged ‘Dandelion’

Yes, We Have a Cash Crop! And Other Blessings in Disguise…

I suppose it was bound to happen. I’ve seen this trend with so many clients, friends and family members; I don’t know why I thought that I’d remain immune. Yesterday morning, I even had a dream that “things are not what they appear,” and not to get caught up in former expectations. At the same time I received that dream message, my sister got a cosmic download for me, too — in the shower of all places! I awoke to her texts:

“Got a pretty strong message for you this am in the shower …. they want you to remain open. God and the angels are with you and helping you and everything WILL be not only fine but wonderful. …But it may not come the way you think. …try to really practice mindful detachment. … Just neutrally observe what comes up and let it go … God and the angels totally have you covered, just be open to letting it happen. and right now it feels like they know some key info that you/we don’t yet. Just keep positive with your intention but let them work out the details of how to get there. …”

We both assumed those messages related to a particularly annoying 3D challenge I’ve been plugging away at for a long time but with which I am finally experiencing rapid, longed for changes. Today, I realized the messages we both received were also about …

Our Yard.

Oh, yes, I have big plans for this yard. It’s going to be an amazing little eco-faery-permaculture-medicinal herb-food garden-wild edibles-bird, bee and butterfly sanctuary nestled in a very unlikely spot. Yes, indeed, and I have been harvesting wild violet salads and dandelion greens for “beanie greenies” and dandelion smoothies like a good little wild forager eco-chick. I’ve even got “new” grubbies from a synchronous sale at Goodwill, so I can be the true Faery Farmer without messing up my “real” clothes:

Dandelion Faery

Yep, that’s me, sporting the very classy/totally dorked out duds on my way out of the mudroom this morning to haul yet more wood mulch around my precious raised beds to keep them pristine and separate from the rest of the wild, wild yard. I’m tired. I have been hauling mulch for weeks, and while the yard looks like it has a plan, and we have four raised beds in various stages of assembly and soil filling, it still looks like a giant meadow out there. Despite the fact that David just mowed the lawn two days ago!

I assessed my progress and realized I needed another three feet of mulch around the front of the raised bed area, so out came the landscape cloth, yard cart, pitchfork (yep, I’ve become hardcore with this wood mulch. No more 5 gallon buckets … we’re talking wheels, here!), and more cardboard. Out came the wind, too, blowing my freshly cut strips of landscape cloth all over the dandelion filled yard. By the time I caught the long panels, they were covered in fine dandelion seeds. Someone, somewhere giggled, but it wasn’t me. Yet. I weighted down the other landscape cloth strips while dumping mulch on the first one. Load after heavy load. Man, my back began to hurt. I looked over at the fluttering landscape cloth only to see even more dandelion seeds blowing into and sticking on the cloth.

I decided to distract myself from this Sisyphean labor by stirring the compost pile. When I looked inside, I realized that the mulched grass clippings David had kindly added to the pile on Thursday were a) not dried and b) filled with little white dandelion seeds. Everywhere I looked this morning, I saw dandelion seeds or dandelion flowers. Thousands and thousands of yellow and white heads blowing in the breeze, scattering themselves on every bare spot, sticking to my hair, making me sneeze, popping up in mulch.

Normally, I love dandelions, and I’ve been known to pay $5.99 a bunch for fresh dandelion greens in the dead of winter, because I’m just that odd. I drink dandelion root tea, and I’ve used dandelion root tinctures to support my liver. In fact, dandelion greens and dandelion tea are two of my favorite things in the entire world of natural food store shopping.

But this morning … arrgh … this morning, I was not enjoying the dandelions. I had just somewhat successfully waged the Garlic Mustard War — a week-long series of battles against garlic mustard, a highly invasive, though also edible weed. After collecting a trash can full last week and lugging that heavy can to the curb, I saw vendors at the Farmer’s Market selling bags of garlic mustard for $4 each. I used to love the stuff myself — it makes a great pesto — but David and I OD’d on it in Madison and haven’t re-acquired the taste yet. In any case, I uprooted and tossed the garlic mustard, because I’ve seen entire forests covered in those biennials, and only uprooting it prevents a monolithic spread once it appears.

The battles of the Garlic Mustard War occur less frequently now and on a smaller scale; however, I really didn’t want to engage in war on another front. Michael Pollan says, “A lawn is Nature under totalitarian rule,” and I spend plenty of time railing against dictatorships and gratuitous wars. The idea of waging war against my beloved dandelions didn’t sit well with me this morning. I started feeling like, well, the government … and that made me want to banish myself in the trash along with the other half can of stinky garlic mustard. I began to gather up the flapping landscape cloth and felt my heart sink as I realized my days as a Faery Farmer had only just begun and already I wanted to retire.

Then something suddenly clicked.

I had been wracking my brain all Fall and Winter for a so-called “cash crop,” but I couldn’t commit to anything that seemed too time intensive or required know-how to grow. Hmmm … I actually buy dandelions and dandelion products — sometimes at quite high retail prices — because I appreciate their flavor, nutritional profile, and medicinal value. In the midst of my aching back and increasing sense of defeat by Nature, I remembered that I had agreed to take on this permaculture project (our yard) because it involved working with Nature. If I had planted a crop with this kind of yield, I would have been thrilled. I looked around and reminded myself that in permaculture (and life) “the problem is the solution.” “Ask and you shall receive.” “Nature’s first law is abundance.” I’d wanted a fool proof, high yield cash crop, and I stood surrounded by massive volumes of a plant whose every single part offers valuable food and medicine.

Perspective.

Funny. Yesterday, after my sister and I both received our little downloads that things would be “better than fine,” so long as I didn’t get hung up on my expectations of the how, a youtube video suddenly jumped out at me. This guy shares how he made $900 with his dandelions. “Pay attention, Laura…we don’t give you and your sister a simultaneous double-whammy message to remain open-minded and then just drop the ball. Seriously, girl … we use it all. ‘Can you hear me now?'”

As I shifted my attitude this morning, I began to collect the pretty yellow flowers.

Lots and lots of flowers:

Dandelion HarvestDandelion Harvest 2

I looked up recipes for Dandelion Wine and Dandelion Jelly and decided to freeze my stash while determining if I want to use the traditional sugar or some other healthier sweetener(s). Do I want to “wild ferment” ala Sandor Katz, or use some other method? Will I use the Perfect Pickler? Do I need to gather pretty little jelly jars? Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, this huge collection of flowers didn’t even make a noticeable dent in the field. I could go out tomorrow and the next day and collect the same amount and still not see any visible reduction. Talk about abundance!

My mind began turning around other recipe possibilities like dandelion chips (as opposed to kale chips), superfood bars with dandelion greens as a base, and the possibility of bagging up the greens for someone to sell for me at the Farmer’s Market. At this point, I don’t know exactly how I will monetize this harvest, but I’ve reached a point of equilibrium and gratitude, realizing that Nature gives back to those who love her.

I decided to share my experience, because it mirrors that of so many people walking by Faith right now. People who’ve felt strongly guided in unusual directions who feel good about their choices but suddenly face a seemingly impossible block. That block usually comes out of nowhere and offers such overwhelming challenges that it temporarily rocks their Faith. (That’s when I usually hear from them: “Did I just totally misinterpret all those signs?!?” “Is the Universe messing with me?!” “Did God just open all those doors so he could slam this one in my face and laugh?!”)

As James Gilliland recently wrote, we’re experiencing a 5D overlay on the old reality. Many of us are already living most of our lives in the new reality, but when we pop back into the not-quite-ended old paradigm, the contrast feels like a smack upside the head. Those of us preparing bridges between the old and new realities will occasionally become overwhelmed by the vast contrast between the beauty, healing and instant manifestation of the new world … and the boots-on-the-ground, bone-crushing fatigue, pushed-beyond-all-limits work preparing the old world for its grand Transmutation.

Most people in this situation, regardless of chosen field, find themselves needing to engage Nature or some kind of Nature-benefiting practice in order to embrace and eventually transcend the challenge. Guess what? Healing our planet is priority number one, so that twist makes perfect sense, however surprising it initially appears. If you find yourself beaten down by “time” or by physical “limitations,” then I suggest you take a breath, step back, and remember the bigger picture. Refocus on where you know you’re headed; recognize how wonderful you and your world are in process of becoming; then remind yourself, “The problem is the solution.”

We’re all being rewired right now. This shift involves as much of a perspective shift as a physical one, because perspective plays such a key role in how we manifest. Mother Earth knows what she’s doing. We need to stick with her and try to trust her. In the process of regaining our intimacy with Nature, we will experience the true joy and freedom that come from remembering how to trust ourselves.

Dandelion Wisdom

Today we have a guest blog post from Madison herbalist and founder of Wildwood Institute, Kathleen Wildwood. David and I have attended several of her local herb walks, two Wild Edibles Gourmet Dinners, and plan to take her Making Herbal Medicines Workshop this coming June. Kathleen is a wealth of knowledge and today she shares some information about a much maligned weed and all the benefits it offers. Many thanks to Kathleen for her work and for sending me this article to post:

Green Wisdom from the Plant World

Plants are the original green living experts and we can learn a great deal from them. Whether we call them plants, crops, weeds, or herbs, they each have a part to play in the drama of life on Earth. They contribute to the health of our bodies, the health of the planet and all the creatures that live here. They are the ultimate recyclers, taking sunlight and water, free and abundant, and transforming it into nourishment for themselves, for the soil, for animals, and for us.

Wild plants, especially, can teach us about adaptation, beauty in harsh conditions, evolving in harmony with one’s environment, and healing. Consider, for example, the dandelion. When I give herb walks, even toddlers know the name of these sunny yellow flowers! This plant, often unappreciated to say the least, provides numerous benefits to the living things around it, including ourselves. The seeds are eaten by wild birds, including Canada geese. The leaves are eaten by creatures such as chipmunks, rabbits and even bears.

Of tremendous importance, dandelions also provide an all-season food source for bees. And to top it all off, they improve the health of the soil they grow in rather than degrading it. Did you know that dandelions tend to grow in areas where the soil has been demineralized, and that they help to heal it? The deep taproot brings up beneficial minerals like calcium and potassium, to be incorporated into the leaves and roots. If the plants are not removed, they redeposit these beneficial minerals into the topsoil as they decompose, making it richer and more fertile. They also anchor loose soil against erosion, create drainage channels in compacted ground, and attract earthworms to aerate the soil.

Gardeners may want to consider these benefits when weeding! A student of mine taught her 3 year old son that where the dandelions grow, it is OK to play. Where there is only grass and nothing else, herbicides have been used.This plant’s amazing ability to concentrate minerals makes it a wonderfully nutritious food. All parts of the dandelion are edible, and there are no poisonous look-alikes. Dandelion leaves are tastiest when they are smaller, especially in the early spring, when I like to eat them as part of a wild salad. As the plant matures and puts energy into its flower, the leaves grow more bitter. lf you have been put off in the past by the intensely bitter taste of the large dandelion greens sold in stores, I suggest chopping them small and sauteeing them until tender in some olive oil and garlic’ There is nothing wrong with adding a bit of honey or sugar at the end if you prefer, or you can eat them like your grandmother did with a splash of vinegar to increase mineral absorption.

In addition to being nutritive, quality herbal preparations made from dandelion are safe and effective medicines. For example, did you know that a tea or tincture (extract) of dandelion leaves is the only known diuretic that does not leach potassium from the body? Scientific studies done on rats in the 1970s found, to the surprise of the researchers, that dandelion leaves acted as a diuretic only if one was needed. Dandelions have been used by both traditional and modern herbalists around the world to make remedies for indigestion, increasing lactation, stabilizing blood sugar, and much more. The sap even dissolves warts. The fresh blossoms can be prepared as a facial (see recipe), while dandelion wine is one of the few alcoholic drinks that is actually good for your liver!

On a spiritual level, the yellow flower of the dandelion speaks to the 3rd chakra, which in many traditions is associated with self-esteem, self-care and self-protection’ The spirit healing properties of dandelion are said to include: being aware of and appreciating one’s beauty, inner and outer; delight; playfulness; pleasure; enjoyment; taking things lightly. Picture yourself sitting on a hill in summer, blowing dandelion seeds – how do you feel as you hold that image in mind? Truly, we have much to learn from this untamed and exuberant plant.

Dandelion Blossom Facial:

Place fresh dandelion blossoms in a bowl or jar, and core, with boiling water. Cover the container, and let steep for at least one hour. Strain, reserving both flowers and liquid fusion). Put the warm, wet flowers on your face and lie down for at least 10 minutes. Meditate upon your beauty, both inner and outer. Then wash it all off with the infusion. Do not rinse. You can also splash the infusion on your skin before going to sleep. Cleanses the skin, minimizes pores, and gives a healthy glow.


Kathleen Raven Wildwood
is the founder and director of Wildwood Institute, “bringing the plants to the people and the people to the earth” ™ through education and locally grown herbal products. Wildwood Institute offers classes and apprenticeships in herbalism and natural healing. wildwoodherbs.com – 608-663-9608.

Wild Foraging and Weeds: Why Wild Things Make My Heart Sing

Anyone who follows me on Facebook, walks in the woods (or anywhere!) with me, peruses titles on my growing stack of library books, or visits our backyard may possibly have noticed a teeny tiny obsession with all things wild. This is not something new, but it has most definitely intensified since October 2010, when I took an Urban Foraging Class on my first visit to Madison. In years past, I delighted in dandelions, lambs quarters, nettles and purslane, with the occasional sorrel mixed in for good measure. My friend Cecilia showed me a wild strawberry bush and fig tree in Petaluma, and we spent some blissful times gorging ourselves on Nature’s bounty. Perhaps it’s the faery in me, but I’ve always loved weeds, especially clover that attracts honey bees and Leprechauns … as well as forget-me-nots and all things foresty.

In addition to the woods, medicinal herbs have also held a space close to my heart, especially since I first began my Medical Intuitive practice while doing an apprentice trade with a Seattle herbalist of 50+ years (no longer practicing). In exchange for me “reading” his clients, he taught me what he knew about Chinese, Ayurvedic and Native American Herbal Remedies. We both learned lots and his clients benefited from our joint efforts. In my pre-“I not only believe in past lives, but I offer past life readings” days, he would assure me that I must have spent many lifetimes working as a healer because I seemed to just “know” all the remedies. I’ve gradually learned more on a conscious level, and I’ve obviously gotten over my reluctance to attribute any past life infiltration of knowledge! Still, one thing I missed in working with him was the experience of actual plants. All the herbs he used arrived as powders. The most I interacted with them was by taking them internally or counting capsules for his clients. I appreciated the ways he helped me heal from my brain injury, along with the training, but part of me longed to connect with the plants themselves.

Fast forward ten years: living in a house in eco-friendly Madison has provided me with a yard, unsprayed bike trails, and a community of people interested in permaculture, organic gardening and wild food foraging. I’ve since attended another urban foraging class, as well as a Wild Edibles Dinner, hosted by Kathleen Wildwood of Wildwood Institute. The gourmet, multi-course meal was foraged and prepared by the owners of Moonwise Herbs, and it truly inspired me with more community, delicious, deeply nourishing food, and a greater appreciation of the abundance all around us.

As a Lazy Raw Foodist and newbie gardener, I love so many things about wild foods! For one thing, they grow without effort. Instead of weeding the garden, watering the soil, and carefully fertilizing seedlings, you can just let the weeds have at it. I find this comforting, as I watch how slowly my cultivated seedlings have sprouted and begun to grow, in vast contrast to the abundance and fast spurts of dandelions, lambs quarters and wild violets. Our backyard came with lots of bulb plants like hostas and lillies, but I’ve also found wood nettles, bee balm, garlic mustard (great for pesto!), what appears to be plantain, clover, creeping Jenny, wild lettuces, a transplanted stinging nettle, ferns (for fiddleheads), various now potted mints, and some possibly edible leeks. We also inherited three raspberry bushes, two elderberry trees, and some burdock from a permaculture enthusiast who needed to trim back her bounty. These all look happy and vibrant among my kale, chard, chives, strawberries, herbs, nasturtiums and marigolds.

Much happier than my poor tomato plants! Dear me, if I based my gardening experience on the joy of some of the trickier specimens, I’d feel so discouraged that I just might quit. Instead, the weeds provide wonderful greens for smoothies and salads, as well as “proof” that our tiny, unplanned yard can provide abudant produce. If I expand my “garden” outward to include nearby bike paths, I find Juneberry trees, more elderberry, giant dandelions, large burdock and cattails, which I have yet to try. I hear that cattails offer all parts as edibles during various points of the year, but still want some help identifying which parts to harvest when. Our landlord, who lives behind us, also offered his crabapple trees and cherry tree during harvest time. These produce much more than birds and the nearby humans can handle without canning, freezing or dehydrating. Supposedly the crabapples make an excellent cider, and I’m happy to experiment when the time comes.

The Wild Edibles Dinner featured a dessert made from Japanese Knotweed berries, which some of you may recognize as a primary ingredient in Resveratrol supplements. Indeed, David Wolfe has mentioned Japanese Knotweed as a major immune system support for people suffering from Lyme Disease, and I used these to help my ex-husband recover from his Advanced Stage Lyme. There’s a saying among herbalists that Nature provides whatever you need nearby, so I find it interesting that Japanese Knotweed has become a massively invasive species in Wisconsin, where Lyme Disease also runs rampant. I’ve heard the same thing about teasel root growing fast in Oregon and other areas with a LD issue. I don’t have LD, but I must say, that Japanese Knotweed crisp rocked! So much so that I’m going to call the folks trying to eradicate it from a nearby park to see if I can harvest the unsprayed berries.

I love how Nature seems to “know” exactly what issue someone has and synchronously provide just the plants necessary for healing. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I consider humanity to be in a crisis state right now. From government to corporate to environmental abuses to the restriction of all herbs in the EU, we need to wake up and shift! Planet Earth does not require humanity for her survival. In addition to taste and medicinal properties, I love the resilient and unstoppable qualities of weeds. We are what we eat, and we could do much worse than weeds. In fact, weeds balance disturbed or unhealthy ecosystems. Things like dandelion, comfrey and burdock grow extremely deep roots, drawing minerals up to renourish depleted soil. Weeds spring up when the Earth needs healing. By eating more weeds, we can become, on a cellular level, Earth healers. By eating wild things, we become wild, too — more easily able to free ourselves from outmoded societal conditioning that destroys communities and our sense of connection with each other and our environment.

Harvesting local foods frees us from dependence on oil and the transportation system used to bring us the produce we take for granted. It also frees us from having to pay for food. Although I have plenty of money to buy groceries, I recognize BigBanks, BigOil, BigAg and BigPharma as major culprits in all things wrong with our world right now. I would love to live completely outside the system, and I keep researching ways to increase my own independence (and interdependence with more preferable groups). In the meantime, collecting weeds, wild foraging for edibles and seeding easy-to-grow organic plants at home, brings me step-by-step closer to greater harmony with the Earth and my own Nature-loving soul. Learning how to survive on wild items also lets me relax about potential world food shortages caused by poor weather conditions, disasters or disruption of food transportation.

I’m nowhere near my final goals, but I begin each morning marveling at the abundance and beauty all around me. I find it fun. The spunky part of me who’s familiar with Codex Alimentarius and Agenda 21 also gets excited to think of myself like a weed. In a world where governments at best fail to protect their citizens and at worst are actively creating weather, environmental and pharmaceutical conditions to destroy, starve or poison large portions of the population, eating weeds and wild things is my way of celebrating strength and life. Just TRY to eradicate dandelions! Just try to get rid of wild violets and garlic mustard. Even with the most intense chemicals and poor conditions, new ones will no doubt pop up. I have lambsquarters growing in my patio cracks! Feeling that resilience and expansion in myself makes me giggle. I also feel deeply nourished and joyful.

If you decide to forage, I strongly suggest connecting with experienced people in your area. You’ll also want to make sure the no one sprays or pollutes the plants you’d like to eat, and identification does matter. You’ll want to learn the key differences between wild edibles and poisonous lookalikes. If in doubt, don’t eat it! Personally, I find the learning curve exciting. Yes, it takes up a lot of my current time and energy, but I consider the process both recreational and restorative. In a world of change, those who cling to the old may perish, but those who adapt, thrive. I intend to flourish, regardless of circumstances, and I feel ever so grateful for the challenges that brought me more in tune with Earth and some beautiful humans and animals on this planet.