Posts Tagged ‘Wild Edibles’

Garden Update: Wild Edibles and Spring Flowers

It felt so good to get out in the yard for an hour of work yesterday, before and after visiting with yet another friend harvesting our massive supply of miner’s lettuce. I cannot believe I’ve been futzing and fretting over my extremely poor luck at growing lettuce when we have such wild abundance. I might even call some farmers market vendors to see if they’d like to bring a few bags to market. This beautiful patch was hidden under a row cover, while silly me has been buying organic mixed greens on our trips to various co-ops and natural food stores:


Miner’s lettuce, also called “claytonia,” “winter purslane,” or “Indian lettuce,” loves, cool, moist weather. A “foodie” green and wild edible, this patch has reseeded itself each year after a few scattered seeds in 2014. Usually a spring crop, Continue reading

Sentient Weeds

They say a weed is any plant growing where you don’t want it to grow. Sometimes even pretty, edible, medicinal, and/or intentionally placed plants outgrow their initial welcome. Or they try to take over the entire yard. I thought I’d share part of an ongoing exchange with a local gardening friend of mine who just returned after a month vacation. She had asked about canning supplies, and I just had my very first canning experience this past weekend.

Me:I made Lavender-Infused Dandelion Preserves with birch sweetener. Um….yum! Unfortunately, it was so very tedious to remove the dandelion bracts that I didn’t get to double or triple the recipe as planned. I still wasn’t even done de-bracting my frozen flowers when [my canning partner] arrived, on a time schedule. Sooo… that will be something I make again, probably next Spring when the dandelion flowers are nice and plump. Might as well get some benefit from this crazy yard!

Please let me know if you need any herbs, either for cooking or for starts. That garden sage is going insane again — actually, both are, but I learned the pineapple sage is not perennial in our zone. I also need to make some starts very, very soon of the tree collards, which are only perennial in zone 9. Everything in the garden is going insane, and I started yet another raised bed for winter veggies. I think I might be as crazy as my plants. 🙂

Her: Oh my, my yard is sooooo overgrown! And you wrote about weeding. I’m starting to think of the plants as being sentient. So how do you resolve weeding with that?

Me: RE: sentient plants. Um, yeah. Today, I told my morning glories to “play nice with the herbs,” because they were twining themselves around the tarragon and lavender, as well as totally covering an evergreen. I cut them back, and on my way to the meeting was admiring just how gorgeous they looked. They must have been PO’d at me, because when I returned, they were all wilting in the heat. With all the mulch I have there, they never wilt, but today they required me hand carrying 10+ gallons of water around that side of the house, shimmying behind the fence and back and forth. Then they perked up, but I could almost hear them snickering, “That’s what you get for telling us how and where to grow.”

I did have amazing results asking the poison ivy to leave. It is completely gone now — as far as David, our next door neighbor (who is terribly allergic to poison ivy), and I can tell. No Round-Up. No digging. I just asked it to leave, and it was ALL over our front and Southwest yard. After I thanked it for protecting the property and told it, “I’ll take it from here,” we haven’t seen it since.

Another time, I thought of pulling out my lemongrass plant because it had gotten so huge and was blocking the bell pepper. A few minutes later, I went out to harvest something else, and that lemongrass plant drew blood! Those grass blades are actual blades, but I’ve never been cut before or since I told it to behave or I won’t even save a single root to overwinter indoors. It’s been on excellent behavior ever since.

So yeah, the weeds … I tell them not to grow in certain places and they can flourish in others. Sometimes that works better than others. Sometimes I just need to give warning and say, “Look, you’re out of here!”

LOL, I am a crazy plant lady.

[And yet … if communicating with our plants can save us from using Round-Up and other toxins, think of the implications for our world! Last night, I found two huge grasshoppers on the lemongrass. I swear they were playing coy with me. “Just eat the lemongrass, OK?” I said. “Stay away from my kale.” When I came out this morning, the lemongrass had been trimmed back a bit so my newly planted Alaskan peas have light, and the kale looked great. I’m not above blending up a nasty jalepeno-geranium-garlic-peppermint spray to keep bugs off my plants, but it’s far easier just to ask the bugs to go somewhere else. The grasshoppers with their big eyes seem to be more willing communicators than this Spring’s leafhoppers. Watch out, though, leafhoppers: I’ll be ready for you next year, and no, I don’t mean pesticides. 🙂 ]

Crime fighters try a new way to uproot thugs and punks — weed out the flower pickers

Where, oh, where is that pixie dust?!

We’re approaching a serious back-order situation. Fascists and Frankenfreaks are suffering from extreme pixie dust deficiency. That’s PDD to the CDC. I’m sure they’re already trying to genetically engineer pixie-dust-virus-meat-turdburgers, fortify high fructose Franken-corn-syrup, or perhaps even come out with a fabulous vaccine guaranteed to make you an Unseelie Court Fae if it doesn’t kill you first; however, whilst we wait with baited breath … the stanchest protectors of 3Dality need I.V. pixie dust.


I always say that if you want to find out what will liberate you, then look at what the control freaks persecute like Medieval Crusaders: industrial hemp, raw milk and other organic food co-ops, small organic farmers, the entire Bill of Rights and US Constitution, alternative currencies, front yard gardens, vitamins and natural supplements, sunshine (can you say “chemtrails,” toxic sunscreens, and a decades long propaganda campaign advising everyone to avoid the natural way to make your own Vitamin D, which, along with hemp oil has been shown to prevent and cure the big C) … not to mention truth seekers (“the truth shall set you free”), whistleblowers (again, “the truth shall set you free”), alternative energy, “health food junkies” (i.e., people who care about eating organic, non-GMO, non-irradiated, pesticide-free real food), vaccine avoiders, peaceniks, homeschoolers, and visionaries, also known as “crazy dreamers,” “dangerous extremists” or “conspiracy theorists” working hard to beautify and reclaim a toxic, dying, backwards world.

In the past two weeks, we’ve had not only a secret flower planter threatened with arrest if he doesn’t stop planting flowers, but now we’ve got a dandelion picking 75-year-old given a ticket and told that picking dandelions is “unsustainable.”

Oh. My. Goddess.

Clearly Karen Vaughan, spokeswoman for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, hasn’t seen our yard. I have dandelions growing through two layers of black plastic garbage bags covered by mulch plus landscape cloth and several more inches of wood mulch. Um, dandelions are pretty resilient. Even if this violent thug tried to uproot the dandelions in order to make some medicinal tea/coffee substitute, if he missed even the teeniest, tiniest fragment of a root in the ground, a new dandelion would spring from that little underground root.

Urban Food Forests and free community gardens would liberate people like few other things. Wild food foraging — gathering weeds and otherwise undervalued or despised edibles — is one of the most sustainable things anyone can do, provided they know what they’re gathering. Seriously. You want to talk about sustainable? Try eliminating the middle man and the need for fussy gardens. Forget monocrops and bee killing BigAg; try consuming and celebrating weeds instead of blasting them with toxic chemicals that pollute our air, water, land and ecosystems. Most importantly, Urban Food Forests can remind communities just how abundantly Nature provides for all of us. When people begin to develop abundance consciousness instead of poverty consciousness, and when people become what they eat — “wild things” — the control freaks will find themselves overrun by Natural Order.

Go ahead, control freaks, just try to go totalitarian on a dandelion. Or a dandelion picker. Payback’s a b!tch and poetic justice makes the faeries and freedom lovers giggle.

Rant nearing completion:

This has got to be one of the more ridiculous stories I’ve read lately … and that’s saying something within a week of a California man facing 13 years in prison for writing messages like “No Thanks, Big Banks” in chalk (chalk!!) on sidewalks in front of the money laundering, rate rigging, shady fee charging, illegally foreclosing, and ponzi scheming “too big to fail, too big to jail” Bank of America.

I can only hope we will continue to see signs of sanity in US Courts, as in the Vernon Hershberger jury’s activism, the acquittal of the chalk protestor, and the backing down of Washington Metro Transit’s call for the arrest of the no longer secret guerrilla gardener. Background of today’s rant below:

Crime fighters try a new way to uproot thugs and punks — weed out the flower pickers

Retiree plucks dandelions for meals — instead, preserve cop serves him a $75 ticket

Chicago Tribune, June 28, 2013, by John Kass

“With so much crime in the Chicago area, from murderous gangbangers to those thug mobs and everything in between, it’s nice to know that law enforcement finally cracked down on Public Enemy No. 1:

“He’s John Taris, 75, retired tailor and notorious dandelion picker.

“Now this alleged criminal is facing a $75 fine for the terrible crime of picking a weed that most Chicagoans hate.

“A few weeks ago he was hunted down by a Cook County Forest Preserve cop and caught red-handed in possession of dandelion greens. For an old man barely making it on Social Security, finding $75 to pay the ticket will be tough.

“‘They make me a criminal for picking dandelions in Chicago,” Taris told me the other day. “And all I wanted was something to eat.’ ….”

Read the rest of the story here and then do yourself a favor and learn what weeds are safely growing in your own yard. Grab a clue from the Fascist laser pointing at wild food foraging as yet another deviant behavior crying out for suppression. You are what you eat. Be wild!

Wild Edibles vs. Organic Gardening

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a daily lesson gleaned from our extensive yard and my intensive gardens, namely, that wild edibles are infinitely easier and more naturally prolific than fussy annuals or even some intentionally planted perennial vegetables. I have gathered bags and bags of dandelion greens this Spring, given them away to friends, blended them into smoothies, happily fed guests and ourselves on Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry, sauteed them, and even wrapped them around slices of raw Manchego.

I’ve made gorgeous salads of wild violets, and yesterday, I harvested a huge bag of lambsquarters and garlic mustard for an almond butter veggie curry dish served over millet. (Sorry, no recipe for that one … it’s basically just blended garlic mustard and lambsquarters with water, then two packets of frozen organic veggies mixed with the green water, almond butter, some red curry paste, homegrown dehydrated tomatoes, and fresh garlic. I toasted the millet in coconut oil for a few minutes before boiling it.) In 2012, stinging nettles were “my best crop,” and this year I even purchased some nettle plants from a local farmer. I put them in crates, because I feel bad introducing another “weed” to this already very wild yard:

Nettles in Crates

Nettles in Crates

Nettles in their prized spot in the shady Madison garden

Nettles in their prized spot in the shady Madison garden

The point is, we have been enjoying some prolific harvests (er, weeds) for months now, even though gardening season has only just begun. By leaving a portion of our yard wild, we also seem to have kept the rabbits less interested in our garden. Wish I could say the same thing for leaf hoppers: those things are voracious! They amplify the contrast between the wild edibles and organic gardening, although I visited an Amish friend the other day and was heartened to see her dwarf kale covered in Diatomaceous Earth just like mine below:

Diatomaceous Earth on tomato, dwarf Siberian kale, a very tiny Swiss chard, and oregano

Diatomaceous Earth on tomato, dwarf Siberian kale, a very tiny Swiss chard, and oregano

Note the heavy handed powder necessary to keep these plants somewhat uneaten. Note the heavy mulch necessary to keep the soil from drying out too fast and becoming overrun with never-ending dandelion fuzz. And now take a look at this lush spread of lambsquarters, first year garlic mustard (the second year’s the one you really want to tug out right away), dandelion greens, and soon-to-be-flowering edible daisies:

Wild Edibles

Our gnomes like this arrangement, too:

Wild Edibles and Gnomes

That photo actually includes three gnomes, but one is hiding behind the ash stump that now believes it’s 100 ash trees! We’ll need to trim it back, but faeries do enjoy the ash, even more than Stars and Moon Gazing Balls … although, apparently, they are quite pleased with the faery bling David and I procured on Tuesday. (I’ll save the rest of that for another post.)

Lambsquarters are quite pretty and pack a nutritional wallop:


Some people purposely plant these in their gardens. I did when we lived in Madison, but then I learned that lambsquarters grow pretty much everywhere. No need to plant! We have them in several pockets around our yard. High in calcium, copper and iron, superfood lambsquarters have 11 days worth of vitamin K in one cup! They are also very high in oxalic acid, so they require cooking. I learned that the hard way in Madison. I spent a few weeks blending them into fresh green smoothies and wound up passing a kidney stone one night. Holy Mother of God and Nature … never again!

I actually hadn’t eaten lambsquarters again until last night. Cooking them does break down the oxalic acid and release the nutrients. I’m not sure how to describe the taste — kind of like an earthy spinach or chard? They enrich everything you add them to, just please do remember to cook those guys.

One of our local friends recently suggested a wild foraging book called Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market, with 88 Recipes. I knew there was something else I wanted to check for at the library! Anyway, you can find lots of recipes online, but according to our friend, this book’s a keeper.

According to my back, the Faery Realm, and my would-be Lazy Gardener Self, wild edibles are also keepers — at least in the backyard. Out front, I pretend to exert at least a little influence with loads and loads of mulch and a few carefully nurtured herbs. I dream of the day when they, too, explore their invasive natures and take more active participation in the Mad Scientist’s Garden. Until then, my bags of greens keep me feeling it’s all worthwhile, even if I gather four to five times more wild greens than collards and kale. 😉

Sprouting, Growing, Blooming, Fruiting: My Garden in Photos

My garden claims that I did not give an accurate representation of it last time, because I focused too much on the work and not enough on the abundant growth. I’m making up for that insult today, in part by admitting that I not only talk to my plants and listen to them, but also … on demand … even sing to them. Oh, yes, they like that, and they like sharing their beauty with strangers. 🙂

Yesterday, we had some new friends over to our home and yard — some gardening and permaculture folks who helped us identify some of the volunteer plants we didn’t know whether to pull or celebrate. It turns out that my magical calling of plants continues! We now have a grape vine located in precisely the spot I asked it to appear, and a couple days ago, I noticed volunteer German chamomile had appeared the day after my request for more than my two starts from Whole Foods. We also have some kind of invasive rose species, so I need to tweak my asking and make it more specific. Oops! Not just any roses! I would please like “Wine and Roses” as well as “Faery Roses.” We’ll see how that goes.

I also had a funny indoor gardening experience the other night. I had been chanting to Krishna Das’ “Pilgrim Heart” when my ivy on a cherub pedestal suddenly requested that I sing to it. Well, request is a polite term. Ivy’s kind of assertive. It kept reaching out its tendrils and catching my flowy shirt until I finally sang a horridly off-key rendition of “The Holly and the Ivy,’ in honor of the fact that some holly trees apparently want to join the fun outside. Well! The ivy cutting in our downstairs bathroom, a cutting that has refused to grow roots for months, materialized some two inch long roots the very next day! Holly and ivy like to hang out together — masculine and feminine, the yin and the yang. I have my magick wand (“Freya’s Dawn,” who is made from a holly branch wrapped in silver cord with a prehnite tip) hidden in plain view on top of the bookcase/altar.

June 1 Ivy

Yesterday marked a day of immense gratitude for our yard in all its wild, unruly fertility. Not only did I serve our guests the Dandelion Goji Red Lentil Curry (dandelions and cilantro courtesy of our yard and garden), but I also spontaneously gathered ingredients for a wild and herb salad — lambsquarters, wild violets, watercress, oregano, chives, green onion, arugula, and sorrel — as well as a delicious after dinner mint tea made from lemon balm, peppermint and chocolate mint. Our friends totally “got” what I’ve been doing with the yard and were intrigued by all the wood mulch and various mad scientist gardener experiments. I swear the yard beamed with pride to hear all the admiration heaped upon it by new visitors. After this morning’s early rain, the yard and garden asked me to take photos. They’ve been so good about providing me with food and pretty delights that I’ve obliged. Here are today’s images:

June 1 Rhododendrons

Above you can see the rhododendron that bloomed on my birthday, just like all our rhododendrons did when I was a child growing up on Forrest Avenue! Indeed, this was the first plant I called to our home. I had wished for a rhododendron, and our landlord planted it in October right before we brought our first load here.

June 1 Sage

The photo doesn’t do this garden sage justice. This was the first plant I planted here, also in October, because it had outgrown its pot. We didn’t think it would survive the Winter, but this week it erupted in glorious purple blooms. Truth be told, the sage requested the photo presentation and all the rest of the plants just followed suit. 😉

First bloom of yarrow

First bloom of yarrow

Intentionally planted German chamomile in the herb garden

Intentionally planted German chamomile in the herb garden

Volunteer chamomile that answered my call the next morning

Volunteer chamomile that answered my call the next morning

Hyssop just starting to grow stronger

Hyssop just starting to grow stronger

Dwarf Jewel Nasturtium that fought its way through the mulch after I had given up on it

Dwarf Jewel Nasturtium that fought its way through the mulch after I had given up on it

Lemon Queen Sunflowers sprouted last night in the flower bed out front.

Lemon Queen Sunflowers sprouted last night in the flower bed out front.

Volunteer ferns (also requested) on the North side of the house

Volunteer ferns (also requested) on the North side of the house

Kale, parsley, Turkish rocket (a perennial), oregano, and Ruby Red Chard, zinnia and calendula sprouts in one of the InstaBeds.

Kale, parsley, Turkish rocket (a perennial), oregano, and Ruby Red Chard, zinnia and calendula sprouts in one of the InstaBeds.

Tree collards (another perennial), tomato, two kinds of basil, arugula and peppermint in another InstaBed (with compost bin in back)

Tree collards (another perennial), tomato, two kinds of basil, arugula and peppermint in another InstaBed (with compost bin in back)

Sea kale (another perennial) finally adapting to the raised bed setting

Sea kale (another perennial) finally adapting to the raised bed setting

Watercress and chives going gangbusters!

Watercress and chives going gangbusters!

Volunteer grape vine right behind the garden, perfect for trellising

Volunteer grape vine right behind the garden, perfect for trellising

Early Girl tomatoes already on the vine

Early Girl tomatoes already on the vine

The plants are much happier with this post, but if you want to see all the nearly backbreaking labor of love involved in taming this completely wild yard into something beautiful, productive and harmonious, you can click on “Mad Scientist Gardening” and “Yes, We Have a Cash Crop! And Other Blessings in Disguise.” Oh, those plants! They really do have character, preferences and not a little vanity. Blessings for your weekend … I’m off to procure some nettle plants from “Farmer Jon.” 😉

Happy Beltane Eve!

Today I had one of those afternoons that reminds me of being a little girl. I spent time with my favorite 82-year-old friend in Goshen at her lovely lakefront home. Before heading over there, I had a real flashback to childhood May Day celebrations when, for some reason, I always felt compelled to gather violets into old strawberry baskets handwoven and tied with ribbons, delivering these in the predawn hours on neighbors’ porches. This afternoon, I gathered a salad full of wild violet leaves and flowers for David and me, but then picked another bag to gift to my friend. This extra bag of edible flowers and nature’s tender “lettuce” was an even bigger hit than her requested bag of dandelion greens!


Salad with violets

Unbeknownst to me as a little girl, May Day represents a celebration of flowers and ribbons, and Beltane’s fire festival honors the Earth in preparation for an abundant growing season. Looking out on our wild new yard today, I saw a meadow in full bloom with a harvest I didn’t plant. When we lived in Madison, we had a couple wild violet plants that barely flowered yet still allowed for occasional salad touches. We had both longed for more violets than we knew what to do with. Well! Ask and you shall receive. The below photo shows only a tiny portion of the violets currently dancing their purple and white flowers around our yard:

Wild violets in our yard

To my surprise, we also have the tulips I mentally requested in the dead of winter:


Squirrels or someone with a quirky sense of natural style planted tulips and daffodils in the strangest places around our property. I’ve enjoyed watching them burst into color along with the dandelions, violets and creeping Charlie. Speaking of plants responding to my mental requests, today, my 82-year-old friend gave me three blackberry canes to replant in our yard. That request only just went out! We now have blackberries working double duty as fruit bearers and bramble discouragement to people cutting through our yard. Our landlord is working on the back fence for squash and melons as I type, and tomorrow we will actually put soil into the raised beds.

This yard will take some major work to turn into the wild, permaculture, medicinal, 4-season garden, faery haven in my mind. I have spent weeks hauling mulch from huge piles into foot deep beds and hugelkultur in various spots across the yard. Mulch is freakin’ heavy!!!! This weekend, I had just begun to wonder if I am not completely off my rocker to have taken on such an ambitious project, but the colorful bursts of flowers and huge harvests of free greens have changed my tune. I remembered that I made a pact with the Spirits of the Land to honor this forgotten piece of property and love it into a productive, beautiful, healing relationship with humans. I can feel the faeries smiling. Our yard is wild, but happy right now. And so am I.

Beltane Blessings and Happy May Day!

Salad with flowers

Wild Foraging: What’s Already Happening in Nature?

David put together this great resource for Transition Goshen’s “Open Space” Meeting, and we both thought some of my readers might find the information interesting and helpful as well.

Topic: What’s already happening in nature?

foraging & wild edibles
leaf mulch
minimum effort and resources
less control over nature

Lawn Totalitarian Rule

Discussion notes:

Beneficial plants and “weeds”

Right this very moment we are surrounded by abundant food, healing herbs, and fertilizer – if only we had the eyes to see them not as “weeds” and understand how to use them properly! – that we routinely try to rid from our gardens and yards. It somehow all seems very resource-intensive, unnecessary, and backwards.

This discussion centered around embracing beneficial plants and resources/processes already naturally occurring in our yards, gardens, and neighborhoods that require little or no effort to grow or harvest while providing great potential benefit.

Why do we work so hard to eradicate so many established, resilient edible & beneficial “weeds” from our gardens and yards in order to painstakingly cultivate/propagate a very narrow variety of finicky “acceptable” plants of equal or lesser nutritive value which requires tremendous resources from us (time & effort) and the earth (additional water & higher quality soil – likely sourced off-site)?

And, why do we spend a great deal of time and effort every fall to rid our lawns of leaves that are nutrient dense and can easily be used to enrich our gardens and lawns?

Forget manna from heaven – let’s learn to properly use these bountiful natural resources that already surround us!

Foraging/Wild Edibles

As there are frequently “look-alike” plants that could potentially be harmful, it would be wise and prudent to learn to forage and identify wild edibles from an expert to raise our awareness and confidence levels.

Local Expert Foraging & Wild Edible Resources:
Within our community it was suggested that Paul Steury would be a great resource. We will coordinate with Paul to request that he create a group event.

Elkhart County Parks is offering the following wild edibles tasting and hike:

“Wild Edibles”

Spring brings a bounty of nature’s best succulent wild edibles. Fried dandelions, wild leek, stinging nettle soup, cattail muffins with mint and sassafras tea to name a few. Please join us as we sample some of nature’s best recipes. Your taste buds will thank you! A wild edibles hike will complete our program so dress appropriately.

Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Cost: $4/person or $10/family
Preregister by: Thursday, April 25
Call (574) 535-6458
Location: Black Maple Shelter, Ox Bow County Park
(from the Elkhart County Parks Events Calendar at

Regional Expert Foraging & Wild Edible Resources:
For regional experts, if there is adequate interest we could explore what would be required (cost, minimum number of registered participants) to have Chicago-based urban foraging expert Nance Klehm lead an urban foraging hike or have Wisconsin-based “Wild Eats” founders Linda Conroy and “Little John” Holzwart prepare a group wild food dining experience.

Nance Klehm information:
“Nance Klehm is a steward of the earth. She is an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permacultural grower, as well as an in demand consultant, speaker, and teacher. She is respected internationally for her work on land politics and growing for fertility.”

“She is the bioinstigator-in-residence at the Center for Land Interpretation’s off-the-grid site in the desert outside of Wendover, Utah. Since 2007, Nance has worked with post-consumer materials (including solid and liquid human waste, grey water from sinks and showers, food, yard waste, manure, and cardboard) and transformed these materials into biologically rich soil (using decomposition, filtering, and fermentation). The resulting waste-sponge soil systems sustain a habitat of edible and medicinal plants, digestion of soil salinity, and the capturing, storing and use of precipitation.”

“She lives and grows in the middle of Little Village, a densely packed, diverse urban neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. Her house and land are daily practice in permaculture and urban living. She has worked with chickens, quails, rabbits, fish, and dairy animals. Nance is bilingual in Spanish and English, understands basic French, is a canner, a preserver, practices yoga and meditation, has traveled the world, and can be totally hilarious.”

Utne Reader article:

Nance Klehm on Facebook:

Nance Klehm videos:

Urbanforaging with Weedeater Nance Klehm:

Early Spring Forage w/ Nance Klehm:

A visit to the Simparch Clean Livin’ project at CLUI w/ Nance Klehm:

Linda Conroy information:

“Linda Conroy is a bioregional, wise woman herbalist, educator, wildcrafter, permaculturist, and an advocate for women’s health.”

“She is the proprietress of Moonwise Herbs and the founder of Wild Eats: a movement to encourage people and communities to incorporate whole and wild food into their daily lives. She is passionate about women’s health and has been working with women for over 20 years in a wide variety of settings.”

“Linda is a student of nonviolent communication and she has a masters degree in Social Work as well as Law and Social Policy. Linda has been offering hands on herbal programs and food education classes for well over a decade. She has completed two herbal apprenticeship programs, one of which was with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center and she has a certificate in Permaculture Design. Linda is a curious woman whose primary teachers are the plants; they never cease to instill a sense of awe and amazement.”

Additional Linda Conroy resources:
Linda Conroy and “Little John” Holzwart’s “Wild Eats” dinnners:

Audio interview with Linda (30 minutes):

Linda’s Moonwise Herbs page on Facebook:

Leaf Mulch & Wild Edibles resources:

Leaf Mulch information:

At the very least, mulch your leaves into your lawn rather than raking them to the curb to have the city dispose of them for you. Better yet, save your shredded leaves to use as mulch in your garden the next season. I own an electric mulching leaf vacuum as well as a mulching mower (which can be used with the bag to catch the mulched leaves to save for next season’s garden or without the bag to put the shredded leaves on your lawn) that I would be happy to lend anyone in the fall.

(the following information is from the article “Using Leaves for Composting”:

“The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus. Pound for pound, the leaves of most trees contain twice as many minerals as manure. For example, the mineral content of a sugar maple leaf is over five percent, while even common pine needles have 2.5 percent of their weight in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, plus other trace elements.”

“Since most trees are deep-rooted, they absorb minerals from deep in the soil and a good portion of these minerals go into the leaves. See the accompanying chart for an analysis of the nutrient elements in fallen leaves.”

“Actually, these multi-colored gifts from above are most valuable for the large amounts of fibrous organic matter they supply. Their humus-building qualities mean improved structure for all soil types. They aerate heavy clay soils, prevent sandy soils from drying out too fast, soak up rain and check evaporation.”

“The ability of leaf mold to retain moisture is almost miraculous. Subsoil can hold a mere 20 percent of its weight; good, rich topsoil will hold 60 percent, but leaf mold can retain 300 to 500 percent of its weight in water.”

“Freshly fallen leaves pass through several stages from surface litter to well-decomposed humus partly mixed with mineral soil. Leaf mold from deciduous trees is somewhat richer in such mineral foods as potash and phosphorus than that from conifers. The nitrogen content varies from .2 to 5 percent.”

Additional Foraging and Wild Edibles Resources:

Wild Edibles Videos:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Dandelion:

Lambsquarter: Christopher Nyerges Class:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens : Wild Violet:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Miner’s Lettuce:

Sergei Boutenko – Wild Edibles: Daisies:

Sergei Boutenko – Wild Edible Stinging Nettles:

David Wolfe – How to Eat Stinging Nettles:

Sergei Boutenko – How To Eat Wild Grasses: Wheat Grass:

Purslane – a Super Green for Super Nutrition:

Eat The Weeds: Episode 91: Purslane:

EatTheWeeds: Episode 12: Chickweed, Stellaria:

Edible Weed Chickweed anti-inflammatory blood purifier:

EatTheWeeds: Episode 13: Plantagos, Plantains:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Fool’s Onion:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Wild Strawberry:

Sergei Boutenko – Purple thistle or prickly lettuce:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: The Cattail:

Edible weeds in my garden:

Urban Homesteading and Faery Gardening

For many of us, this last third of 2012 marks a change in direction, and for some, the coming together of long held and carefully nurtured dreams.

In keeping with the change in seasons, David and I have some big shifts in store. He has accepted American Airlines’ “Early Out” package, and we will soon relocate to Goshen, Indiana — the adorable, artsy, eco-friendly, service-oriented town where his parents live. They’re both in their eighties, and we all realized that we could significantly improve their quality of life (and ours) by “right-sizing” and moving within walking distance of them.

This past week, we picked up keys to our new little eco-haven. It’s actually a new/old eco-haven — an older property taken down to the studs and refurbished with energy efficiency in mind. We’ve been given carte blanche to turn the wild yard into a permaculture and gardening spot with beauty, sustainability and possibly even our own backyard labyrinth. Our front porch can double as a coldframe/winter cold crop greenhouse, and we’ve got expansive Southern windows with deep sills for my indoor herb garden. Those who know how much David and I love wild food foraging and caring for the Earth will realize what a dream come true this living arrangement is — particularly since it involved zero looking on our part. The land and home synchronously came to us as a near exact match to the wish-list on my iPhone.

Our lease in Madison ends on November 30, and we have a two month overlap of leases for our relocation. We do intend to continue offering Raph events in the Dousman area; however, after this month, those Dousman events will not happen again until 2013. Depending on David’s new work schedule, the Dousman events will probably occur bi-monthly or quarterly. The Madison events have had such inconsistent turnout that we will focus on Dousman as our WI locale for Raph events, although we do plan to visit friends and family in Madison from time to time. We’ve also both got many connections in the Chicago area, so Chicago events may begin happening in 2013. Stay tuned on that …

I’m just so excited about the possibilities! Even though we have much more room at this new spot, I intend to utilize all I’ve learned about gardening “up” and growing in small spaces. That way we can maximize yield. We’ll also be planting tons of medicinal wildflowers and some fruit trees and bushes, combining beauty with powerful productivity. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the magickal properties of plants and will incorporate some faery attracting and protective non-edibles around entrances and the perimeter. We already have loads and loads of wild violets and, as shown above, wild petunias that self-seeded in the formerly overgrown yard. Not much grass in sight: our ground cover includes purslane, dandelion greens, chicory and plantain. Salad right out the door! Even more than the free, no work greens, we’re excited about becoming stewards of this land — loving it and working with it to express Earth’s bounty.

As 2012 continues to accelerate, I know many of you also face relocation, career and/or significant relationship changes. Please know that you are not alone in this process! I have clients all over the world, and so many people find their lives imminently unrecognizable. Change seems like the tall order of the day. Whatever your own deepest longings, visualize, imagine and intend well: wonderful changes await those who invite and receive them.


Raw Vegan Mexican and Birthday Celebrations

Mmmmhmmmm, I have been quite the kitchen witch lately, prepping all manner of elaborate raw food feasts. I’m not sure what’s gotten into the Lazy part of my Raw Foodist nature. Actually, this feast only took two hours total to prep, not counting passive dehydrator time for the tortillas. Just thought I’d share some of the goodies I made, so David and I could have a pre-birthday dinner for him after my Vision and “Visions” class this past Sunday.

On the menu: Spinach Flax tortillas from Cafe Gratitude‘s book, “I Am Grateful.” Yum! Only 4 ingredients (loads of spinach, a tablespoon of flax and lemon juice and some sea salt). They’re kind of delicate on the dehydrator screens, but I love their flavor. I used these to hold some walnut-pumpkin seed taco “meat,” topped with tomatillo-chia seed salsa, homemade guacamole, and a simple purple cabbage slaw made with apple cider vinegar and a hint of birch sweetener. The chia seeds were an afterthought, since those tomatillos got extra juicy. Too much liquid and delicate tortillas are a no-no. I learned about adding chia seeds to salsa from Jerri Hastey of Santa Rosa’s “Seed Restaurant.” Then I made a goji berry-olive oil-balsamic vinegar dressing to top a side salad of spring greens.

We got two meals from this prep, but here are photos from the first night:

Mexican Tacos and Cabbage Slaw

Cabbage Slaw with ACV and Birch Sweetener

Spring Greens with Goji Balsamic Dressing

I also made a simple walnut-date-raw cacao cake for David last night (on his actual birthday). I think that recipe originally came from my dear friend Tania Marie: 1 cup walnuts; 1 cup dates; 2 TBSP raw cacao; process together in a food processor. I usually make some sort of icing, but last night we opted just for the cake. I had soaked and dehydrated walnuts last week, which made it extra creamy and delicious.

The sweet treats didn’t stop with the cake, though. Our friend Ingrid makes THE best raw granola on the planet. When we headed in for chiropractic appointments yesterday a.m., Dr. Ingrid gave David a jar of her tasty “Namaste Granola” to go along with a case of coconut water from Dr. Brian:

Namaste Granola

And truth be told, we’re just getting started. With David’s birthday on the 7th and mine on the 22nd, we’ve got two weeks of yumminess planned. This Friday, we’ll be enjoying some homemade chocolate pie by our Raw Mama friend Sarah. Then we’ve got a (cooked) Wild Edibles Gourmet Dinner at the Wildwood Institute on May 19th and a road trip on my birthday that involves at least one stop at our friends’ Danny and Kathy’s Borrowed Earth Cafe. So grateful for sweet friends, lots of love, Mother Earth and her yummy foods!

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.