Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, September 28th— is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms. After midnight, registration will be closed for the season.
If you want to learn the skills involved in safely and successfully harvesting wild mushrooms with confidence, Foraging Wild Mushrooms can help you achieve that goal.
Now on to this week’s brand new video — a video in which we take a look at the discrepancies involved in classifying nature.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that things in nature don’t always fit so neatly into human-constructed categories.
Take the Freckled Dapperling, for instance.
The Freckled Dapperling is a wild mushroom that grows on plant debris during the autumn season. Some sources claim that the Freckled Dapperling is edible; others state that it’s inedible; and plenty of other sources claim that it’s poisonous.
Needless to say, the Freckled Dapperling is a mushroom that’s certainly worthy of our attention, and in the following video, I do my best to answer some very important questions about this fascinating fungus.
An autumn mushroom that you may see over the next few weeks is the Parasol Mushroom. Edible, delicious, and easily spotted in the woods, the Parasol Mushroom is a favorite amongst many foragers for its nutty smell and taste.
The Parasol Mushroom, however, is not the easiest mushroom to positively identify because it shares similar features with several other species — some of which are toxic. Many field guides and online articles fail to include a sufficient number of images and offer little help in identifying the Parasol Mushroom. Such lack of detail can leave readers with more questions than answers, and ultimately with no Parasol Mushrooms for dinner!
To address this issue and to assist with the identification process, I created an extremely detailed video outlining all the important pieces of information that any forager needs to know in order to safely and confidently harvest the Parasol Mushroom for the table. This video is one of over 75 exclusive videos featured in Foraging Wild Mushrooms — a four-season online course designed to help you confidently and successfully forage wild mushrooms.
Registration for Foraging Wild Mushrooms is open until Monday, September 28th at midnight. After September 28th, registration will be closed.
If you’ve ever considered harvesting wild mushrooms but didn’t know where to start, or where to go, or how to discern between edible and poisonous species, Foraging Wild Mushrooms will equip you with the skills necessary to ensure that your harvests are safe and successful.
A portion of all proceeds derived from course sales will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy — a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to protect and restore exceptional places and forests for the benefit of present and future generations.
Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!
A former roommate once picked on me because I saved the crumbs from the bottom of cracker, chip, and pretzel bags. A few years later, he admitted he was rather impressed with all the different uses I found for them, from incorporating them into quiche crusts and coating fish, to topping casseroles and mixing them into meatballs. So it is not surprising that I am often astounded by the bags of trash that get brought to the curb after my neighbors host summer barbecues. I can’t help but wonder: how much of my neighbors’ food waste could be used for something else?
One of the great pleasures of summer is fresh corn on the cob, and one of my least favorite things is the silk that often interferes with that pleasure. But these silky strands can be dried and used as a tea. Corn silk was used…
I love weeds. There, I said it. Don’t worry, I do pull them (there’s a reason why they’re called weeds, after all), but I am much more likely to make a tincture or a salve or something good (yes, good) to eat than to discard them completely.
After all, weeds were really the first herbs. Emerson said “weeds are but an unloved flower.” They have also been called a plant out of place. Consider a field of commercial dandelions with a single forlorn rose bush growing in the middle. Now which one is the weed?
Weeds tell wonderful stories, and as we learn them, they take us on a journey to discover where they came from and how they came to be who they are today.
For example, there’s the common broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). Broadleaf plantain is everywhere, which is a good thing for…
Plant Profile Family: Tropaeolaceae Scientific name: Tropaeolum majus Common names: nasturtium, Indian cress, trophy cress, trophywort Native Habitat: Peru, parts of South America Plant Type: Annual Growth Habit: Dwarf bushy cultivars grow from 8 to 18 inches in height, while the climbers can easily reach 6 to 10 feet, or more. Hardiness: Hardy in frost-free locations Light: Best in full sun; can tolerate a few hours of shade, which produces more leaves with fewer flowers Water: Moist but not wet; will tolerate some drought Soil: Friable and porous garden loam, well-drained soil; does well in containers Propagation
The Herb Society of America’s Herb of the Month for August is the makrut lime, Citrus hystrix, a member of the Rutaceae family. This lime is also known as kaffir lime or Thai lime, and also wild lime. You may have spotted it in a produce market or Asian supermarket and wondered what makes it different from an ordinary lime. It certainly looks different, in that it has a gnarly, bumpy skin. The very aromatic leaves are different, too, because they look as though they are two leaves attached to each other. The juice is sour and bitter, and so is not usually used in cooking because it can overwhelm other flavors.
This lime has been widely grown in Asia for so long that it has become naturalized in many countries. Therefore, no one is certain of its origin. It is a staple ingredient in Thai…
Swampy wetlands can be unforgiving places during the summer months. The vegetation is thick, the mosquitoes are hungry, and the lack of tree cover forbids any kind of refuge from the mid-day sun.
Strange as it may seem, I still find myself drawn to these soggy habitats in search of organisms that are not commonly encountered elsewhere. Wet feet and insect bites are small prices to pay in exchange for opportunities to observe and learn new species.
During a recent trip to one of these remote wetlands in western Pennsylvania, I experienced quite a spectacle: the flowers of swamp rose; the immature fruits of winterberry; and the thread-like stems of dodder intimately engaging with every herbaceous plant in sight.
Amongst this activity, I couldn’t help but notice a shrubby plant inhabiting the margins. Insects were crawling up and down its branches and birds were singing in its canopy, but I knew that any physical contact between the plant and my skin could result in serious consequences.
This plant, which is known as poison sumac, can lead to painful rashes in over 85% of humans. Susceptible individuals experience symptoms similar to (and reportedly worse than) the reactions caused by poison ivy.
Instead of avoiding the plant, I decided to film a video in which I discuss not only the unique ability of poison sumac to cause skin irritations in humans, but also its ecological value in supporting the health of other organisms.
I was a recent guest on the Wild Fed Podcast hosted by Daniel Vitalis. We covered lots of topics in this interview including plant and fungal interactions, the sustainability of gathering food from the land, the importance of learning non-edible species, and lots more. You can listen to the conversation here.
Speaking of plant and fungal interactions, did you know that wild blueberries depend on fungi for sustenance? Without these inter-kingdom relationships, far fewer blueberry shrubs would probably exist. Check out a recent Instagram post to learn more.
That’s the promise I made at the start of the season. It will be a daily ritual, a practice to keep me in tune with the growth and health of the garden, and a sure way not to miss a bit of garden gossip. Like a bustling city full of honking horns, buses whizzing by, and street conversations half-heard, there is endless activity to observe. Cucumber beetles rapidly working to destroy the cucumber crop. Birds ravishing the cherry tree singing loudly to their friends to join in on the feast. Earthworms patiently turning the soil underfoot. Never a dull moment, but you need to go to the garden every day to keep up.
That has been my biggest lesson gardening this year. If you’re not there to enjoy the first ripe strawberries, the squirrels will be happy to take on that…
While commonly called anise hyssop, the odor is more similar to French tarragon, though sweeter, with a hint of basil. The foliage and flowers taste similar to the aroma—sweet, with the licorice of tarragon and basil—and just a bit floral.
All of the thirty or so Agastache species are good for honey production and make great ornamental perennials. The flowering plants go well with the silver-leaved species of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum), which flower about the same time in the July garden and also provide good bee forage. The young, broad, dark green leaves of A. foeniculum, tinged purple in cool weather, are attractive with spring bulbs such as yellow daffodils.
Agastache species do not have GRAS status, even though the leaves of many species have been used for centuries as a substitute for French tarragon, infused in syrups…
(Blogmaster’s note: With Monarda currently in its full glory here in zone 7, we’re posting this recipe so you can take advantage of its unique flavors while it’s still in bloom. Serve these tasty treats at your next summer celebration!)
Monarda (commonly called bee balm or bergamot) is a native American herb named after a Spanish physician and botanist, N. Monardez, of Seville. Its unusual and ornamental flowers possess a distinctly architectural character with their rather bristly, shaggy-headed colorful appearance. All species attract bees and are good honey plants. Right now, my stands of the various bee balms are abuzz with activity from dawn until dusk. The twelve species of Monarda, all native to North America, offer a wide assortment of flavors and fragrances—from lemon to thyme to pungent oregano to tealike and rose—produced on annual or perennial plants. So sniff and…