I am writing this on the evening of the full harvest moon—it is shining bright in the night sky just over the treetops. We are also celebrating the Autumnal Equinox. I know that fall is here by the feeling in the air—cooler nights—and needing to grab that extra blanket; the smells are different—moist, earthy, and leafy; the departure of the hummingbirds since the jewelweed blooms are fading; the slowing down of plant growth in the garden and the ripening of others—herbs are maturing, flowers are showing off their last hurrahs, and many plants are producing seeds. It is time for gathering the bounty and celebrating the harvest!
I am simply delighted to share some news with you. Last harvest season, I made three educational videos featuring “Gathering and Preserving the Herbal Bounty” for members of The Herb Society of America.
Since moving to our new homestead a few years ago, I’ve been working to build a local material medica–that is, learning about all of the medicinal plants, herbs, and trees here on our 5-acre property. This also, of course, means growing a lot of my own herbs but also learning everything I can about the uses of the plants/trees already present on the land. This post is a follow-up to my Spruce post from a little while ago to share some primary ways of working with spruce: A Spruce Resin Salve (also known as a Spruce Gum and Spruce Resin salve) with bonus fire-starters from the process!
Many conifers produce a tarry, sticky resin or sap that has a range of uses: as a binding agent or glue, as a medicine, as gum you can chew, as incense, as a fire-starting tool, as a waterproofing agent…
Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Tuesday, September 28th— is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms.
After today, 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.
The best mushroom books aren’t always mushroom-related.
Take the Tao Te Ching, for instance. This piece of Chinese philosophical literature was written approximately 2,500 years ago. The word “mushroom” is not mentioned anywhere in the text, but the Tao Te Ching might be one of the best mushroom books I have ever read.
To see what I mean, let’s look at a few words from verse 47.
“The world may be known without leaving the house… The further you go, the less you know.”
How does this apply to mushrooms?
Replace world with mushrooms, and we soon realize that we do not have to travel too far to understand the fungal kingdom.
Tropical jungles, alpine bogs, and distant countries might seem like they have what a mushroom hunter needs. But that’s almost never entirely true. If we haven’t learned as much as a human is capable of learning at home, then we have work to do… at home.
In other words, if we have not learned the mushrooms that grow in our yards, then it might be a good idea to focus on those particular mushrooms before leaving the house (to use the Taoists’ words).
To inspire you to do this kind of work, I filmed a video that focuses only on yard-dwelling mushrooms. Some of the mushrooms grow in the grass. Others grow in your flower beds. All of the mushrooms can be found at home.
Over the next few weeks, a strange wild mushroom will appear from the trunks of oaks and other deciduous trees.
At first glance, this fungus resembles a scarlet-colored spaceship. Upon closer inspection, and especially upon internal inspection, this mushroom literally looks like raw meat. Its taste — a bit sour, a bit mushroomy — is reminiscent of a tangy portobello mushroom.
The Beefsteak Polypore is a mushroom unlike any other. In some parts of Europe, this species is considered to be rare. Here in North America, summer and autumn sightings of the Beefsteak Polypore aren’t infrequent, though they’re not incredibly common either.
Needless to say, the Beefsteak Polypore is one mushroom worth adding to your must-see list of 2021.
Oh my, it is almost the Autumn Equinox! This means it’s time to share this rustic Crabapple Galette inspired by the Great Mother goddess Modron and the great Fairy Queen Morgan Le Fay. Crabapples and berries have long played a role in the magical lore of the Second Harvest or Mabon. (You can learn more…
The Fall Equinox is traditionally about harvest, harvesting the fruits of your labor and the fruits of the land in preparation for the coming of winter. This model of the wheel of the year focuses on earned outcomes: you’ve planted your crops, you’ve tended them all season, you’ve invested the time, and now, you are able to receive the rewards of your efforts. And a lot of our own understanding of the celebration of these seasons works on that narrative: planning, planting, tending, harvesting, and the cycle of the seasons. This same cycle is expected, perhaps, anticipated, in our everyday lives. For example, if you put the effort into getting degrees and starting a career, or if you put in a ton of hard effort at your workplace, you will eventually be rewarded with a harvest, a payoff, and a sense of stability. There’s this large sense that…
The PawPaw is a tree that is so wild and unique and wonderful, and yet, is often quite unknown–it is the only native citrus tree we have in the upper east East Coast and midwest areas. Like some of the other trees I have recently shared in this series, Paw Paw is an underappreciated and under-recognized tree. Within the bushcraft and permaculture circles, it is quite well known as an amazing tree to find, plant, and tend. One of the reasons that PawPaw is probably not more well known has, unsurprisingly, everything to do with the commercial viability of the fruits. PawPaw fruit is absolutely delicious but it only stays good for a few days after picking–so it would never survive the rigors of modern industrial agriculture. You can occasionally find it at a good farmer’s market, and it is well worth…
Harvested dock seed with a ready-to-harvest yellow dock plant
This past month, I had a chance to visit Silver Acres, my friend’s 5 acre farm in the thumb of Michigan, where she is practicing rewilding, restoration agriculture, and permaculture. We were walking through her field and found a good deal of yellow dock that was in seed form–which for the Midwest US, usually happens around Lughnasadh (August 1st) and continues to the Fall Equinox. While I’ve eaten the young leaves and used the roots as medicine, I haven’t had a chance to try making any seed flour yet–so we set about our task joyfully. I’m quite impressed by how easy this flour is to make (compared to say, acorn flour) and it cuts nicely with other flours.
Foraging for wild foods is not only a fantastic way to connect deeply with the land but also allow us to reconnect…
You’ll never see this fungus sold in products intended for consumption (unless the product is mislabeled, of course), but you will find it growing in coniferous forests this time of year. Have you seen anything like it? To learn more about this club-shaped species, check out the latest Instagram post!Click to view post
Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!