Now’s The Time To Harvest This Great North American Superfood!

Greetings!

I’m excited to partner with Forager’s Harvest in Bruce, Wisconsin for an evening mushroom walk on Thursday, August 9th.  We’ll explore the area in search of summer mushrooms, as well as identify mushrooms that participants bring to the program.  If you’re in the Midwest this August 9th, I’d love to meet you!  More information can be found here.

Next, let’s talk about foods that are super…

When many people think of the word “superfood,” images of expensive powders, fancy juices, and exotic herbs come to mind.

When I think of the word “superfood,” images of local plants, backyard weeds, and brambly fruits come to mind.

As nature would have it, North America (and every habitable continent!) is replete with a cornucopia of superfoods manifested as wild fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs.

The wild blueberry is one common fruit that, despite its ubiquity, is certainly a superfood in every sense of the word.  Tasty, abundant, and brimming with health-promoting compounds, its value to both humans and wildlife cannot be overstated.

I recently spent some time in the company of a few wild blueberry shrubs and decided to document the experience.  If you’re interested in learning why I recommend the wild blueberry as a regular component of the human diet (and garden!), check out the brand new video!

Have you been finding any choice edible mushrooms lately?  Here’s a list of 8 edible fungi you’re likely to encounter during the warmest weeks of the year… especially after a good rainfall!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

Adam Haritan

Friends of Forest Farming

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

As armies of amateur wildcrafters pluck Appalachian ginseng, goldenseal, and other medicinal herbs to near extinction, a coalition of universities, nonprofits, and “forest farmers” are working on a solution that will not only help preserve these wild herbs but also prevent supplement adulteration.

The Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition includes Virginia Tech, Penn State, and North Carolina State University; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and other government organizations; nonprofits like United Plant Savers and the Blue Ridge Woodland Growers; and Appalachian landowners and farmers. Together, these entities are developing a model called “forest farming” for cultivating traditionally wildcrafted herbs, including black cohosh {Actaea racemosa}, goldenseal {Hydrastis canadensis}, bloodroot {Sanguinaria canadensis}, ginseng {Panaxquinquefolius}, blue cohosh {Caulophyllum thalictroides}, stoneroot {Collinsoniacanadensis}, wild yam {Dioscorea villosa}, and wild indigo {Baptisia tinctoria}.

During…

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A Druid’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, Part II: Nature Wisdom

The Druid's Garden

One of my favorite mushrooms- the Chicken of the Woods One of my favorite mushrooms- the Chicken of the Woods

As any mushroom hunter knows, mushrooms are tricksy little buggers.  What one looks like in one setting may not necessarily be what one looks like in another, depending on soil conditions, moisture, sun, size of the mushroom, insect damage, and/or regional variation. Mushroom species can vary a lot, even from one small region to another, and that variation can spell trouble for someone who hasn’t yet gained the wisdom to understand such variation.  Mushroom books offer perhaps 1-2 photos of mushrooms, and a good book will also offer a mushroom hunter the “keys” (features that distinguish one mushroom from another, like attached gills, color, etc).  However, only lived and true experience can help you not make a dangerous mistake when it comes to the mycelium kingdom.  The difference here, I think, epitomizes two key things: the different aspects of nature…

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Pantry Profile: Basil {Ocimum basilicum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Bright green, tall, and aromatic, basil is a beauty. An ancient plant with a long history and strange folklore, its sweet, peppery flavor has been used for centuries in cuisine and medicine.

Basil is native to Africa and Southeast Asia and was eventually cultivated in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Roman scholar Pliny the Elder described basil’s {now well-known} benefits as a carminative and digestive, explaining its effectiveness in relieving flatulence, colic, and nausea. It also has a long history of use for coughs associated with colds, and the leaves were routinely used topically as an insect repellent and poultice to relieve bug bites and stings.

Much myth and legend surrounded this plant we now consider a simple culinary herb. The ancient Egyptians believed basil would entice the god Osiris to open the gates of the afterlife. In his book the English Physician Enlarged, 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper…

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The Wild Mushroom That Tastes Like Garlic

By Adam Haritan

Greetings!

One of the best parts about being a nature enthusiast is getting to meet other nature enthusiasts around the country.  Over the next few months, I’ll be giving talks and leading walks throughout the Northeast and I’d love to meet you!  Here’s the most recent schedule of upcoming events:

July 20-21:  Shelly Conrad – Gary Lincoff 2018 Memorial Foray in Davis, WV
July 26-29:  NEMF Mushroom Foray in Geneseo, NY
August 10-12:  Mushrooms as Food & Medicine in Bruce, WI
September 7-9:  Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club — Fungus Fest in Twin Lake, MI
September 9:  Wild Edibles Walk & Mushroom Outing in Owosso, MI
September 21-23:  Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in Prairie du Chien, WI

For more information on these events, check out the Learn Your Land event calendar.

Moving forward, let’s talk about the garlic mushroom.  This edible fungus smells and tastes like garlic, and you can use it as a substitute for garlic in meals.

Strangely enough, this alliaceous mushroom hasn’t made its way into supermarkets, though fortunately it can be found growing profusely underneath coniferous and hardwood trees around the world.  Perhaps it’s even growing in your backyard.

To learn more about this marvelous little mushroom, check out the brand new video!

Speaking of marvelous species, wild orchids are at the top of the list.  This particular orchid is blooming right now, though if you’re interested in observing its flower, be prepared to get your feet wet.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Summer Herbs: Feverfew {Tanacetum parthenium}

Summer Herbs: Feverfew …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Bride’s Button
  • Compositae
  • Featherfew
  • Featherfoil
  • Febrifuge Plant
  • Feverfew
  • Wild Chamomile

The feverfew herb has been used as an herbal remedy since the time of Dioscorides-78 A.D. The herbal remedies made from the feverfew was used to treat problems such as a headache, the development of menstrual irregularities in women, disorders such as stomachaches, and all types of fevers in particular. The common name of the herb itself is a simple corruption of the name in Latin- febrifuge or the fever reducer. Botanist is still agreed about what proper scientific name to give to this strongly aromatic and perennial herb. The feverfew belongs to the plant family Asteraceae, the disagreement among botanists about naming the plant has been existing for a long time now. The feverfew was in fact, placed into five different genera at different times. At this present time, the herb is known by the botanical name Tanacetum parthenium…

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6 Bug Repellent Patio Plants

Six Bug Repellent Patio Plants …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

We love to spend our summer days outside with family and friends, but pesky bugs are quick to drive a party indoors. For a chemical-free way to keep insects at bay this season, we asked the experts from our green goods team to recommend their favorite bug repellent plants. Planted near the doorway or transformed into essential oils, these six natural options deter mosquitoes, flies, and more uninvited guests in the summer garden.

1. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Like many members of the mint family, this herb provides protection against summertime mosquitoes. To make a quick, all-natural bug repellent, crush a handful of lemon balm leaves and rub onto any exposed skin. If you’ve already suffered a bug bite, its soothing oils can limit itching as well. This easy-to-grow herb also has a number of additional applications, from infused teas and vinegar to green salads.

2. Ageratum ‘Artist…

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Wild Food Profile: Milkweed + Fried Milkweed Pod Recipe

Wild Food Profile …

The Druid's Garden

Monarch catepillar enjoying a milkweed feast--they know the good stuff when they see it! Monarch caterpillar enjoying a milkweed feast–they know the good stuff when they see it!

I love the summer months for foraging wild foods.  One of my very favorite wild foods is Common Milkweed (asclepias syriaca).  Around here, the pods are just beginning to form–and its a great time to explore this delightful wild food.  They have a light vegetable taste, maybe something like a sugar snap pea–very tasty and delicious.  In fact, this is one of the best wild foods, allowing you to have four different harvests from the plant at four different times during the spring, summer, and early fall.

Ethical Harvesting and Nurturing Practice

With the excitement of harvesting from common milkweed, however, comes a serious responsibility.  New farming techniques over the last 20 years have eliminated many of the hedges that used to be full of milkweed.  Because of this issue, the monarchs have been in serious…

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Tips For Growing and Preserving Herbs In The Low Desert

By Crooked Bear Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Soil Preparation:

In low desert areas, growers are not blessed with the rich, organic soil we’d prefer to have. Most gardens will need some organic material, soil sulfur, ammonium phosphate, and gypsum. Every year, as a matter of fact, you may need to add organic matter and gypsum. Pay close attention to your garden soil. If you get a soil test, you’ll know what the pH and fertility are and can make any necessary adjustments. If the test indicates your soil needs it, add fertilizer during pre-plant soil preparation, when it is easier to amend the soil; you’ll also find the results more effective. Spade the soil deeply, to a depth of 18 inches, to loosen compact soils. Enrich the soil with plenty of compost and well-rotted manure. It greatly helps gardeners to spade as much as 6 inches of organic material into the top 12 inches of the planting…

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Southwest Herb Gardening: What To Plant In June, and Watering In June

By Crooked Bear Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

We recommend most plants be planted in the fall or spring. However, if you must plant during the summer months watering may need to be more frequent and you must be diligent about observing your newly planted plants for signs of water stress. Follow the guidelines in the Watering section.

Many cacti and warm-season succulents can still be planted in the summer. When transplanting cacti and succulents, mark either the south or west side and plant facing the orientation you marked to avoid the burning of tender tissues. Most nurseries will mark the side of the container to help you determine proper planting orientation. However, if the original orientation is not known, newly planted cacti and succulents need to be covered with shade cloth if the plant surface appears to yellow or pale suddenly. Use a shade cloth rated between 30-60% as anything higher will block most of the sunlight and…

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