Yearly Archives: 2016


The unknown pear is identified!

The unknown pear from Lake Talcot has been identified!  I’ve seen it for years, and have never known what it is. The best term I ever found was “immigrant pear”, because it was something early immigrants brought over as animal feed.  Chasing a lead down the rabbit hole today, I finally found it. I give you… Pyrus pyraster, the European […]


Foraging, 9/15/16

Today’s foraging report:   It’s raining, so we have a very short window for picking but we’re showing a friend how to can tonight, so we needed pears. We picked two kinds at Talcot and one at GS, so I thought since we had them on hand I’d do a comparison.   In the back row we have GS pears […]


Foraging, 8/16/16

Yesterday we went to my parent’ house and picked 2 large boxes of pears. Today I checked one of my secret sites, and sure enough — 2 more boxes of pears off one tree (the eating ones), and I didn’t even get to start on the other (much fuller) one (the canning pears). Plus there’s a tree there has apples […]


Foraging, 8/22/16

The pears are DONE. Between my parents’ house and my secret spot, we ended up with 11 gallons of pear halves. The first 5 were turned into 15 quarts of sauce, and I see a similar fate for the others when Alicia gets home. Now to start picking some more.


Foraging, 8/25/16

My latest apple foraging find. The tree is full of these apple (LPC)s, a source says it only fruits every few years. I just got lucky! They’re up to 3″ across but only 1 1/2-2″ high, medium flesh (not too crunchy or mushy), sweet, delicious, and starts browning pretty quickly. No idea what kind it is, but I’ll be going […]


Foraging, 8/26/16

Our foraged apples for the day. The one in the left is one recent tree (LPC), the crabapple is located nearby, and the huge apple is a new tree we found on property nobody lives on. Huge, white flesh, crisp, delicious. And it’s a dwarf tree so all the fruit fits in one large box.           […]


Foraging, 8/27/16

Apple update — I think I’ve identified the first LPC tree (with the wide but short apples). I think it’s a Baldwin, and they’re delicious. I may have to go finish picking the tree. How to identify the Baldwin apple variety Baldwin apple variety identification characteristics. Compare your Baldwin apple with our extensive apple identification database. applename.com Save


Foraging, 8/29/16

Today’s foraging finds. The right one is from Jeffers, the left one is Sam’s Club, and the middle is a small tart one from Chipotle. Save


Elderberries, 8/30/16

The elderberries are ripening! From 2 small spots, we picked almost 14 cleaned cups of berries, so just shy of a gallon. The major patches are yet to come — I haven’t even checked them yet!


Foraging, 8/30/16

It’s been an odd year for foraging. Something about the spring weather, but this year we had bumper crops of asparagus, elderberries, pears, and apples (some trees that haven’t produced in years are going crazy). On the other hand, there were no mulberries, black raspberries, gooseberries, wild plums, or pin cherries. I guess pick and save what you can and […]


Trio, 9/1/16

Today’s foraging haul – Lake Talcot pears (2 very full bags, many more to pick, wonderful for canning), Chipotle apples (1 very full bag, very tart, going to make cider), and Sam’s Club apples (1 full bag, crisp, for pies and baking). Also checked on the elderberry patches – we may be too late! Save


Foraging, 9/2/16

This is what we have waiting to process right now (canning as sauce or freezing for baking. Also some cider). Talcot pears. LPC apples. Chipotle apples. Sam’s Club apples. We missed out on the Talcot apples (they were early, and we weren’t) but there are plenty of pears left. There are also more apple trees to check. Save


Foraging, 9/3/16

11 pints and 3 quarts of applesauce canned, and pears getting prepped. We should have 6 quarts of halves in syrup.


Foraging, 9/5/16

Another non-foraging day of foraging. I picked many elderberries and prepped them (elderberry wine is on the slate this year), didn’t get to ask about a pear tree (but will), didn’t get around to asking about an apple tree (but will), and got some free roadside tomatoes. Also prepped a bunch of pears for canning, so there’s that.


Foraging, 9/6/16

Forage a jolly good fellow… Around doing everything else, we found out there’s no elderberries left near Lakefield (And precious few walnuts), but there’s still some elderberries west of town. We also got permission to pick a new pear tree, and cooked down some of the Sam’s club apples. It makes a very tart green applesauce (7 pints canned).


Trio, 9/7/16

Talcot pear, Jeffers Apple, GS pear.  The Talcot pears have a “bite” to them that makes them not great for eating, but wonderful for canning.  The Jeffers apples are wonderfully mild, and the GS pears are great for eating, not so much for canning.


Apples, 9/7/16

Foraging today: we finally picked apples from the Jeffers tree (about half a bag, I need a better picker), we prepped and canned 7 quarts of pears, and we’re off to get more. A slow day. Jeffers apples: full red when ripe, soft white flesh, I’d say sauce and cider. And eating, of course.  


Foraging, 9/12/16

Many foragy things going on today. I prepped and cut enough pears for 10 quarts to be canned (and they are), and then we got out the juicer. The results of the juice experiments: Chipotle apples: incredibly tart Sam’s Club apples: green juice, very tart LP crab apples- kind of tart, nice flavor, pink juice LP apples – mild, delicious […]


Foraging, 9/13/16

It was back to the foraging today. I picked a bag of GS pears for a friend, and 2 bags of Robin apples for us. For 10 minutes of picking, we ended up with 7 quarts of beautiful pink applesauce (6 canned, one for eating).


Foraging, 9/14/16, part 1

So far today we’ve bagged up over a gallon of frozen chopped pears from the GS tree, and I’ve chopped and frozen another gallon plus of Sam’s Club apples (they’re tart, they’ll work great in bread).  I’ve also peeled and prepped enough Talcot pears to make 8 quarts and a hair left over. Time to NOT do things for a […]


Foraging, 9/14/16, part 2

  1) The Windom hospital cut down its apple trees! I’m really sad, those were wonderful Red Baron apples. I mean, I still have too many to pick and process, but I liked those apples.   2) They *do* still have pear trees, though. Two different kinds – the larger ones (almost all gone) have a very thick, leathery skin […]


Roasted Tomato Sauce (Simple and Delicious!)

Nothing smells better on a fall day than roasted tomato sauce. With back yards and farmers’ markets brimming with fresh tomatoes right now, this is the perfect time to make up a batch.  Once you try, you’ll never want make tomato sauce any other way! If you’ve never made roasted tomato sauce, you don’t know what you’re missing. This pasta […]


25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden. There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens like […]


Root to Stem Cooking: How to Use Every Part of Your Produce

  When you stroll through the farmers’ market or pick up your CSA box, you’re likely to find something that you won’t find in area supermarkets — whole plants.   Local growers tend to leave the leaves on root vegetables like beets and carrots, keep the flowery fronds on the fennel and otherwise give you a lot of extras with […]

Roots to Stems: How to use every part of your produce!

10 Perennial flowers that thrive in compacted clay soil

If you have clay garden soil, you know that it can be tricky to get some perennial flowers to grow in it. Clay soil can be tough on plants because it easily becomes compacted, drainage is poor, oxygen content is low and roots have a tough time working their way through the soil. Those with clay soil have less sand […]


50 Deer resistant flowers, plants and herbs

Are deer treating your landscaping plants like a buffet line? One easy remedy is to plant flowers and plants that deer tend to avoid, either because they are toxic, smell bad to them or have textures that they find unpleasant. Here’s a round-up of 50 flowers, plants and herbs that deer tend to dislike. All of these are suitable for […]


Easy, natural ways to perfect garden soil

Even if your back yard is full of sandy, clay or otherwise miserable soil, you can convert it into rich, healthy soil. While you can purchase specialty products to help you do this, you can use a variety of natural materials and creative methods to do it yourself — virtually free. The key is to make sure there’s lots of […]


30 Ways to use mint

Mint is one of those workhorses of the garden. Once you plant it, your hardest job is keeping it from overtaking everything else in the yard and figuring out what to do with it all. It grows easily in most of the country and robustly returns to zone 4 Minnesota gardens every spring, where it grows happily until fall frosts. […]

30 Ways to use mint

Tree Craft offers easy projects from tree trimmings and found wood

I have a new favorite craft book. I just got Tree Craft in the mail yesterday and already I’ve read it cover to cover and am planning projects to do with my kids. Tree Craft, by Chris Lubkemann, offers “35 rustic wood projects that bring the outdoors in.” From salt and pepper shakers to coat racks to a giant checkerboard […]


40 Fruits, vegetables and herbs that will grow in partial shade 1

We all know that most garden crops want as much sun as possible. Tomatoes, melons and peppers will positively pout if they don’t get oodles of light. What you may not realize is that many other garden crops will do quite well with limited sunlight. Which plants will put up with lower light levels? A general rule is that plants […]

All kinds of great articles about organic gardenings that will grow in partial shade

16 Ridiculously easy seeds to plant in your first garden

If you’re new to flower and vegetable gardening, it can seem overwhelming. There are so many varieties of flowers, herbs and vegetables to plant. Some need to be started indoors six to eight weeks (or longer) before transplanting into the garden. Some need very long growing seasons or special conditions. Some seeds need to be notched, cold stratified, or soaked […]


Best-ever gluten-free sandwich bread

When our family had to go gluten free, all of our kids really missed bread. Our daughter Rhiannon was twelve years old at the time and she took it upon herself to start baking gluten free breads for the family. This recipe was a winner that we have been making ever since. This bread is dairy free and soy free […]

Best-ever gluten-free sandwich bread

Seven benefits of backyard chickens

Seven benefits of backyard chickens

Citizens in cities around the country have been battling over backyard chickens in recent years.  Many residents have been up in arms at the idea of allowing their neighbors to own chickens, suggesting that the neighborhood will turn noisy, unsanitary and out of control. In truth, backyard chickens have many benefits.  Here are just a few. 1.  They provide better […]


12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Do you mulch your vegetable gardens? If you don’t, you should. The right mulch helps retain moisture, prevents weeds from getting a foothold and even enriches the soil as it breaks down. Here are 12 great sources of natural mulch (many of them free!)… Bagged leaves (except from the black walnut tree due to the presence of juglone, a chemical […]

12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Free printable nutrient deficiency charts for your garden plants

Free printable nutrient deficiency charts for your garden plants 1

Here’s a wonderful free resource to help you identify nutritional deficiencies in your garden plants. The University of Arizona cooperative extension office has developed a free color guide illustrating how deficiencies of micronutrients typically look on leaves, along with a handy chart to help pinpoint the problems and solve them. The 8×10 color poster shows common characteristics of leaves on […]


Famous herbalists teach how and why to use motherwort

Motherwort is a commonly found plant that is excellent for treating heart issues, menstrual problems, menopause symptoms, stress and anxiety, among other issues. It has been historically used extensively in China, Europe and North America, and still offers exceptional benefits for a whole range of issues today. Motherwort, whose latin name is Leonurus cardiaca, is an herbaceous perennial plant in […]

Famous herbalists teach how and why to use motherwort

25 Fantastic foraging groups and pages on Facebook

25 Fantastic foraging groups and pages on Facebook

Has your family tried foraging yet? Foraging for wild edibles is a great way to get healthy, pesticide-free, tasty food for free, plus try wonderful new tastes and get out in nature. There are many great books out there to give you basic information about foraging and I recommend you check out a pile of them from the library since […]


How to tap black walnut trees for syrup 1

                            Did you know that black walnut trees can be tapped in late winter to produce a syrup similar to maple syrup? If you have access to black walnut trees, this is a great way to put them to use. Black walnut trees are unique in that […]

How to tap black walnut trees for syrup

Setting up a green kitchen on a budget

                                      So you’ve decided you want to start cooking and eating more naturally, but you don’t have the money to invest in $500 blenders and fancy bakeware. The good news is that it doesn’t take a huge budget to make a huge […]


Free book teaches how to build a cob house

Cob houses are becoming more and more popular again, thanks to how amazingly inexpensive they are to build and the fact that just about anybody can build them. Becky Bee’s landmark book on the subject, the Cob Builder’s Handbook, is available for free online to help teach people how to do it. Despite the unusual sounding name, cob houses are […]


How to make acorn flour

Late summer and early autumn are acorn harvesting time in Minnesota and much of the country.  If you’ve never tried making your own acorn flour from this plentiful, free, nutritious food source, you’re in for a treat!  It’s a lot of effort, but the results are delicious. Acorns were a large part of many Native American tribes’ diets and have […]


How to tell the difference between ramps and lily-of-the-valley 1

New foragers sometimes worry about telling the difference between highly sought-after ramps (wild leeks) and their poisonous look-alikes, Lily-of-the-valley. It’s always wise to be leery when you’re new to foraging, but once you know what to look for you don’t need to worry. There are quite a few ways to accurately tell the difference between the two plants. Ramps (ramsons […]


Famous herbalists teach how and why to use nettles

Here’s a wonderful video where famous herbalists such as Rosemary Gladstar, Susun Weed and Matthew Wood teach why they love nettles, how to harvest it and use them, their many health benefits and more. The video begins and ends with herbalists David Hoffmann and Isla Burgess talking about why nettles are their favorite plants. During the main part of the […]


Natural recipes: Elderberry honey syrup

Every family should keep a jar of elderberry honey syrup in their refrigerator. This simple, natural elixir is fabulous at preventing and treating illnesses and it couldn’t be easier to make or more natural. What’s so great about elderberry syrup? Elderberry syrup is one of the best things on the planet to fight illness. It protects against multiple strains of […]


50 Wild edible superfoods

50 Wild edible superfoods

With our world and our foods are becoming increasingly contaminated, it’s more important than ever to regularly consume foods that help provide extra nutrients and protect our health. Wild edibles can be some of the best foods to help do this. Some of the most commonly foraged foods are also the types of plants that are the most beneficial, such […]


How to forage and cook with spruce tips (with video for spruce tip jelly)

Spruce tips are wonderful spring edibles that are not only tasty and unique, but also great for us. They are rich in Vitamin C and have been used traditionally for years to soothe coughs and sore throats, as well as to alleviate lung congestion and to treat lung and kidney infections. Best of all, they’re abundantly available this time of […]


How to cook with ramps

It’s ramp season, and whether you buy them at the farmer’s market or forage them yourself in the wild, this is the time to take advantage of this delicious (but short lived) delicacy. What are ramps? The Huffington Post says: Here’s the short answer: ramps are a wild onion that grow during the spring in Eastern Canada and the U.S. […]


30 Wild foods to forage in April

April is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. The weather is generally beautiful, and it’s great to get back out in the outdoors after a long winter. Greens like dandelions and nettles are tender, mild and at their peak for cooking, teas, salads and medicinal uses. Many of the best wild edibles can only be found this […]

30 Wild foods to forage in April

How to cook pheasant’s back or dryad’s saddle mushrooms 3

Pheasant’s back mushrooms can be incredibly easy to find this time of year and incredibly tasty — but you have to know which ones to use and how to prepare them right. Many foragers are told not to bother with pheasant’s back mushrooms, also known as dryad’s saddles. While it’s undisputed that they are edible (as in non-poisonous), many experienced […]