How-to


FYFO-100 Tip: Why You Should Mostly Skip the Conventional Grocery Stores

Here’s an easy way to lower your grocery costs.  At the start of each week (or whenever your local stores change their sales), check out the sales flyers for any grocery stores near you.  Only check for grocery items that you either use regularly or would use if they were cheap enough.  Make a list for each store in a […]

why you should avoid conventional grocery stores

How to make pumpkin puree

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Sure, you can go buy those orange cans of pumpkin puree at the grocery store, but making your own is so much more satisfying! It’s also much easier than you might think.  Best of all, this time of year it’s incredibly cheap, even if you didn’t grow your own pumpkins.  My kitchen table is currently covered in pie pumpkins that […]


Fabulous Free Permaculture Book Teaches DIY Urban Rainwater Harvesting

Here’s a wonderful free booklet to help you use permaculture principles to harvest rainwater and put it to use in your yard and gardens.     The wonderfully-illustrated 8-page primer was created by by Joe Linton (of LA Creek Freak) to accompany a workshop he did in 2008.   The guide draws heavily from Brad Landcaster’s books Rainwater Harvesting for […]

Fabulous free permaculture book teaches DIY urban rainwater harvesting

It's acorn season!

It’s Acorn Season! 2

Our family has been busy lately with one of our favorite wild edible foods of fall — acorns. Acorn processing #fallforaging #forageandharvest #wildedibles #foraging #foragingfamily #septemberforaging #fallflavors #acorns A post shared by Alicia Bayer (@magicandmayhem) on Sep 4, 2017 at 11:04am PDT Yes, you can eat them, and they are absolutely delicious.  They’re also nutritious and versatile.  You can use […]


It’s Elderberry Season! 2

Daryl and I have been faithfully checking our elder patches for the past few weeks and he brought home a bag of our first elderberry bounty for the year this week. This particular clump of elders is bordering a nursing home that has given us permission to pick their pears and elderberries.  He harvested them in the dark, bless his […]


#fyfo100 checklist of 10 ways to afford organic foods

The Top 10 #FYFO-100 Strategies for Eating Organic for Less

I’ll mostly be focusing on 10 main ways to save money on healthy and organic foods in the FYFO-100 series (Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)). Everybody has different circumstances, so different strategies will be better for different families. You do not need to do all or even most of these to save money, but the more you […]


FYFO- 100: Feed Your Family Organic for $100 a Week (or less!) 2

Yes, you can feed your family healthy, organic, non-GMO food and not go bankrupt doing it! Welcome to FYFO-100, where I’ll share how we feed our family of 7 for around $100 a week. Every few days, I’ll share more tips for how we make it work. You can go all-in and learn skills like foraging or canning, or you […]

FYFO 100 Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)

Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More

Now in Paperback!

  My elderberry book is now available in a paperback edition!  We heard from many people who wanted a physical copy of the book, especially to make use of it while foraging and for the cookbook section.  I worked over the past couple of months to create the best possible paperback version, with black and white photos and illustrations throughout […]


Seven Plants, Weeds and Flowers That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Property

If you have soil that’s been contaminated by lead, you know that it’s probably not safe for vegetable gardening and it can also be a hazard to children and pets who play on your property. Lead can be a serious problem in gardens, ponds and wetlands, in addition to posing health risks for growing kids.   Lead contamination is a […]

Seven Plants That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Soil, Ponds and Wetlands

DIY natural sunscreen

How to Make Your Own DIY Natural Sunscreen

It’s starting to get to sunburn season! Wearing hats and staying in the shade isn’t really cutting it the way it does the rest of the year, especially if you spend a day at the beach or out in the hot sun. With that said, there are some pretty scary ingredients in even “natural” sunscreens. One alternative is to make […]


How to Make Elderflower Soda (or Elderflower Sparkling Wine) 2

Have you heard of elderflower soda?  This is a traditional elderflower delicacy that is so popular in Romania that it inspired Coca-Cola to release their own version, Fanta Shokata (though theirs contains no real elderflowers). It is also known as Socată or Suc de Soc. Here’s the recipe to make your own, which is another from my book, Elderberries: The […]

How to make elderflower syrup (or elderflower sparkling wine)!

All kinds of brilliant ways to use banana peels for your houseplants and gardens

How to Use Banana Peels for Fertilizer, Dried Mulch and More

Banana peels are some of the best food sources you can give your houseplants and your garden. Yes, you can just toss them in the compost pile, but you can put them to even better use in other ways.   Banana peels are full of nutrients that plants need. The Micro Gardener says these include: Potassium – helps promote general […]


10 Natural and Organic Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

The recent hot, dry weather has brought a small plague of grasshoppers to my garden for the first time in years, and I’ve been working hard to defeat them.     We garden organically and I didn’t want to douse our family’s food sources with pesticides and poisons. Also, they’re just not terribly effective. Timing is important in their life […]

Natural Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

How to find wild asparagus

How to Find Wild Asparagus

Few wild edibles are as satisfying to forage as wild asparagus. It’s tasty, prolific, nutritious, and you can gather a huge bounty of it in just the few weeks of its season. Indeed, it grows so fast (many inches per day) that you can sometimes visit the same foraging spots twice a day and still keep harvesting new spears.   […]


Make Your Own Elderberry Schnapps! 5

Here’s another easy recipe from my new book, Elderberries: The Beginner’s Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More (available now on Kindle and in paperback). This is a beautiful, deep purple schnapps that is so simple to make with either fresh or frozen elderberries.  See the directions at the bottom of the recipe […]

Make your own elderberry schnapps from dried elderberries

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!

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 […]


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

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 […]


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 […]


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. […]


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 […]


31 Wild foods to forage in May

There are so many fantastic wild edibles to forage in May. Many of the best wild foods can only be found this time of year, such as wild asparagus and morels. Greens are still mild and delicious, and more and more favorites are starting to show themselves. Here are 31 wild edible foods to look for in May, along with […]


How to easily forage (and use) mulberries

Mulberries are some of the greatest wild edibles to forage. They’re nutritious, delicious and easy to gather. Most kids find them irresistible too. Here’s how you can gather mulberries with your kids and make it fun and easy. Mulberry trees can be found in parks, woods and neighborhoods all over the U.S. and the berries and trees are easy to […]


What is urban foraging anyway? 2

I consider myself an urban forager, and many people have asked me exactly what I mean by that. To me, urban foraging is more than just walking through the woods (although that’s definitely a part of it). And it’s more than just wandering through town looking at people’s yards and gardens. First, let me say what it is not (at […]


Making your own fruit picker 1

The main problem I have with fruit trees is that they very seldom stop growing at 8′ tall. Most of the best looking harvest is far above that, so I need a way to extend my reach. Enter the fruit picker. I have a very old one my father passed on to me, and it works. That’s about all I […]


Use Google Maps to mark your foraging spots 5

Have good foraging spots but forget where they are from year to year? See something promising by the side of the road and want to check it out later? Google Maps is the answer! I don’t have a handheld device with GPS (I’m too old to be learning new tricks), but this works perfectly. I just make a note of […]