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 […]


31 Wild foods to forage in July

July is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. Whether you’re in the country or the city, there are wild foods all over that are tasty and nutritious. This is a good month for wild fruits, such as black raspberries and wild plums. Wild greens are still plentiful, such as purslane and lamb’s quarters (just look for the […]


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 […]


50 Reasons You Should Forage for Wild Foods

If you’re not foraging for wild foods, you’re missing out on opportunities left and right. Foraged foods are spectacular in so many ways, from saving money to exposing you to foods can’t find elsewhere to giving you awesome health benefits, just to name a fraction of the benefits. Foraging helps you, your family, your health and the planet. It’s good […]


Foraging as a Family

Foraging is such a wonderful skill to learn as a family! Wild foods are free, fresh, healthy and natural.  Many of them provide more nutrients than most foods you can find in the grocery store and some of them are absolutely delicious. Foraging gets families outside, providing fresh air and exercise while spending time together.  Children learn all sorts of […]


10 Delicious ways to use mulberries

I shared how to easily harvest mulberries with your kids last week. Now, here’s ten great ways to use your haul.A little about mulberries: You can use them in any recipe that calls for berries. If the berries are fully ripe, the stems are soft and completely edible (and will turn purple and look inconspicuous when cooked up), but you […]


Freezing tomatoes before they freeze 2

Fall is hitting early and with a vengeance (we’ve had frost warnings the past two nights) and we’re picking a lot of tomatoes right away that we’d otherwise harvest in waves. Some will still be not-quite-ripe or even green (it’s been a strange growing season), but that’s okay. If they’re close to ripe, just leave them on a sunny windowsill […]


15 more ways to use your foraged walnuts 1

I’m still busy cracking the walnuts I harvested last fall (I have over 14 cups of meats so far), and I’m still finding creative ways to use them. Here are some more easy recipes I discovered online. Many of them involve maple syrup, because the maple sap has been running and it’s another great treat from your backyard! Maple-walnut butter […]


Fantastic ways to use foraged walnuts 1

Walnuts are some of the best nuts for foraging and there are all sorts of fantastic ways to use them. Last week, I wrote about how to shell your dried walnuts and harvest the meats. Now it’s time to put them to good use! You can eat them raw or grind them and use them as salad toppings, but the […]


Let’s get cracking! (those walnut meats) 3

Spring is FINALLY arriving in Minnesota, and it’s time to get back into the foraging mindset. Nothing’s ready to be picked yet, but I’ve got 3 large bags of walnuts that have been drying since last fall, and it’s warm enough to start opening them. So let’s get cracking! Materials: dried walnuts from last fall’s harvest (you DID remember this […]


Foraging walnuts 101 1

Have you ever walked through a park in the fall and stumbled over what looks like green tennis balls? Are you ready to make use of the black walnuts you see scattered all over your neighborhood? Gathering them is easy, and you’ll have a stash of delicious and nutritious treats when you’re finished. Finding the walnuts: To gather walnuts, all […]


Early summer foraging: Mulberries 2

It’s mulberry season! Mulberries are delicious treats that are easy to harvest and great to use in all kinds of recipes. I’ve written about them in the past, because mulberry picking is a great activity to do with the kids — and kids love to eat them! I detailed how to find and gather mulberries in Here we go ’round […]


inexpensive corn for freezing 1

It’s August, and farmer’s markets and roadside stands are full of fresh sweet corn. It’s delicious, of course, but it also can be very expensive if you want enough to put some away in the freezer. Fortunately there’s a simple solution. Ask. Quite often, the corn they have for sale there is the freshest corn they have. But the fields […]


Looking out for asparagus 4

The next time you’re driving along in the country, look out the window for clumps of spindly, dark green plants that look like wispy Christmas trees. Congratulations — you’ve found wild asparagus! It’s one of the most unknown of wild foods, which is a shame. It’s delicious, easy to harvest over quite a long period of time, and Euell Gibbons […]