Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The well rounded herbal practioner

Whether you're drawn to plant medicine for yourself or a desire to help others, there's far more to it than learning to match plant to the person's needs or identifying and preparing plants from the wild.

You have to be able to think.

It's not a matter of memorizing 'facts' and being able to recall them as needed - that's not thinking, it's what one of my teachers used to call mental regurgitation. What we need is the ability to recognize patterns. Sympathies and antipathies, as Culpeper would say.

We have to be able to visualise and imagine. To conjure up images in our minds, let them grow and explore them.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Plantain (the herb, not the banana)

Plantain (plantago spp.) is the one herb everyone needs to know about, especially kids or people who have them. It's one of the first aid plants that grow under right our noses (well, feet) where and when needed for bug bites & stings, splinters, or skinned knees; pretty much anything untoward that our outside surfaces can come up against, plantain can soothe and heal. Infected cut? Blister? Plantain.

It does the same for our insides, too. Abscess in your mouth? (ouch!) Plantain. Raw sore throat? Stomach ulcer? Plantain.

This ever so useful, ever so weedy herb grows no matter where you are in the world, in one form or another, tropical or arctic-al (is that a word? it is now). Don't try to tell me you don't have plantain, because you do.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Flu and philosophical musings

Today's post is over at my other blog. Feel free to click on over.

Unless you're one of those damned annoying Russian bots. I've had about enough of you guys.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A course in every day miracles

(or, how to get the most out of my ramblings)

Judging by the stats for this blog (if you can believe them) and the emails from readers, we seem to have a few newcomers here.

That's led me to look through older posts on the blog with an eye to what has already been covered, and then back to the stats to see if those posts are being read. They're not, they're buried. So from time to time I think I'll link you back to them. For some of you this will be review, but if there is one thing I have learned it is that review is essential. I still do it, especially in winter, and even though as I read my old text books I can practically recite certain passages by heart, something I have forgotten or perhaps never quite absorbed will pop out at me.

One thing my readers know about my writing is that I tend to go off on tangents. They're useful things, those tangents, so I want you to pay attention to them. But sometimes they lead me astray and there are blanks in the posts that shouldn't be there.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Apples in the snow

There's a post by this title over on my other blog. It's sort of a wildcrafting post, but it's a little woo, too.

If you don't like woo, don't go there.

Monday, 21 November 2016

St John'swort, topically.

Poor St John'swort. Pigeon-holed by the popular press as an 'herbal anti-depressant' (which it's not, really, except when it it is, sorta, although not how you'd think), it has so much more to offer!

Among other things, it's antiviral, it's a liver herb, it's a nerve healer and it's cheering. For so many issues we humans come up against, some small and irritating, some large and life-altering, St J is often the answer.

Here is a case study from the 'large and life altering' category, from someone near and dear to me. Well, not all that near, as she is now living thousands of miles away .. but certainly dear, as she's my sister!

Here's Catherine's story, in her own words ..

"More than three years ago, I was injured in a rather spectacular traffic accident.

I suffered a compound fracture to my right wrist, which in layman’s terms means the bones were sticking through the skin. I had emergency surgery that night and a second one a couple of weeks later.

Part of my radius bone was replaced by what I think looks like a fork.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Foraging for Black Walnuts

Here's a little foraging and garbling tale from Paul, on the finicky business of handling black walnuts.

A few years back a friend from Kentucky gave me some black walnuts from his folks’ farm. I was immediately addicted. I helped him gather some in Ottawa last year, but wanted my own supply. Our little village should have some walnut trees, I reasoned, but had no success locating them, because I was looking for a HUGE tree, like the massive one in an old part of Ottawa we saw last year.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Late fall foraging

We seem to be having what the country folk call a 'long, open fall' here; no snow yet. And as this comes on the heels of the best wild fruit summer we've seen in our 10 years here, I am one happy camper these days.

I keep going for walks and coming home with the likes of this:

Top - dandelions
Left - nettles good for eatin' (and we did) Right - rosehips and wild grapes for juice

Thursday, 6 October 2016

About those nettle seeds ..

(Yeah, I know I said I was kinda done with this blog. Then came all that talk of nettle seeds and a bunch of emails full of questions on how and why and where to find them.. and here I am again .. )

First, let me say that maybe nettle 'seed' is a misnomer. I catch those little beauties when they're still green on the plant, before they would be viable for growing. So I suppose, really, they're the fruits. I guess. Nettle seed for growing would be brown. Can you eat the brown ones? I'll go out on a limb and say yes, especially as I know of other nettle enthusiasts who specifically wait until they are brown before harvesting. But they drop off the plant so soon after ripening, you gotta be quick.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Garbling the message

Herbalists use the word "garble" to describe the process of preparing plant material for use. Dictionaries call this definition "obsolete". (sigh)

To everyone else, to garble is to mix up words or ideas so badly that the original meaning or intent is obscured.

I can tell you, when it comes to all things herbal, the message out there on the internet is garbled in the second sense. Pretty badly, too.

Friday, 5 August 2016

"Herbalists have always been strange"

That's a line lifted from a talk by the much loved herbalist David Hoffman that I just tripped over on youtube.

Here's part one:

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

A musical interlude


I know this blog is supposed to be 'snippets from a wildcrafter's journal', but this wildcrafter doesn't have a lot of time to write a journal when she's in the thick of it.

This is the beginning of the busiest, and therefore sweetest time of year for me.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Commercial break post that became a furious rant

(this is the not-ranty part)

Remember last year when I had tinctures and other wild crafted, home made products for sale?

I am so NOT going to do that this year. (Although I do have a few things left over, if you want to know what's still available, write me)

It's not that it wasn't successful. It's not that I didn't kinda sorta enjoy certain aspects of it.

It's just that it's so. not. me.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Roses - part one

Remember, click
to embiggen!
Well this comes under the heading of "what was I thinking??" 

I blurted out in comments earlier that some day I would do a rose post. Oy vey, I can't fit everything I do with roses into one post! And for all I do with them, I barely scratch the surface of what can be done with roses.

But then this blog was never intended to be a comprehensive teaching tool, just a sort of journal of my wildcrafting adventures meant to pique your interest. You, my clever reader-friends, know how to do a Google search, and (as I'm finding out) you're a creative bunch, too. So I'll just share what I do, you guys share back about what you do, or would like to do. Leaving links of cool rose stuff in comments is encouraged!!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Go ahead, get a little wild

The mass of green on the left there
is red clover, just about to come into bloom.
 Mow around it!

It's mostly because we're just too tender-hearted. We've just never been able to mow down something we know to be medicinal, or edible, or will feed the wild bees or the humming birds. It just seems bad form to reject what nature offers up so generously.

So for the first few years we lived here, we'd notice some particularly weedy patch in the lawn, and go around it with the mower. Islands formed, miniature eco-systems. I got the chance to learn about plant succession, about "guilds", and about all the ways these new friends of mine could balance my hormones, relieve my fibro-like pain and how some of them were just downright fun - popping the seed capsules of what is locally known as 'himalayan honeysuckle' is irresistible.
Lambsquarters aka wild spinach. Reliable,
delicious, and carefree. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Eating wild foods from your own back yard - in real life.

Wild foods, or 'weeds' as some call them, you gotta love them. They're free, and they're generally way more nutritious than most garden vegetables. You can wander the countryside to forage for them, you can cozy up to your local organic farmer and offer to weed his garden to get them, or you can just stop mowing your lawn and see what comes up. I do all three, have done for a while now. Here's some of what I've learned.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Violets: breast health, first aid and they taste good, so cherish them.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -

Anyone who considers violets an undesirable weed should be the first with their backs against the wall when the revolution comes.

Weed? Pfffft. 

Violets are both food and medicine; they're a gift, a blessing, and sometimes a prophecy.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Garbling the comfrey roots & a couple of nifty examples of the Doctrine of Signatures

There's a lot to squeeze into this post!

Early spring and late fall are the times we go after root medicine. Right about now, still early spring where I live, while the leaves of herbaceous perennial plants like dandelion and comfrey are still small their roots are still fat and full of stored goodness.

This is one of my many comfrey plants:

This is what happens when you drop ONE comfrey leaf on your lawn.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Learning to forage - plant ID

In the background of this blog is a small but enthusiastic gang of readers who write to me quite regularly - you know who you are - and I'd just like to say how darn proud of you all I am.

I hadn't dared say it out loud, but this is exactly what I was hoping would spring up here, a bunch of newly minted enthusiasts who dare to look a weed in the eye and say 'who ARE you?' and 'what purpose do you serve?'.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Couple of links and pics

Not yet time for me to roll up my sleeves and get back to it (what with there still being glaciers out there and all).

I did start some seeds in the window sill .. click 'read more' for seedling porn

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A little rose, a little 'woo' ...

If you're interested in using roses for first aid, there's a post up at my other blog that touches on the topic.

But .. the other blog is not for everyone. I tend to bring God into things, you see, so if that's one of your triggers, you might not want to bother.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Wintergreen foraging through the snow

It was the day before February.

Cabin fever setting in for real now. Not that it's been a harsh winter, but .. well, we still get crazy. So what to do when there's a thaw for a day? Why go to the beach of course!

"Cote Jaune", Calumet Island, on a narrow channel of the mighty Ottawa river. Across the way is Mansfield, Quebec.