A simple meal.

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Last evening’s supper was grass fed beef with common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis), red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (Trifolium repens), cleavers (Gallium aparine), catnip (Nepeta cataria), bee balm (Monarda didyma), violet (Viola spp.), mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), and common chickweed (Stellaria media) cooked over the fire.

Before anyone freaks out that I harvested milkweed, and did not leave it for the butterflies, I should say that I harvested it from an area of my neighbors field that gets mowed regularly. There is a nice stand of it that they don’t mow right next to it.

Everything was cooked over the fire, but I did boil the milkweed in advance.

I am not exactly a very good cook, but you can’t go wrong with foraged greens over the fire.

Thanks for reading,

Nate

Invasives in the garden.

Checked in on my feral garden today and found a couple of invasive and weedy plants. No problem, with all the rain here recently, it was easy to pull them as young plants, and put them to use.

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1st a found a few baby mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata) plants. Many people hate this plant, and I can see why, it does climb over everything and has recurved thorns. That being said, I have been a lot bigger fan of the plant ever since a friend mentioned that it is edible.

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Of course later in the year, when it is tough and covered in thorns, you only want to eat the young leaves, but when they 1st emerge you can eat the whole above ground part of the plant. They have a nice lemony taste. I pulled them, discarding the roots and eating the tops.

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The other species that I found was Asiatic dayflower (Commelina communis). It is considered invasive by some people, but to me it seems more weedy, just growing in disturbed areas. Anyway, I let a lot of it grow in my garden, because it is beautiful in flower, and because it is a great edible. The ones I found sprouting today were in an area where I am trying to grow turnip rooted parsley from seed, so I don’t want the competition from the Asiatic dayflower. I pulled the ones I found, and transplanted them to another area, where they can still provide food, but not be in the way of my parsley.

Here is a sample profile of Asiatic dayflower from my dvd.

 

Thanks for reading,

Nate

 

A Simple Meal with Spring Greens.

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I’m not much of a cook, but this time of year it is easy to make great dishes that use weeds. Today’s lunch was gluten free pasta and grass fed beef, with stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), common chickweed (Stellaria media), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), broadleaf plantain (Plantago major), violet (Viola spp.), cleavers (Gallium aparine), bee balm (Monarda didyma), red clover (Trifolium pratense), field garlic (Allium vineale), and broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius).

All the greens where harvested within a 2 minute walk of our house. Most of them were growing within 30 feet of the door. I may never get to the place where I can eat only wild food, but who cares when it is so easy to a a little diversity to our diet.

Thanks for reading,

Nate

 

Morels in the Snow?

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This morning I awoke to snow. Large flakes falling heavy on an April morning. My 1st thought was, hmm, I have never found morels in the snow before. So I got ready, and headed over to my favorite morel spot (the same one I wrote about here). The path to my spot was beautiful.

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When I got to my spot, I saw that most of it was too covered in snow, but a few of the prime areas were more clear, because they were protected by a pine and some shrubs. Right away I found the one above. As I mentioned last time, I like to leave the 1st one, so I kept looking.

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It took me a while, but found one in slightly more snow.

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I picked it, and scanned the surrounding area.

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I ended up only harvesting two. Not exactly a lot of food, but as I had expected, finding morels in the snow was a magical feeling.

Thanks for reading,

Nate

 

Approaching Plants, Spring Class.

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Approaching Plants:
In this class we will discuss how to approach plants in our local ecosystems, as well as gain hands on experience foraging and more.

There is a heavy emphasis on edible wild plants,
but other topics covered include sustainable/regenerative harvest, simple wooden tools, how plants can be the foundation of both nature connection and rewilding, and how plants can teach us to read the landscape.

When: Saturday May 14 from 10-2.

Where: Millport Conservancy, 737 E Millport RD, Lititz, PA

What to bring:
Weather appropriate clothing, shoes you don’t mind getting muddy, water, and a packed lunch.

This is an in depth class, but is meant for both beginners and intermediate students. If you are more interested in a shorter plant walk, contact me to book one.

The class is $35 but no one will be turned away for financial reasons.

PLEASE REGISTER by using the Paypal button at the bottom of the page. or by contacting me at nathanrupley@yahoo.com if you need an alternate payment method or sliding scale.

Thanks,

Nate


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1st Morels of 2016.

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Yesterday my kids and I went to the creek/woods where I have my morel spots. It is earlier in the season than I usually find them, but I tend to go on the later end of the season. We went to my best spot, and I looked around while the kids played. After a couple minutes, I spotted the one pictured above. Part of being a forager is being a good caretaker, so I generally leave the 1st one, and harvest moderately after that. It took me a little while, but I found and picked the one bellow.

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After that, all I managed to find was one more little one that was just emerging from under the leaf littler. I left it to grow, but am hoping there will be more popping soon.

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While we were at the creek, I figured it would be nice to return the favor of all the wild food we pick there, so we gathered some litter on our way back to the car.

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We collected a grocery bag full in no time. We will need to go back soon, this time with full size trash bags. It is always important to try to find ways to have a reciprocal relationship with the places we gather. Some times it feels overwhelming, but every little bit makes a difference.

Thanks for reading,

Nate

Moss Art.

Recently I have been posting a lot of book reviews, and plan to post many more, but I just wanted to share a few photos of moss that I took yesterday. While I love foraging, I am an artist at heart, and have been increasingly learning to slow down and observe all the tiny details of the world around me. I’m considering a book of my nature photography, but not sure. Anyway, enjoy these pics.
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Thanks for reading,
Nate

Book Review: Tracks and Sign of Insects.

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Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney

Stackpole Books 2010

This Book is part of a series, including books on the tracks and sign of Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles and Amphibians. All the books in this series are top notch, but this one is both, in my personal opinion, the most well put together and the most fascinating topic.

I have obviously focused pretty heavily on plants, but have always wanted to get into tracking animals. Unfortunately when I tried reading tracking books, the information just didn’t seem to sink in. Fortunately, this book changed all that. As someone with an interest in plants, this was a bridge into the animal kingdom. Many of the traces that insects leave are on plants, and many of them specialize on certain plants. When I got the book, all of a sudden a whole new world opened up to me. I have been looking at both plants and insects differently ever since.

Anyway, Tracks and Sign of insects covers a great selection of bugs and has many detailed photos of their impacts on the world they live in. It is a great companion to the book Garden Insects of North America.

Charley Eiseman also has a blog called Bug Tracks that is worth checking out.

Thanks for reading,

Nate

 

Book Review: Edible Wild Plants,wild foods from dirt to plate.

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Edible Wild Plants, wild foods from dirt to plate by John Kallas.
Gibbs Smith 2010

This is an excellent book. While I slightly prefer Sam Thayer’s approach if you are looking to learn weedy greens of back yards and disturbed areas, this is your book.

Before I get into the contents of the book, I just want to get my one major complaint out of the way. The title. I recommend this book to a lot of people, but the title makes that a little harder. There are a lot of books called “Edible Wild Plants” and most of them I would not recommend. Ok, but it does have the subheading “Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate”. Sure, that does distinguish it from the others, but it is a mouthful, and I wish it clarified that this book focuses specifically on weeds.

Oh well, with that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. Why do I recommend this book so much? Because of the detail and the quality. The photos, plant descriptions, stages of plant growth, harvesting techniques, cooking instructions, and nutritional information all have as much if not more detail than any other foraging book I have read.

The photos deserve special mention. They are large, clear, and Kallas includes each major stage of the plant’s growth. This is not something that is covered in most foraging books, but I believe it is extremely important.

Anyway, whether a beginner, intermediate, or advanced forager, if you are looking to deepen your relationship with the wild plants of human areas, than you cannot do better than this. I eagerly await Kallas’ next book!

Thanks for reading,

Nate