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.
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.
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!
Sam Thayer is my favorite foraging author, and so far, this is my favorite of his books. That is no insult to his other book, The Forager’s Harvest. This one just happens to have plants that are more common and widespread. I recommend Nature’s Garden for beginners because it lays down such a great foundation of knowledge, is accessibly written, and also covers each plant in so much detail. I also recommend it for advanced and intermediate foragers, because it corrects a lot of myths that have been repeated in many other foraging books, and because it helped me to move beyond just foraging, to wanting to learn about how people, plants, and other organisms all interact.
Nature’s Garden has a great line up of plants, but it would be worth the price of the book for the 50 page chapter on acorns alone.
The book starts out with introductory chapters that encourage best practices in plant ID, and put foraging in context. After that, each of the chapters features a different plant. They begin with a quick story from Sam’s life, then proceed to cover all aspects needed to confidently learn how to interact with the plant.
A true gem, the only complaint I have heard are that is doesn’t cover as many plants as some books, but this is a situation where quality is more important than quantity.
It is finally that time of year again. Early spring plants are prime for eating. This evening we had some friends over, and I cooked a pan full of chickweed (Stellaria media), cleavers (Gallium aparine), hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius), field garlic (Allium vineale) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). All of them were harvested from around the edge of the yard. What an amazing time of abundance!
Time is flying, can’t believe March is already here, and the first signs of spring are popping up everywhere.
Here are a few Updates about my 2016 Foraging/Rewilding Course. See here for full details.
I am excited to announce that William Padilla Brown and Jonathan Darby will be guest/co-teachers for the course. Both bring a wide range on knowledge. William has a wealth of knowledge on mushrooms, and Jonathan adds years of foraging experience, and a deep understanding of the intersection of Permaculture and rewilding.
I am extending the deadline for registration until March 12th. Please either have payment in by then, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a payment plan or a sliding scale. Quite a few people have already registered, but I don’t want anyone to miss out.
Make a payment bellow, or email me for alternatives.