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|[+] gardening for beginners » Safe containers? (Go to)||William Bronson|
Yes, I've read that one. That's the article I referenced when it said they looked and the plastic flower pot they bought was a type of plastic not considered food safe. I know they basically have it come down to it's probably all fine because it's low doses but it didn't reassure me that much.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Safe containers? (Go to)||William Bronson|
Wondering what your thoughts are on safe containers for growing veggies. I'm super frugal but I'm always kind of reluctant to grow veggies in a lot of containers because of fear of toxins. Every time I research it, I find so much information about the nasty stuff plants take up in their roots from containers, but it doesn't seem to be addressed in any container gardening books I've read.
I read a post the other day about what plastics were safe to grow in and they listed the numbers that are food safe. They pointed out that they got a flower pot from a garden center and the number on the bottom was a type of plastic not considered safe for holding food. Most people would assume a flower pot would be safe for growing veggies. But even the food safe plastics don't strike me as very safe anyway, as plastic breaks down in heat.
And then I've read all these reports that grow bags and "cloth" grocery bags are made of a type of plastic and have tested positive for things like lead, not to mention a ton of nasty chemicals....
Plastic containers like kiddie pools have pthalates and such to make them bendable, not to mention all the stuff in plastic and in the coating and coloring. Even things like reused metal containers can have lead and aluminum. And obviously tires are full of all kinds of toxic stuff, but I see people growing veggies in those. And then some kinds of pallets have dangerous chemicals in them and you're supposed to look for numbers but I never know which numbers... It turns out those concrete blocks can have awful stuff in them if you don't know which types are safe, which I never realized at all. I know from following Lead Safe Mama that almost all dishes and containers (even expensive ones) are full of stuff like lead (mostly older and cheaper stuff) and cadmium (especially stuff with colors). And some wood is treated, and on and on.
I know I sound like a crackpot to most people when I say any of this. LOL But I figured this was a safer place to mention health concerns and ask questions.
Obviously I know fresh grown organic stuff is still healthy but I really don't want to grow plants that are taking up all kinds of nasty stuff from the things they're grown in. Our oldest child is a cancer survivor and I'm not one of those people who just says everything is bad for you so you might as well just give up.
What are your favorite frugal, safe containers?
|[+] gardening for beginners » Setting up large garden: mint invasion (Go to)||Lem Huang|
I have some bully mint too, but what I do is just treat it as a wonderful free volunteer and I cut it to the ground whenever I see it and use it. There are so many uses for mints that it's easy to make use of. Here are 30 great ways to use mint. It eventually gives up and just grows elsewhere for me.
PS If you have chocolate mint I found that I could transplant mine to a shade area and it became the most fabulous groundcover. It stays rather low and pretty, with dark leaves, and when you walk on it the entire yard smells heavenly. It spreads well even in shade but not in the aggressive way that other mints do. I have shared it with so many friends for problem shady areas of their yard.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Best veggie seeds for lazy gardeners? (Go to)||Christopher Weeks|
I always plant a garden but I have to admit I'm a very lazy gardener! I am much more fond of things like foraging where nature does most of the work, or permaculture gardening where it takes care of itself once I put in the initial effort.
That said, I do love having a garden every year. I've found that some plants grow and thrive even though I am not responsible about things like weeding, thinning and watering, and I never fertilize. Some of the plants I've had the best success with from seed this way are rainbow swiss chard (we get months of it all the way to hard freeze, just cut and come again), nasturtiums, radishes, peas and parsley. Other plants I know myself well enough to know I need to just buy seedlings, like tomatoes. Even when I successfully start them inside and have happy little plants a month later, somehow I always manage to lose them before they're big and tough enough to survive.
So what are your favorite lazy garden seeds to plant? Any tips to help them survive if they're direct seeded, other than to make sure to keep them watered the first couple of weeks?
|[+] gardening for beginners » Celery starting to regrow right in the kitchen compost bucket (Go to)||Angela Wilcox|
I was inspired to grow some veggies from scraps again this morning from the threads here! I've done it in the past but just hadn't lately. I went down and raided the kitchen compost bucket and found that a head of celery I had just trimmed yesterday was already sprouting and trying to make more. :) It was so freshly cut that the ends hadn't even browned, but it was already sending up new baby shoots. I properly rescued it and a few romaine lettuce stumps from last night to get back to making more free food. Thanks for the reminder, folks!
|[+] gardening for beginners » Geraniums as easy blooming houseplants (Go to)||May Lotito|
Just thought I'd share this here as some people don't realize geraniums are such easy houseplants. I bring ours inside every fall to overwinter in our zone 4 Minnesota home and they bloom all year long inside, at all different times. I purposely buy all different colors so I have hot pink, red, white, peach, variegated, etc. They don't require any additional fertilizer, grow lights or anything fiddly. I have them on window sills, tables, everywhere. They're inexpensive and they get pretty big when you are keeping them multiple years. You can also easily take cuttings and make even more. :)
Pictured are a couple of them I happen to have in a photo of my daughter. These ones aren't in bloom at the time the photo was taken but each of them blooms at least once a month for me. Once we're sufficiently warm I'll bring them outside again for the summer.
|[+] gear » Best modern Buy-it-once brands? (Go to)||R Scott|
I'm very frugal but I often spend more on something to get a well made product that should last a lifetime. My Vitamix is an example of that -- it cost more but I've had it for 12 years of rigorous use and it's still going strong, and the company has promptly fixed it the two times over the years that something did go wrong.
Lately I've noticed that a lot of the brands that used to be Buy-It-Once brands are now making their products in China and are just as poor quality as the cheap stuff, just getting by on the reputation they used to have. When we went to buy a new washing machine, the Maytag salesperson told me to expect a new Maytag washing machine to last 8 years, when they used to last decades (we found a good old one instead for less money and better quality). Fiscars used to have such good scissors and gardening tools, and the last two products I got from them were junk. I've heard the same about Craftsman tools, though I haven't bought any lately. I've noticed if you look at reviews, the ones from way back are great but the recent ones for so many products are the same thing -- the products from this company are nothing like they used to be.
So I'd love to hear your recommendations for companies that are still making quality products! Have you gotten any recently where you've been impressed by the materials and workmanship? Any modern purchases where they stood by their warranty and made it right when things went wrong, where the quality impressed you?
So far Vitamix is the only brand that's still impressing me, but my model is now 12 years old so I hope they are still as great as they were then. Any you'd add? TIA!
|[+] frugality » Nettle seasoning salt (Go to)||Denise Cares|
I do something similar with dried ramp leaves too, since they have such a strong garlic/onion flavor that's great for rice, eggs, potatoes, chicken, etc. And yes, you can do it with any wild greens. Nettles are just particularly healthy and this time of year especially it's nice to get that extra boost. :)
|[+] frugality » Nettle seasoning salt (Go to)||Denise Cares|
I thought I'd share this here since pretty much all of us either have a free supply of nettles on our properties or know where to easily find some. People consider nettles such a nuisance but they're so healthy. They're loaded with vitamins, minerals and health benefits for allergies, inflammation, blood sugar, prostate health, so much more -- far part most wild or cultivated plants.
We eat them cooked in season as a spinach substitute and use them for teas and infusions (I drank nettle infusions every day when I was battling C**** in early 2020), but I also make nettle seasoning salt as an easy way to get their benefits all winter. All I do is grind dried nettles and then mix them with some sea salt, dried garlic (can use dried ramps too) and pepper, then put them in a reused spice jar. I use them on chicken, fish, potatoes, rice, soups, stews, eggs, you name it.
The taste is very mild and it's a great way to boost the flavor and benefits of any dish.
|[+] meaningless drivel » Trying to quit Amazon - alternatives please (Go to)||Jesse Glessner|
Great thread! I try to avoid Amazon, Walmart and the other big businesses. We're in a rural area too but here are some things that work for us.
* We have a membership to Costco, which is an hour and a half for us but worth it for stocking up on organic staples for our big family.
* If I see something I like on Amazon, I search for the item on eBay to find an independent seller. They tend to sell the same things for the same prices and the shipping is generally just as fast if you click to only search US sellers. Since feedback is so crucial on eBay, sellers also tend to work hard to please you as opposed to Amazon where these days the sellers just rack up fake reviews and then create a new account once enough real (bad) reviews come in.
* We also buy from Misfits Market. We've been buying from them for about a year and for the most part I'm happy though the prices are higher lately and there are sometimes issues (for instance, in really cold weeks we've had damaged produce here in MN if it sat in a truck overnight and got frozen). They are quick to refund bad produce though, especially if you comment on their Facebook page in the comments (do that if you don't get a good resolution from just clicking on their site and they will move fast to make it right). I do not like their prices much lately on things like fruit but they have a lot of organic options and some seasonal things are very good prices for things like cabbage, zucchinis, daikon radishes, etc. and lots of things that you'd never find organic in the local stores here. They are also building their offerings into more than produce, with meat and seafood now (with a cold pack) and pantry items. Some of these are junk though and not organic, so check the individual listings. If you want to join and get $10 off your first order, here's my affiliate link: COOKWME-IG1HMU. It used to be that you had to build a box out of just lists of options, but now they let you just buy whatever you want and it's a flat $5.50 shipping fee as long as you meet the minimum order of $30.
* We have a membership to Thrive co-op, which is an online store for organic and natural foods. They sell shelf stable stuff and not produce, other than now you can also order frozen stuff if you meet a minimum of something like $100. I haven't bought frozen but I often shop there for other stuff like healthy mayo, natural toothpaste and cleaning supplies, supplements, organic snacks, mushroom powders, keto and organic baking supplies, organic cereal, etc. They cater to special diets like vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, keto, paleo, etc. too and you can even set the page to only show you things that meet your dietary requirements. They run fairly regular sales and offer things like this free expensive thing if you spend $49 today and stuff like that. All of their products are non-GMO and most are organic. Their prices tend to be fair, though not as cheap as buying in bulk. If you are low income, they'll waive the yearly fee (I think it's $50?). Here's my referral code if you want to join: http://thrv.me/pjfqyH. I order from them fairly regularly, but I do tend to shop their sales.
* I used to do Azure Standard but lately their prices have been increased and they're becoming a big business that's still trying to sell themselves as a small family business (they are still a family business, just a big one now). Until a couple of years ago we'd buy cases of organic apples from there for around $22 for 20 pounds every fall and they were great quality, plus things like bulk grains, organic cereal, etc. Now their apples are almost double the price and I can get almost everything cheaper elsewhere and still shop from ethical places. They deliver by truck once a month to most locations in the US but you have to go to the drop off point to pick up, which is a couple of hours away from us and often at a really inconvenient time. It can still be a good option, especially if you want to buy in bulk for things like baking supplies, natural cheese, vegan and vegetarian items, produce, etc. Here's my affiliate link for them: https://www.azurestandard.com/?a_aid=18c34Y8HiN
* We buy from local farms and farmers. We get our beef from a regenerative farm a couple of hours away, and got it when they did a "clear the freezer" sale. We get produce from a local farm. It's not organic but it's local and they don't spray much. We also shop the farmers' markets and such for the few organic vendors.
* We grow our own and forage. We forage a ton of wild mushrooms, apples and pears, wild asparagus, nettles, lambsquarters and other greens, elderberries, etc. It's a large part of our food source and my kids always gasp at the idea of buying asparagus at the store. :)
* If you have a buy nothing group in your area, they're awesome. Same with Freecycle.
* Put the word out when you need/want things. If you have any kind of social network like church newsletters or bulletin boards, friend groups, town FB group, etc. those are great for sharing want needs. I have friends who probably haven't bought hobby supplies in years for instance, because they'll post something like "anybody have perler beads they don't need? my daughter is looking for some" or "anyone know where I can find a bird cage?" and at least one friend is usually quick to post that they'll give them one they have sitting around.
* Craig's List is good for used, larger item things. We've found lots of great furniture through them.
Great thread! Thanks for starting it.
|[+] tiny house » Easy entrance steps/stairs? (Go to)||Nancy Reading|
Hi! I'm wondering if anybody has advice for installing outdoor steps/stairs for the entrance to our daughter's house. She bought a small house very inexpensively but it doesn't have steps to the front door anymore. It's about 2 feet up and we just launch ourselves up but I'd like to help her put some proper steps there. Money is tight and we don't have much experience with building. We've done small things together like installed laminate flooring and she and her ex redid the roof of the garage (he's a roofer and they're still good friends), so we can do some stuff but we're definitely newbies. :)
I've thought about wood, stone, concrete.... All of it seems pretty overwhelming, TBH. We love the look of stone but I don't know of a source around here for flat stones and it's pricey to buy them from places like Menards.
Any advice, oh wise ones? Thanks so much!
|[+] wild harvesting » Easy Acorn Flour Muffins (gluten free or wheat) (Go to)||Michael Littlejohn|
I'm so glad you liked them!
|[+] cooking » Sorrel - how to sneak it into meals without people noticing! Ideas needed. (Go to)||Jay Angler|
Our family loves nibbling wood sorrel for the lemony tang. We put it in salads or sandwiches or top soups with a sprinkle, but mostly we just nibble it outside. I put out a free non-profit nature/foraging magazine for kids and I featured wood sorrel in the March 2019 issue. It's here if anybody wants to read it or download it. It's in PDF form and you can read it online or save it and send it to your Kindle or just print it (I print it for my daughter each month so she can do the nature activity pages and such).
|[+] homestead » Best warm socks? (Go to)||Leigh Tate|
Thank you all for such good info and advice! I'm off to look at links. :)
|[+] homestead » Best warm socks? (Go to)||Leigh Tate|
I tried searching the forums but didn't see a topic about this. I'm looking for the warmest socks that folks recommend (especially from small and sustainable companies). We live in Minnesota and I have a blood condition that leads to poor circulation and painfully cold toes in the winter time. I frequently have to take scalding foot baths during the days just to warm them up, as they get so cold the pain distracts me from anything else and they turn white or purple. It also keeps me from enjoying winter sports like ice skating and sledding with my kids because my toes start to ache so quickly even with layers and good boots. Now I'm recovering from covid several months ago and even though it's summer I can't get my feet to stay warm even with socks on (this thing can affect your circulation, blood vessels, blood pressure and more for months). I am not looking forward to fall if my toes are this icy when it's 90! I'm also doing all I can to improve my circulation but it's not making a big difference. I'd love to hear recommendations for brands, materials, etc. of socks that work really well. TIA!
|[+] volunteer offerings » (currently closed) Recipe testers wanted for cookbook (can be anywhere) (Go to)||Bejo Lino|
I'd be interested in testing too. I tried to click on the link to read the rules but it said I didn't have access.
|[+] food choices » Perennial plant based diet (Go to)||Alicia Bayer|
We live in town but have a fair bit of perennials that we eat from our land.
asparagus (some on our land and lots that we forage and then freeze, up to 60 pounds a year)
lambsquarters (use it like spinach, in smoothies, soups, casseroles, etc.)
nettles (used in smoothies, soups and casseroles, also as tea during sickness -- we mostly forage these and get them from my daughter's yard)
elderberries and elderflowers (used for medicine but also baking, wines and liqueurs, elderberry lemonade, elderflower fritters, etc.)
acorns (we forage ours and I would also add that you typically need to soak for far longer than 24 hours to get rid of tannins or do the boiling water method)
mints and herbs
cherries (tree and bush)
greens of all kinds
maple sap and walnut sap
walnuts (from the streets in our neighborhood and parks)
apples for applesauce
pears for canned pears
some seeds, though they're not typically favorites and I usually just grind them and add them to gluten free flour mixes and crackers in small amounts
If you have access to cattails, they are great eating all seasons and different parts of the plant are good for different things. We particularly like the young bottoms of the shoots in early spring, simmered and then served with a bit of butter and salt.
If you're just talking veggies, our standards are greens, asparagus, wild onions and herbs. Acorns are a big part of our diet though, especially as they are so versatile (I have an acorn foraging book and cookbook that I've written, as we love them so much). We use acorns for everything from polenta to tortillas to cookies to porridge to veggie meatballs to pie crust to an utterly delicious hot drink (racahout, an acorn based drink, was the original hot chocolate). Fruits are other mainstays, especially elderberries (I have a foraging book and cookbook for elderberries and elderflowers too).
Despite having a yard full of hostas and daylilies, I've still not tried cooking those. I'm not sure why I can't get past the mental block but next year those are on the list to try.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Planting a fall garden in zone 4 (Go to)||S Greyzoll|
I'm a long-time gardener for spring and summer gardening and have quite a few perennial crops on our property, but I'd really like to plant a fall garden this year, especially as I missed out on some spring crops because we were sick this year. We're in zone 4 Minnesota and I know to look for really short season stuff at this point and for things that can take some frost.
Anybody experienced with planting fall gardens in similar climates who has favorite crops to plant? TIA!
|[+] online learning » Fantastic free 110-page rain garden resource (Go to)||Rachel Lindsay|
I stumbled onto this resource while researching nature study topics and wanted to pass it on. It's a free 110 page PDF on how to build rain gardens. It's designed for schools and organizations and goes into very precise detail with step by step plans, a glossary, pictures of all kinds of rain gardens (at the end), planning info and lots more. Here's the link.
Hope it helps someone!
|[+] gardening for beginners » Favorite easy ways to make garden beds? Here's mine using mulch and potatoes! (Go to)||Nicole Alderman|
I have never had success growing potatoes this way. I used to use grass and clippings, and I just didn't ever get much yield at all. Then I read a garden book this year that said it was so important to use soil if you want a good potato crop. I think if you're trying to make a new bed and will just be pleasantly surprised by a few potatoes, this is a great plan. I'm tired of sad potato results though and will use good garden soil for mine this year. I usually have great success with anything planted in our good Minnesota soil. We'll see what happens.
PS The best way I have established new beds is by putting kiddie pools in the yard for the kids to play in all summer. Come fall I put away the kiddie pool and underneath is a perfect circle of nothing but dirt. I plant there, edge it in large stones, and then keep making it bigger as the stones kill the sod underneath. With five kids and limited time, I have slowly converted much of our grass to permaculture gardens this way over the years. :)
|[+] writing » getting my book in the hands of one million people (Go to)||Beau Davidson|
Wow. That's a lot of money. To be frank, I'm a little worried for you. I have never used a publicist or agent, but I also haven't sold $9,000 worth of books (though I'm getting up there). My biggest advice would be to ask for proof that he's done this for other people. Who has he made moderately rich and famous with his services? Ask for some success stories and some references that you can contact. Otherwise, it just feels like this could be a really expensive lesson.
Here are some ways you can ask people to support you and help make this book successful without spending any of their own money. You have such a big following here that I would hope you could get some big responses along these lines even for people who can't donate cash. People who want to help can:
~ Sign onto Goodreads and make an account. Once there, either rate the book, better yet review the book, and possibly add the book to lists so people will see it when they're looking for related books (click on lists, and then search for topics like permaculture, etc.). It's also helpful to friend people there, because the more friends you have, the more people will see the books you've rated. That's not nearly as important as just getting the numbers up there and getting good quality reviews up there.
~ Ask your library to carry the book.
~ Post on social media about the book, with a direct link to it.
~ Review the book on Amazon.
~ Recommend the book to groups, websites, etc. with similar values. Always post a link when you do so. People are lazy. :)
~ If you can't buy the book but buy anything else on Amazon, click through one of Paul's links so he gets a commission and support him that way.
~ Share social media posts about the book. If you're on Twitter, Facebook, and especially FB groups about related topics, post about it. Also forward posts/ads about it.
Here's where a good social media post can really help. You can make them for free on Canva. There are templates and graphics to make it easy. Here's an example of a social media post that I made last week for a children's nature poetry book I just published with one of my children (she did the art).
Then ask people to share it, and share it yourself anywhere like-minded folks hang out. Be sure the post has relevant information and a call to action ("please share!" or "Ask your library to carry it!" and so on), with a link to buy the book (make it an affiliate link and say so, to increase profits). (Here's the post and what I wrote to accompany it on my author page).
You may also want to look into offering your book for review at NetGalley, where librarians, bloggers, booksellers and other reviewers access ARCs (advanced reader copies) for free in exchange for reviewing them on the site and on sites like book blogs, Goodreads and Amazon. That's also how many librarians and booksellers find out about new titles to order. NetGalley has become a rather important way of promoting books in today's market. It costs more money than I'm willing to pay ($400 or $500 maybe?) but at the scale you're looking to sell at, it could be a good move. That's probably one of the routes your publicist is planning on going.
I have never paid for advertising, but that could also be helpful for the numbers you want. Sponsored books on Amazon seem to do well and start at a very low cost. The way it works is that it suggests it to people who search for similar books or search words.
I have never used a publicist or agent and have only used word of mouth and this sort of thing but I have sold quite a few books (my elderberry book is by far the best seller, though my acorn foraging book and nature study books also do fairly well). Part of that also is because I do a lot to help people online for free with my free nature magazine, foraging help, blogs, etc. and so people tend to want to support me. You have that going in spades, which can really help. I realize you are looking for much bigger numbers of sales than my little books, but I hope that's some help. I would be happy to create a social media post like mine for you at no charge if you want to email me and give me a basic outline of what you'd want on it. I believe strongly in helping others for free, which is probably why I am not the type to hire a publicist and balk at anybody charging you that much. :) It may be a smart move, but I wouldn't count out word of mouth and karma in helping to bring good sales your way at much less cost.
Good luck either way!
|[+] forest garden » Map/Notes for Collecting Free Seeds and Wild Edibles from Native/Wild Plants (Go to)||Alicia Bayer|
My husband uses Google maps to map foraging spots too, and he has it color coded and by season, too. He wrote a blog post about his system on our family foraging and green living blog here.
He has a pretty easy system that works really well and has added a lot more wild edibles since then that might be hard to keep track of otherwise, so we know where there's a great site for wild asparagus in May or where to find wild grapes in late summer, etc.
I personally try to stay away from Google these days, but I'm a cranky old thing. ;)
|[+] kids » Free nature magazine for kids and their grown ups (Go to)||Emilie Thomas-Anderson|
I don't think I've ever posted this here and I'm not sure why, but I wanted to pass this on in case anybody found it helpful.
Starting in January of 2019 I've been putting out an ad-free nature magazine online for kids.
It's in PDF form and can be read online or printed out. It's usually about 16 pages and has information for kids (and their grown ups) about foraging, fun things to do outside, ways to help the environment, etc. Each month has two botanical coloring pages from Elizabeth Blackwell, a fantastic artist who created some of the best botanical illustrations ever done as a way to free her husband from debtor's prison a couple of hundred+ years ago (I teach about her in the first issue). There are also seasonal nature poems, weather trees (color in a leaf for each day to keep track of the day's weather), foraging record keeping pages, nature study records and more.
I have tried to include information for folks in the Southern hemisphere but I must admit there is a slant towards foraging and nature study in the Northern hemisphere as I live in Minnesota and I'm just not as familiar with foraging in places like Australia as the U.S. I have included some and have tried to make it useful for all though.
Here are a few of the covers from past magazines.
And here is this month's magazine.
You can view them all on the Wild Kids website and download them or read them there. You don't have to sign up for anything or do anything at all to download it. It's just a project I do to try to do some good in the world.
I have not decided if I'm going to continue into 2020. I originally committed to doing one year and said I'd take it from there. My family is encouraging me to stop as it's a lot of time every month and we have a busy life with 4 kids still at home, and it costs money as so many people download it that our little website charges us an overage fee. But I believe strongly in this subject and it's a bit of a "Miss Rumphius" project of mine (in the picture book Miss Rumphius, an elderly lady spreads lupines all through the countryside because her grandfather has taught her that we all must find something to do to make the world more beautiful).
In any case, I'm strongly leaning towards continuing it into the new year and thought folks here might like the magazine or know a child in their lives who might. Feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might benefit, and if you'd ever like to contribute any content (or know a child who would -- my kids have written some of the content) feel free to do that too!
|[+] books » Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop (Go to)||Nicole Alderman|
Here's another tip for boosting the book via Goodreads if you have an account there. I haven't read it yet but I clicked on "want to read" and so that was posted in the update feed of all 160 or so of my friends. Just like you have a feed on Facebook or Twitter, you have a news feed on your home page as a Goodreads member that says X just reviewed X book, X rated X book, X wants to read X book and so on. That's a really great way to get books noticed, just asking folks to click on it to say they want to read it, because others see the book title and will very frequently click on it to see what it's about and then add it to their own "want to read list" -- which then sends an an announcement to all of their friends and so on. It's basically free advertising.
Also, if anybody else is a member there I'd love to connect as friends. This is my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16317001.Alicia_Bayer but it is showing my author profile and I'm not sure how to just click to add me as a friend instead of following me as an author. If you'd like to be friends, please post your profile link. I would love more Permies friends. :)
|[+] frugality » Cheap Destemmer (Go to)||Susan Mené|
Great idea! I do something similar to de-stem herbs and foraged greens like lambs quarters for smaller plants -- I use a colander and just pull them through. :)
|[+] medicinal herbs » Elderberry toxicity and tinctures (Go to)||Janice Foss|
It depends on what I'm using them for. If I'm using elderberries for medicinal purposes or baking, yes (if you have enough of them you can even pickle them as capers). If I'm using them for jellies or jams where the pectin in the occasional green berries will help them set and there aren't many, then I dump them in. You may be harvesting too early if you have green berries though. There are generally different stages of ripeness on a cluster, but you want most of them to be a nice deep purplish-black and by that stage then even the less ripe ones should be nice and purple. If you're harvesting early because you only have access to a few and are fighting the birds for them, that might be the best bet. I'd look for bigger patches where you can afford to wait until they're really ripe though for maximum medicinal value (and best taste). :)
|[+] medicinal herbs » Elderberry toxicity and tinctures (Go to)||Janice Foss|
It should be noted that you hear a lot about how toxic other parts of elder are, but there is only one official case of food poisoning by elderberry in US history and that was with a group of people who gathered large amounts of elderberries, stems, branches and leaves and crushed them into a juice that they then served raw during a multi-day religious gathering in the California mountains many years ago. Even in that case (where some folks were hospitalized) everybody fully recovered very quickly.
The reports that I've read of stomach aches and diarrhea have dealt with the berries, not other parts. You absolutely can get stomach aches and diarrhea from eating raw elderberries. You also may not, but I personally wouldn't chance it since raw elderberries don't taste that great anyway and the best ways to use them are other ways. There are also anecdotal stories of children who got sick making pea shooters out of hollowed elderberry sticks, though they have also been used traditionally for flutes for many years after they were dried. I've never found a confirmed case of anybody being sickened by using elder branches in this way but stories from "the old days" are plentiful.
You also hear a lot about the toxicity of red elderberries. The USDA warns not to eat *raw* red elderberries, but they were traditionally used as both food and medicine for some Native American tribes. There are some folks online who have experimented with making things like red elderberry fruit leather but the main drawback of red elderberry is that it just doesn't taste good. But yes, even more caution should be taken not to eat those raw.
You do not need to worry about tiny bits of stem that are in your elderberries if you'll be cooking them or using them in tinctures. It is nearly impossible to get every tiny bit and it's not necessary. People have been cooking elderberry pies and making elderberry syrup, tincture, wine, etc. for centuries and it is generally accepted that there will be some tiny bits of stem in elderberries you use for cooking, wine making, medicine or other uses. Even dried elderberries from respected herbal companies like Mountain Rose Herbs will contain small bits of stem. This is fine.
You hear a lot that the best way to de-stem elderberries is to freeze them and then knock off the berries. We've found that this results in more stems (and mess) in your berries. We have the best results simply raking them with a fork or even wide mouthed comb (see the photo below of our youngest daughter, Fiona, using a fork to destem elderberries a few years ago). We then spread them on a cookie sheet and give it a little shake to spread them evenly, and press a finger onto the bits of stem on the cookie sheet to lift them up and get them out. Tiny bits of stem are left unless we're making pies of muffins, in which case I work at it a bit longer just for aesthetic reasons (nobody wants a chunk of elderberry stem in their pie). Flash freeze on cookie sheets for a few hours and then bag them up if you're using them for baking, so you have single frozen elderberries that are easy to scoop out. When you bag them up, you can do another little shake and more stems will have stuck to the pan. When making juice (covered in water and simmered and strained), you can worry less about bits of stem. There are many ways to dry them (too many to list right now) but again, just remove the larger bits of stem.
I got into more detail about elderberry toxicity and ways of preserving (freezing, drying, dehydrating, canning, juicing, etc.) and de-stemming them in my elderberry book (affiliate link), along with 70+ recipes for medicinal remedies, baked goods, wine and liqueurs, jellies, desserts, etc. for elderberries and elder flowers. But the bottom line is that you don't have to overly worry about tiny bits of stem. :)
|[+] medicinal herbs » Three Ways to Use Elderberries & Elderflowers to Ward Off Sickness (Besides Elderberry Syrup) (Go to)||Alicia Bayer|
You're one of the lucky ones! There are a large number of people who can consume elderberries raw without adverse effects (maybe as many as 1/3 of the population?). Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing whether you're one of the lucky ones without trying it. For most folks, raw elderberries cause pretty significant discomfort -- stomach cramping, diarrhea and misery that can last for days. Some native tribes used elderberry carefully as a remedy for constipation for this reason. The rest of the shrub is more toxic (stems, leaves, etc.) but you're best off not eating them raw in any case.
Also, raw elderberries just don't taste nearly as good as cooked or as good as other wild berries that you can eat raw. Elderberries are absolutely delicious in lots of cooked recipe (especially with the presence of lemon, which not only makes their flavor pop in a wonderful way but also makes whatever you're cooking turn red, magenta or hot pink since elderberries are also pH indicators).
Here's my recipe for elderberry lemonade concentrate and an example of a naturally carbonated elderberry lemon soda I made last year of some that I lightly fermented with some wild elderflower yeast to show how fun these little beauties are for recipes besides health remedies, too.
I highly recommend using them for your medicinal remedies, baked goods, drinks, etc. instead of taking any chances on eating them raw. :)
|[+] cooking » Is anybody else making their own pasta? (Go to)||greg mosser|
Love this thread! We've made our own pasta for years, especially as we're gluten free and frugal and I find it's the best way to cook for a crowd and make it healthy and affordable.
Our most recent experiment was making ramp pasta with wild ramps. My youngest daughter, Fiona, helped make it and had fun rolling and cutting it. It was potent but delicious. I have photos and the recipe in a slide show on our Instagram account here. I imagine I'll put the recipe up on our family foraging/sustainable living blog when I get a free minute, too. I had forgotten to do that. :)
|[+] medicinal herbs » Elderberry toxicity and tinctures (Go to)||Janice Foss|
I have written a book on foraging and using elderberries (Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks & More, and did extensive research on this topic. The seeds are mildly toxic but that's if they're ingested or (to a lesser extent) crushed. Toxicity is removed by cooking or even fermenting, and it is negligent in preparations that are made without the seeds like tinctures, liqueurs, or making stovetop elderberry juice where the seeds are strained out for the final product. The way I advocate making elderberry juice is similar to how you'd process wild grapes -- cover with water and simmer, then lightly mash and strain. Lab studies have even shown that fermenting gets rid of negative effects of the seeds, too. I'll see if I can find the study if you like.
High heat destroys many of the most beneficial properties of elderberries. Even moderate heat does to a lesser extent. You get the most anti-viral and medicinal effect through alcohol tinctures. You can also make an oxymel (vinegar based tincture) that is less effective but alcohol-free. When I make elderberry syrup I do it at a very low simmer. I find that elderberry tincture is the most powerful of the remedies we make, but elderberry syrup is also wonderful and great for kids.
Hope that helps.
|[+] medicinal herbs » Stinging Nettle and Pineapple Smoothies (Go to)||Joy Oasis|
I wasn't sure whether to post this on this forum or in the wilderness one since it's foraged nettles. It's also vegan and paleo, so it checks a lot of boxes. ;) In any case, I thought I'd share this super simple, really tasty and healthy recipe that my kids and I love.
I posted the recipe to our foraging/homesteading blog today here but thought folks here might also find it useful.
We try to use nettles a lot around here since they’re so healthy, so tasty and grow so plentifully all around us. One of the kids’ favorite ways to enjoy nettles are in smoothies. Yes, really!
You probably know how healthy stinging nettles are for you, but most folks don’t realize you can use them in smoothies without worrying about the sting.
You can effectively eliminate the sting of stinging nettles by either cooking or thoroughly blending them. Drying nettles removes most of their sting too, but I’ve had an occasional tiny sting from dried nettles that weren’t fully crushed or chopped. They’re still worth it that way for the wonderful tea they make though.
Here’s all you need for pineapple nettle smoothies:
Frozen pineapple chunks
Fresh, washed stinging nettle leaves and/or tops
Use the amounts that suit your taste. We do slightly more pineapple than nettle for the kids, with enough water to make a typically slushy consistency.
Be sure to use a powerful blender that can handle the frozen pineapple (I use a discounted Vitamix that I bought reconditioned 8 years ago and use nearly daily for things like green smoothies, soups, dips and for grinding grains for gluten free flours).
You can also use wood nettle for this (which many people mistakenly think is stinging nettle and also has a light sting) or you can use other mild-tasting wild greens like lambsquarters. Feel free to throw in a handful of fresh wood sorrel for its lemony zing and high vitamin C content too!
I included some links and more information about why stinging nettle is such a great plant on the blog post, too.
|[+] wild harvesting » has anyone here sucessfully used stinging nettles for cheese making? (Go to)||James Yuriev|
I have a wonderful wild edible recipe book from a lady in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the author talks about her many failed attempts at doing this. She wrote that she wonders if it varies by region whether it will work. She even enlisted professional help in trying to make it work. I can't remember if it was a lab or professional cheese company or what it was. I'll try to find the book. I have an extensive foraging library and tend to have them all over the house. :)
I'm curious if anybody has actually personally made it work? I'd love to do it too.
|[+] books » Trees of Power: Ten Essential Arboreal Allies by Akiva Silver (Go to)||Leigh Tate|
Akiva Silver's Trees of Power offers an inspirational look at how the trees that are all around us can provide us with untapped income, food and more. It is a deep dive into the world of a guy who lives for trees, raising and selling thousands a year and foraging from many more.
Silver shows how the ten trees featured are phenomenally good for homesteaders and for the world at large. For example, he writes that hickory nuts produce a delicious oil that we could easily be using for cooking, and the nuts are just rotting at our feet by the billions. An expensive nut press is needed to make the oil but he points out that every town used to have a mill and a press and people would just bring their crops to use it. That really makes sense. Everyone doesn’t need a press, just communities or cooperatives.
He says, “Everyone I have offered a taste of the oil to looks up at me in surprise and says something like: ‘Wow’ or ‘Oh my God.'”
The ten trees featured in Trees of Power are:
Chestnut: The Bread Tree
Apples: The Magnetic Center
Poplar: The Homemaker
Ash: Maker of Wood
Mulberry: The Giving Tree
Elderberry: The Caretaker
Hickory: Pillars of Life
Hazelnut: The Provider
Black Locust: The Restoration Tree
Beech: The Root Runner
Trees of Power fills an urgent need for up-to-date information on some of our most important tree species, those that have multiple benefits for humans, animals, and nature. It also provides inspiration for new generations of tree stewards and caretakers who will not only benefit themselves, but leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Trees of Power is for everyone who wants to connect with trees. It is for the survivalist, the gardener, the homesteader, the forager, the permaculturist, the environmentalist, the parent, the schoolteacher, the farmer, and anyone who feels a deep kinship with these magnificent beings.
About the Author
Akiva Silver owns and operates Twisted Tree Farm, a homestead, nut orchard, and nursery located in Spencer, New York, where he grows around 20,000 trees per year using practices that go beyond organic. His background is in foraging, wilderness survival, and primitive skills. He has been observing nature intensively for the last 20 years, cultivating a deep appreciation for life. Akiva lives on his farm with his wife and three young children.
Where to get it
Chelsea Green Publishing
Podcast 097 – The Man Who Planted Trees
Permies Trees Forum
Twisted Tree Farm
Twisted Tree Farm YouTube channel
Article at Kosmos by Akiva Silver
Akiva Silver on Partnering with trees
|[+] gear » Easy DIY fruit picker (Go to)||Xisca Nicolas|
We harvest a lot of fruits like apples and pears, but most of the trees are a lot taller than we are and we didn't want to fork over the money for fruit pickers. My husband did some research and found some good ways to DIY.
There are many different ways to make them. Here are the best ones we've found.
If you like the wire cage version, you can just buy the head on Amazon (affiliate link) for about $10 and stick it on the handle of your choice.
A similar version is the pop bottle picker. It's very easy to make and assemble.
You can make a small fruit picker from a piece of PVC pipe, cut and shaped. This takes some skill and the proper tools.
Some people like the hoop and bag style, with a bag for collecting as much fruit as possible before you have to bring it down.
We decided to make the pop bottle picker, because it was free and simple. Our son is holding our first two pickers in the picture below.
We used 24 ounce bottles and mine had an old broom handle and duct tape holding it all together. My son's used a piece of bamboo for the handle, and his was just as successful. We've used them to pick apples, crab apples, plums, pears, and hawthorns with no signs of it working loose. Today there were some pears that were still out of reach, so we lashed the two sticks together and kept on going. It worked great. It's not quite big enough for larger apples, but all we need for those is a 1.5 liter bottle. Cut it and tape it on, and we're good to go.
If the fruit seems to be consistently out of reach, you may want a telescoping handle (affiliate link). We have one that came with a broom, and it extends out to about 10' long. With my husband's and oldest son's height, that's about 18' of wild fruit we can reach (less for me and the younger kids).
We now have a bunch of these and we make quick work of fruit trees with the kids.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Planting Perennial Vegetables on Your Homestead (Go to)||Carmen Rose|
We have a fair number of perennial fruits and veggies in our yard. We also forage quite a lot and let nature provide them. :) You mention waterleaf. We have spotted waterleaf here but I really dislike the taste of that. I love just about every green and veggie other than the really bitter ones like late dandelion greens, but I just wasn't a fan. Maybe spotted waterleaf tastes different from your variety?
In any case, some of the perennial veggies (and fruits) we grow are:
Chocolate mint (a lovely groundcover that does well in shade and smells delicious when you step on it!)
We also enjoy a lot of self-seeding weeds that are just as tasty as anything you can plant. Among those are:
Also keep in mind that a lot of decorative garden perennials are also edible, such as hostas. I know this but I can't ever bring myself to harvest and cook up the pretty leaves. :) Maybe this year....
|[+] science and research » looking for cancer research: cancer rates from 1860 to now (Go to)||Rolf Olsson|
It's also important to note that we're doing cancer screenings these days that will detect cancer that most of us would outlive and never even be aware of otherwise. Our bodies are filled with slow growing cancers at any given time. Many of them will be destroyed by our own immune systems eventually and many of them would never harm us in a typical life span. Colonoscopies are an example of a screening that is leading to hundreds of thousands of new cancer discoveries a year, but most of those people would have never died of colon cancer and probably would have lived the rest of their lives not even knowing they were affected. My MIL has small vaginal cancer polyps removed about once a year at the Mayo, which is an extremely painful and worrisome process for her. In the old days, I think she would have just assumed they were small lumps that were part of aging. She is in her 80's and now dealing with Alzheimer's, so those extremely slow growing little lumps could just be left alone in my opinion. I read once that all men will eventually develop prostate cancer if they live long enough, but it will almost never kill them (or really harm them).
Cancer diagnosis and treatment is a multi-billion dollar business.
And of course most cancer deaths in the "old days" would have been listed as other causes, and lots of folks were likely to be struck down by something else first even if they did have cancer.
I have no doubt there are much higher cancer rates these days, but the numbers can't be trusted in any era -- including our own.
|[+] pep » foraging badge brainstorming (Go to)||paul wheaton|
This thread caught my eye as our family forages extensively. I don't understand precisely how the badges work but I'll offer up what my hubby, kids and I have done as examples of possible things that could make the list. We do not hunt, fish, trap or "forage" for animal products (other than bones, which I don't consider foraging but we do collect), so I'd be ineligible if it relied on those.
In 2018, we:
Foraged at least 35 different types of wild edible and medicinal foods, totaling several hundred pounds (here's our list: Our 2018 Foraging Wrap-Up
Used wild plants extensively for medicinal purposes (like making elderberry syrup to cure the flu, elderflower tea for coughs, plantain for wasp stings, etc.)
Preserved wild foods by canning, freezing and drying.
Made several gallons of country wine with foraged ingredients.
Made many, many dinners with wild food ingredients (often every day, and at least once a week in the winter)
Taught 7 free foraging classes in communities (3 on elderberries and 4 on foraging acorns), along with helping various individuals who asked for help learning more, and sharing information about foraging often on my Facebook pages like All Natural Family and my author page, along with on my Instagram page.
Wrote blog posts about foraging topics such as how to cook wild foods, what foods are in season for various months, etc.
Read and reviewed (on Goodreads) 12 foraging books about foraging plants for food, drinks, and dyes.
Created and posted recipes for dishes that use foraged wild foods.
Foraged 11 new-to-us wild plants.
I also now put out a free nonprofit monthly printable nature magazine for kids and their grown ups that teaches foraging in every issue. You can find all the issues so far here: Wild Kids Magazine
I've also written two foraging books: Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks & More and Acorn Foraging: Everything You Need to Know to Harvest One of Autumn’s Best Wild Edible Foods, with Recipes, Photographs and Step-By-Step Instructions (affiliate links) and I'm helping my youngest two kids write foraging books for kids by kids now.
I hope I'd qualify for a badge. I'm not sure what you do with one, but it sounds fun. :)
|[+] home care » dusting blinds (Go to)||Rufus Laggren|
We haven't had blinds for years but I found the easiest thing for me to do sometimes back then was to just put them in the bathtub and shower them off. I did want to point out that older vinyl blinds (from the 90's and older) were found to be a dangerous lead risk, especially for children. The lead in them broke down and became part of the dust and then became airborne. Here are a couple of articles about the risks with more information.
Information adapted from “Questions & Answers About Lead in Vinyl Mini Blinds”, California Department of Health Services, ChildhoodLead Poisoning Prevention Branch, July, 1996.
And from Reader's Digest:
I am concerned that my venetian blinds may contain lead. How can I be sure that the blinds do not contain lead?
The blinds that you are referring to are cheaply made plastic blinds that contain lead as a stabilizing agent. After the blinds have been in the sun for a long time, the lead in the blinds breaks down and turns into dust. If the dust is touched, it can make its way into the body. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. Lead can cause brain damage and other serious problems, so it is very important to make sure that you do not own blinds that contain lead. There are government publications that provide informative instruction on what types of blinds (and other household items) are dangerous. If you are worried that your blinds contain lead, you can buy a product called a lead tester. It is a 7.5 cm (3 in.) tube with a short, bristled end. Squeeze the tube, which secretes a yellow liquid, onto the surface of the blind. After mixing it over the surface with the bristled end, watch to see if the color of the surface turns red. If it does, then the blind contains lead. If it does not turn red, then the blind is lead-free. The gadget is easy to use and not very expensive.
|[+] fruit trees » Fruit Trees and Berries that Grow Best in Your Area Naturally- Continental Climate Hardiness Zone 4 (Go to)||Cécile Stelzer Johnson|
I'm in SW Minnesota, zone 4.
Perennial fruits that we grow in our yard and garden include:
Nanking cherry (bushes)
black raspberries (brambles)
Fruits that we forage in our area include:
Rhubarb (at abandoned properties or local homes that don't harvest theirs, with permission)
If you're interested, you can see a list of all of the wild plants we foraged in 2018 and some photos of some of the fruits here: Our 2018 Foraging Wrap-Up or check out a typical summer month's foraging with photos and information about how we use them here: Our June Foraging Wrap-Up.
|[+] berries » Elderberry Schnapps Recipe (Go to)||Alicia Bayer|
Yeah, I like to take an occasional shot and just call it medicinal. :) It is not that different from elderberry tincture, after all. This time of year we always have elderberry syrup in the fridge, too, and the kids and I do a morning spoonful of that.
And yes, it makes a really nice gift. It's potent though. You can dilute the recipe with simple syrup (dissolved sugar in water) to make a milder, sweeter elderberry liqueur that's nice for sipping straight.