forage

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Recently, I came across a post warning against storing your herbs in glass jars. “They will mold,” it claimed. I reblogged it, with my owns comments on the subject, explaining to others that simply is not the case.

If you have done the homework on the plants you are gathering, learned how each plant needs to be dried, and followed the proper steps, storing your herbs in glass jars will not make them mold. 

*Herbs in the store can be purchased in glass jars.* 

*Herbs have been stored in glass jars for hundreds of years.*

This is a small sample of my larder, all my herbs are carefully air-dried, and stored in glass jars. (Some are in plastic bags, as I ran out of jars!) None have ever molded.

My point is, don’t believe every post you come across, but read up on the subject, and educate yourself well. It’s disappointing to see misinformation being passed around as fact, when in truth, it is not. 

  • Some leaves and flowers will need to be air-dried for 3-5 days.
  • Some leaves and plants need to be dried for 7-14 days.
  • Some flowers, (like lilacs) along with any member of the pine/evergreen family will require 3 weeks or more to dry.
  • Some plants with stems attached may need to be dried for 14-21 days, maybe even longer.
  • Air-drying maintains the colour, as well as essential oils/benefits of the plants the best, where oven drying can reduce them, and turns the plants brown.
  • Oven dry fruits like berries, at a very low setting (150°C-200°C) for anywhere from 2-4 hours, checking in between to see if they have completely dried yet. Since oven temps vary, you may have to tweek your drying times.

Do extensive reading on plants and drying/storing. You’ll have a far more rewarding and successful results!

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These never cease to amaze me. Beefsteak fungus (fistulina hepatica), edible, and good with the correct recipe. Found a good haul of these today, but this specimen was particularly gelatinous. #mushroom #mushrooms #fungi #fungus #wildfoodlove #shrooms #nature #foraging #forage #foraged #walk #bushcraft #survival #outdoor #walking #hiking #outdoors #shroomatnoon #mycology #fungusamongus #wildfood #survival #wilderness #woodland #woods #forest #countryside #mushroomsociety #england #gloucestershire

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Foraging was a success yesterday! My best friend Maya and I didn’t find a lot but we found enough. Lobster mushrooms, slippery jacks, and one single cute wee puffball. We found some boletes we weren’t familiar with too, took a few home to identify and test. I also gathered some old mans beard moss.

The Etiquette of Herb-Gathering

As a practicing Witch and small-scale herbalist, I often find that when I’m out and about I’m also absentmindedly on the lookout for any new, interesting or useful herb species that might help me in my practice. I even carry a small clean jam jar and a sharp penknife in my handbag at all times for if I spot a herb I just can’t resist and need to take a cutting of it for my collection back home. However, while I’m avidly seeking out roadside feverfew or happily snipping cuttings of a rare cultivar of lavender or sage, I’m always acutely aware of why I call the etiquette of herb-gathering.

These are a few simple rules by which I suggest all foraging Witches, alchemists and herbalists should abide that dictate the correct course of action for those who seek to collect herbs from places other than their own gardens. They are mostly fairly common-sense, but a few are ones that might be overlooked, but which can actually be of profound importance!

I will list the rules below, but bear in mind that it’s not like this is some onerous obligation that must be fulfilled, and nor is it some sort of “Witchcraft commandment” or infallible and unchanging list of sacred laws. These are a few things that I created for my own usage, and nobody else is under any obligation to use them. If you choose to do so, I’ll be thrilled; if you find a way to improve them, please do reblog this post with your corrections! 

The Etiquette of Herb-Gathering

  1. Remember that all plants are living things, and if you harvest them too severely, they will die. This seems obvious, but you’d be shocked how many people forget! This is especially important when what you’re harvesting is the plant’s leaves - always remember that leaves are how plants make their food, so leave enough of them to enable the plant to keep growing strongly.

  2. Never forget that you may not be the only one foraging. Make sure that, when you harvest a wild growth of a herb, there may be others in the area who would also like to harvest that plant. Take only a little from a lot of patches, rather than using only two or three patches, but taking almost all of what is available at each one. This will not only ensure that other foragers can use that patch too, but will mean that when the patch regrows, you’ll know where to go back to in order to find it again instead of needing to hunt down a new patch each time.

  3. When foraging on another’s land, ask their permission first! This seems so straightforward, but sadly people forget that plants growing in other people’s gardens (yes, even their front lawn) are that person’s private property! Taking cuttings or fruits from plants on that property without the owner’s permission is legally theft, and can be punished just like shoplifting or stealing a bike from a railing. It also means that the owner will know that their plant is looking smaller because it’s been harvested, rather than them thinking it’s died or been eaten by some wild herbivore.

  4. Always cut stems at a diagonal angle. Never snip a stem so that it forms a circular, blunted end, because this can allow rainwater to build up on the surface of the cut. This rainwater can trap fungal spores, and cause the plant to get a serious fungal infection that may damage or even kill that whole patch. Instead, cut the stems at a roughly 45° angle, so that water beads up and rolls off more easily. 

  5. When collecting flowers, remember that other people like to look at wildflowers. Never take ALL the flowers from any wild plant, both because it prevents that plant from reproducing as it naturally wants to do, and because it means others who walk past the plant don’t get to see it’s beautiful blooms! If you own the plant, that’s another matter - you may WANT to snip off all flowers to prevent it from bolting, like with parsley. However, with wildflowers, always leave at least half the flowers on the plant so that it can continue to reproduce as nature intended.

  6. Never pick a plant you can’t identify with total certainty. Yet another seemingly-obvious one that is nevertheless often ignored. This is often quoted for fungi, because some fungi can be quite poisonous, but if anything it’s even worse for plants. The medicinally fabulous plant known as yarrow, Achillea millefolia, is a very useful plant and a common component of herbal medicines. However, it looks almost identical to spotted water-hemlock, a species of plant so deadly that one bite can kill you in 20 minutes. Make completely certain that all plants you collect are positively identified, and that you flag all plants with commonly-confused poisonous cousins for further identification later if you’re not 100% sure.

  7. Never harvest flowers from plants around beehives. Bees are one of the most important families in the natural world, being responsible for the pollination of tens of thousands of species of flowering plants all over the world and on every forested continent. Whilst most species of bees are solitary, and don’t form the large hives we assume are common to all bees, those that DO form vast colonies need similarly vast numbers of flowers to support themselves. When you come across a beehive, especially a boxed hive that’s clearly domesticated by humans, try to avoid harvesting any flowers from within 500 metres (about a third of a mile) around the hive(s). The hive needs all the nectar and pollen it can get, and due to the rising threat of colony collapse disorder the life of every single hive is a precious thing that must be preserved at all costs. It might be inconvenient for you, but it’s worth it.

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These are just a few of the major rules that I personally suggest all foragers and herb-gatherers take to heart. Remember that you’re not the only Witch who needs their supplies! Thank you for reading :)

– Juniper

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Finished my main summer project, a seasonal planting calendar. This is meant to serve as a visual reminder of when you should be planning to plant your produce (based on the planting seasons of the Eastern U.S., NY specifically). 

Just a note, each plant has different needs, and some require starting seeds indoors while others can be planted directly outdoors (and some you can likely find already growing around you). Some have longer growing seasons than what is shown. Lots of info can be found online, have fun researching!

Prints & more found here. Happy planting!

I feel so lucky to be able to make create and somehow have you folks enjoy them! As a thank you, I always create packages full of little nature related gifts such as filling up boxes full of foraged treasures I find (I only gather what has fallen to the ground).

I’m actually starting to run out of my goodies, so happy I’m going camping for a month next month. I’m gonna find all the things!

Store: pocketmoss.ca

Instagram: instagram.com/pocketmoss

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Found this bolete, which stains vibrant blue when cut open. Closest I.D I have on it is the Lurid bolete, yet the cap colour doesn’t seem to match the description. It was also found in grassland, relatively far away from any trees. #mushroom #mushrooms #fungi #fungus #vibrant #shrooms #nature #foraging #forage #foraged #walk #bushcraft #survival #outdoor #walking #hiking #outdoors #shroomatnoon #mycology #fungusamongus #wildfood #survival #wilderness #woodland #woods #forest #countryside #outdoorsman #england #gloucestershire

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Forest Witch Tip: Poisonous doppelgangers🌿🌱

This is a list of some of the most confusing plants to identify, with dangerous evil twins (although they may be good for curses). Remember not to eat ANYTHING in the wild unless you’re 100% certain what it is. It’s especially important for us hedge witches who tend to forage vs grow and all kinds of nature witches to know what we’re picking. 




Sweet almonds vs. Bitter almonds

The sweet almonds that are bought, sold, and enjoyed in the U.S. and in most countries have only a negligible amount of cyanide in them, but bitter almonds—which are shorter and wider than their sweet cousins—can contain 42 times as much. This high cyanide content means that children can be fatally poisoned by eating just five to ten bitter almonds, and adults by eating around 50. Even a handful of bitter almonds can lead to dizziness or vertigo, weakness, difficulty breathing, and numerous other symptoms in adults 


Wild grapes VS. Moonseed

Menispermum canadense, or “Canadian moonseed,” produces fruit so similar in appearance to grapes and other pleasant edibles that it can blend in with the Vitis bunch if you’re not careful. The plant is toxic for humans from root to leaf-tip, and its moonseed berries—which have a single, crescent-shaped seed each, unlike grapes’ round ones—can easily prove fatal when eaten due to their toxic lode of dauricine.  Moonseeds also reportedly taste just awful (generally speaking, this is a good sign you should spit something out). 


Carrot, parsnips vs hemlock 

The above-ground plants of wild carrots (Daucus carota, widely known as Queen Anne’s Lace) and parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) can look a lot like hemlock’s, and the roots below can appear similar, too (especially when they’ve just been pulled out of the ground).


For the record, wild parsnip poses its own threat, too. Especially during flowering season, its sap can cause skin reactions which can range from a simple rash to something very much like a lasting, second-degree burn. So if you do go root-hunting (staying well clear of hemlock, of course), you’ll do well to use gloves and skin-covering clothing whenever possible.


Wild blueberry vs Tutsan

blueberries have a potentially deadly lookalike that’s spread from its native Eurasian zones to New Zealand, Australia, and North America. The black berries of Hypericum androsaemum, a.k.a. tutsan or “sweet amber” bushes, can do a decent blueberry impression but can cause gastrointestinal distress, weakness, raised heart-rate, and other symptoms in both people and animals, and especially in children. In general, eager berry-pickers should do some careful research before foraging in the wild, as a wide variety of berries are moderately to highly toxic, including strychnine tree berries, and holly berries

Meet the “hipster banana.” Also known as the “quaker delight,” the “hillbilly mango,” or it’s actual name—the pawpaw. 

September is pawpaw season in a large swath of the U.S., but you won’t find the pawpaw in most grocery stores, even though they’re native to North America. American Indians harvested them, and it’s been said George Washington liked to eat chilled pawpaw for dessert. But much of the pawpaw’s natural habitat was destroyed by development, and they’re not that easy to cultivate. They need slightly acidic, well-drained soil, and harvesting them is labor-intensive.

The locavore food movement has embraced the fruit. Now there are restaurants whipping up pawpaw pie and pawpaw gelato, and local breweries are starting to make pawpaw beer. 

This Once-Obscure Fruit Is On Its Way To Becoming PawPaw-Pawpular

Photograph: Tyrone Turner/WAMU

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I don’t think I’ve shared this here yet, but my two animations, Forage and Really Lost, made it into our college’s student art gallery last term! I was amazed and excited that it got accepted, since it’s the first time the school has displayed an animation :)