Camp NaNoWriMo: 3 Simple Uses for Wild Edibles

I met a writing goal last week. 6000+ words before my weekend began. I don’t want to get behind because if I let too much time pass that little canoe could easily sink with excuses!

Here I go with another camp story.
Several years ago I attended a Wilderness Survival Basic Skills Week up in Maine,  in April.  Chilly but sunny we slept in a tepee, cooked our own food and learned various skills. Four women arrived fully prepared with suitcases and camp gear but   no or improper knives. First lesson, have the right knife and keep the knife with you at all times. Folks who love this stuff know the wild so well they might challenge themselves leaving for the wild forests with only the clothes on their backs, a good pair of hiking boots, a knife in their pocket and nothing else. The two men who were our instructors for the week were very patient with us and had a great sense of humor.

One of the highlights of  the week for me was the wild food meal we prepared before we headed out the next day to the deep mountains of Maine to put our skills to use.

1. Roasted dandelion root tea: We drank a lot of roasted dandelion root tea. First thing in the morning a pot brewed. Deep chocolate brown, bitter rich beverage got the day going. We added that to our evening wild food meal. Dandelion roots are typically gathered after the first frost in fall. Roots are easy to dig, washed and then chopped into small pieces and left to dry. Once dry, they are placed into a coffee grinder to get a coarse ground and then put on a cookie sheet in a fine layer. They are left on a low oven till roasted

2. Dandelion buds: Its easy to find dandelion buds in early spring before or when the first flowers appear. The leaves rise up in a rosette pattern. Moving leaves aside one can easily see the buds and pick them. Back in the kitchen, we sauteed an onion, a little garlic in olive oil. Once the onions looked clear we added the buds and let them gently steam. In a few minutes they were ready to serve. Delicious though a little bitter that the oil and onions complimented.

3. Cress was easy to find in the fields around the school grounds. Crisp greens, picked before dinner and added to our salad were simply good. No chemicals were found at this school. We knew what we were picking and the freshness cannot be compared to store bought lettuces. We added fresh dandelion greens and flowers to our salad too. The secret to blending all the flavors and textures is to use these foods in small amounts and chop up into small pieces. My wild salads at home included romaine or a decent bib lettuce which helped the palate get used to the delectable “weeds” added in.

I have to say our wild food dinner was feast. Simple fare mostly gathered from the wild nourished us. Of course the company was great and humor added the right spice to our evening.

Got any stories? Would enjoy hearing from you. This week I will feature another aspect of gardening with a tour of Michael Judd’s edible landscaping.

Enjoy your day. Judith



Upcoming Workshop: Creating Our New Story: 2/16/13





I am pleased to announce a new workshop titled: Creating Our New Story that I am developing and presenting with Bruce Winkle in Leesburg, VA.

We are in a new time, a new vibrational pattern of viewing and living on this planet. Tremendous changes have occurred and we can make a difference.

We invite you to join us as we take a journey towards creating our new story  We offer specific meditation work and understandings that are relevant to all of us as we listen more deeply to the call of our passion. What is our heart telling us? What stories can we  create filled with respect, integrity and hope for the good of this world no matter where we work and live. What dreams do we want to manifest? How can we work together creating a more stable community where we feel honored again?


Date: Saturday,  February 16, 2013

Time: 9-5:30pm

To register: (703) 771- 7755 or via email:

Tuition: $79.00/person Please bring lunch; tea and snack will be provided.

Location: Elements of Healing, 116 Edwards Ferry Rd, Unit M, Leesburg, VA 20176

If you would like more information please leave your name and contact information and send to the above.

I am excited to be creating and sharing at this time. Its as if we have a palette of possibilities before us unlike any time in the last millennium. I hope you will join us.

Have a great day. Judith


Road Trip (cont) Ups Botanical Sanctuary

Upon arriving at the Ups Botancial Sancturay outside Rutland , Ohio I met one of the 4 interns who would soon be finishing her time here. She was kind enough to take me up one of the trails to the “Tornado Cabin”. “Primitive” , neat and clean, this cabin was to be my home for the next three nights tucked into the forest off one of the trails. Once settled in I headed for the teaching yurt. I enjoyed meeting the interns, (they were finishing up their 4 week stay) sharing good food, and company. They each had their own focus but the common thread we all shared was our love for wild edible and medicinal plants.

I walked a nearby trail, visited the pond, saw the barn and propagation area and then called it a day.

In the morning I took to the trails to experience the “Talking Forest” first hand. Walking slowly and quietly I stopped often to view the plant species clearly marked. Some had laminated fact sheets that were informative. The Sanctuary has particularly replanted and preserved goldenseal, Hydrastis canandensis.


Goldenseal is on the UpS “at risk” list as it has been over harvested from the east coast regions. It is a forest, low growing plant that in some areas created a beautiful carpet. Not like moss but maybe 4-6inches above the forest floor. Replanting has gone on for many years here.

Native Americans taught the early settlers how to use goldenseal. According to Jim Long in Herbal Medicines of the Civil War,

goldenseal tea was used to treat mouth, throat, digestive system, uterus, folk remedy for eye infections; believed to restore and strengthen appetite.”

At the turn of the century goldenseal harvest was in full swing.

“In 1997, ( Richard A. ( Richo) Cech in the Ups Newsletter 1997 reports) the US government placed Goldenseal on the endangered list i.e. in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range in Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Vermont. It is imperiled.”

I knew of the efforts by a few dedicated earth stewards known as the “Goldenseal Boys” who began to replant the forest floor in this region.  Many hands have been replanting over several years to bring this plant and others strongly back to the forest community. The walks today were simply lovely. Though not all goldenseal is labeled I felt I could begin to identify this green beauty as I continued down the paths. The Sanctuary is mostly a deciduous forest. Temperatures soared to at least 96 degrees over the 2 days I walked the trails. The tree canopy offered welcome shade.

There’s more….enjoy your day. Judith


Road Trip (con’t) UpS Botanical Sanctuary

Getting to Ohio from my home in Virginia was interesting. I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed west into West Virginia. I noticed the crispness of the mountain mist as the sun rose. Traffic was light and the miles quietly passed by as the sun headed high in the sky.

Late morning one forested area north of the highway caught my attention. I noticed large swaths of trees in distress, actually defoliated. Trunks and bare branches formed large spindly rectangles and I wondered why. I had heard about woolly adelgid, attacking eastern hemlocks, (Tsuga Canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) in the eastern US. I saw firsthand the infestation of this small aphid like insect on hemlocks in NW CT. Native to Asia this aphid like insect is lethal to the hemlock.

When driving at highway speeds it was difficult for me to tell what type of tree to understand what was happening. But I do know that are forests are stressed and vulnerable to attack.

The West Virginia highway had narrower mountain passes. I enjoyed the views where possible and appreciated the mountain ridges close and in the distance. On long stretches I pulled out my Woody Guthrie CD, a tribute and collection of some of his most well known songs that I enjoy. (There is a centennial celebration of his work across the country this year). Familiar ballads describing the plight of the common man from California to NY on railroads and back roads of America inspired me to sing and appreciate the voice of this balladeer and gifted storyteller as the miles rolled by.

Soon I came across a coal mine plant whose structures lined the highway near one major town. I have never visited or seen a coal mining operation. I caught a few glimpses of the magnitude of such an operation. I remembered the stories of folks who worked here, the dangers and the tragedies.

Slowly I made my way into Ohio crossing a unique suspension bridge over the Ohio River. This secondary road followed the river  where I saw two huge smoke stacks rising up in the horizon spewing plumes of grey smoke. Soon I traversed by the actual electric power plant. Metal, transformers, towers and stations grabbed my attention. Huge, rusted metal frames imposed their presence. My mind thoughts pondered the issues of pollution, health concerns, destruction of environment and water.

Driving slows down on secondary roads. I had a chance  to look around and remember  to be grateful.  Somehow I feel that loving kindness and gratitude, sharing ideas and trusting we have all the creativity of the universe at our disposal will help solve the pressing environmental problems we face. I am grateful for electricity and for coal and the workers who bring both resources to us for all that we enjoy. We take it so for granted, right? Having lost power for four days recently I am keenly aware of our dependency. Though I enjoyed the darkness of night without light interference and the quiet of the night free of AC sounds, motors etc. When the power came back on I appreciated running water again and the AC. Temperatures  were 95-100 degrees

The Summer Solstice reminds me of the cycles of life. New paths come before us… lets be grateful. Enjoy your day. Judith

Road Trip: UpS Botanical Sanctuary

One of my dreams is to visit gardens, sanctuaries, farms dedicated to sustainable food and wildlife management. To share with others the wonderful, careful work being done to preserve and propagate plant species in thoughtful ways and to write about it. In May I enjoyed my visit to The Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary in Floyd VA. In June I wanted to head to Ohio and visit The UpS Botanical Sanctuary. I will be devoting several blogs to this adventure ones that I hope you will enjoy.

United Plant Savers is a grass roots organization dedicated to the conservation and cultivation of native North American medicinal plants. UpS, as we refer to it, has been a voice for plant stewardship and sustainable harvesting practices, especially important today with increased demands for many medicinal species. The question remains: Can we protect our resources and still meet these increasing demands?

UpS maintains a botanical sanctuary in Rutland Ohio. I had the privilege and joy of finally traveling to this place I have read and heard about in the herbal programs I have attended over the years. When I teach my “Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Nutritional Self Care” class at the university we do a section on western medicinal plants. I encourage students to consider supporting an organization such as UpS if they choose to consume herbs for their health. Small contributions by many of us go a long way to support the Sanctuary’s efforts. Plus UpS offers a plant sale in the spring and goldenseal, ( more about goldenseal later) an at risk plant, is often offered to members at an affordable price.

The Sanctuary offers two 4-6 week internship programs, one in spring and one in fall. Interns learn plant propagation, general farm up-keep, and medicinal plant identification, sustainable wild harvesting principles, medicine making and trail building. What caught my attention is the notion of a “Talking Forest” I wanted to see for myself this idea applied to a hiking trail.

I spoke with Chip Carroll, intern manager and confirmed dates. The Summer solstice seemed like an ideal time to spend a few days in this forest.

Bags packed, GPS routed I left my neck of the woods early in the morning. Mist and haze blocked the first rays of sun. By the time I headed west towards the Blue ridge Mountains the sun broke  through the cloudy mist  and the views were breathtaking.

Rose Care: Home Remedies

I grew up in a neighborhood with emigrants from Europe. One of our neighbors had beautiful roses. My mother asked this woman how she tended her roses. My mother often relates the story of the answer she received and noted this remedy worked well for her too.



She would take bar of Ivory soap and lather up some in water. Then she sprayed this soap mixture on her rose leaves at a time of day when they had a chance to dry. Roses don’t especially like leaves to remain wet for too long. The soap clogs up an insect’s breathing organs and it will perish. Remember to keep the area beneath your roses free of debris as insects multiply and hide out in this leaf matter. It seems that hybrids in particular are susceptible to a variety of diseases and pests. These problems can result in killing parts of the rose plant, stunt the plant’s growth and diminish the quality of their blooms.

The above picture shows aphids on a rose bush.

I found several sites that give great information on dealing with pests and disease in the rose garden. Heirloom roses offered succinct information and natural recipes to make at home : for example:

“Aphids, Mites, Scale & Whiteflies

Orange Oil Cleaner – Dilute 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. Use when needed (apply to leaves). Good coverage is important; wet leaf surfaces to point of drip.

Soap Spray – Mix ½ teaspoon mild dish soap and 1 teaspoon cooking oil to a 1-quart sprayer filled with water. Spray liberally over entire plant.

Bring in Ladybugs – To keep aphids in check, release on the affected plant. They will stay as long as there is shelter and host bugs to feed on. Aphids may also be dislodged by a strong jet of water.”

Essential oils are easy to obtain.  Soaps and oils are easy mixtures to make.

Lady bugs are easy to obtain too if you are not noticing them in your gardens and see a beginning pest problem. Organic, natural means of caring for our garden can minimize harmful pests and diseases.

Happy Gardening today. Judith