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THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – (Mini) EPISODE 24. Memorial Day Break (with Steph Zabel & Calendula Bonus Audio!)

seedling trays 2

Marc & Mindy are taking a break from a full-length podcast in honor of Memorial Day Weekend! This truncated episode of The Walking Herbalist Podcast features Bonus Audio from the founder of Herbstalk, Steph Zabel. Listen to her talk about the featured herb of this year’s 2016 Herbstalk, Calendula! We hope to see everyone in Somerville, MA next weekend (June 4 and 5) for the big event, where we will be doing live on-scene interviews!  We will be back next week with our extra special episode, our interview with Iris Weaver. Enjoy the photos of our seedlings hardening off and fritters made from battered dandelion buds!  Happy Memorial Day everyone!

dandelion buds 2 fritters 2

THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 23. The “Green is Good” Herbalism & Devil’s Claw Show

The “Herb Nugget” paints a beautiful picture of a riverside walk. Marc & Mindy debate whether to pronounce turmeric “TER-meric”, “TOO-meric”, or something else. They talk about the progress of their seedlings, with thyme, oregano, and basil coming up very quickly in about a week. The parsley and spinach are starting to rear up, whereas the rosemary is taking her sweet time…

Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Devil’s Claw, or Harpagophytum procumbens. While Marc & Mindy have tinctured the root, and tried it on a few occasions, they do not have a lot of personal experience with this southern African native plant. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic reputation has earned it a place in the herbalist’s war chest around the world.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Chung H, et al. Anti-osteoporotic activity of harpagide by regulation of bone formation in osteoblast cell culture and oviarectomy-induced bone loss mouse models. 2016; 179:66-75.  Using test-tube and The researchers find that harpagide, a chemical extracted from the root of Devil’s Claw, may be a useful pharmaceutical for the treatment of osteoporosis.

The Book Review is “Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation”  by Ken Druse. The full review can be found here. We are huge proponents of making as many plants as possible, and the experimental gardeners will love all of Mr. Druse’s tips (not to mention, his wonderful photography!)

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one and this one. The first one talks about planting by the astrological clock. Here is a great link to a brief discussion on the nuts and bolts of astrological gardening. The other is of an herbalist who (at least as its written in this article) appears to be a charlatan.

Don’t forget that Herbstalk is right around the corner (June 4th & 5th)! Enjoy the show!

REVIEW: Making More Plants – The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation

By Mindy

Highly informative text on the various methods of plant propagation, wrapped in a coffee table book – type package (complete with beautiful photography!)

Ken Druse’s “Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation” is a perfect book for this time of year.  Even though the spring has been a bit long in warming up here in the Northeastern United States, our garden preparations have been carefully thought out. And “Making More Plants” is what its all about!

Click on the photo link to Amazon.com to buy this book and we will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you!

This season, Marc and I are investing heavily in what we call our “Italian Seasoning” garden, so named due to the fact that it highlights our pesto staples: basil, thyme, rosemary, spinach, oregano. And we have a little lemon balm thrown in, which we will utilize medicinally. Using the procedures we outlined expansively here, we have started over 400 seedlings indoors this year! The featured photograph above shows our indoor growing set up with LED shop lights.

So, propagating plants is extremely important to us. In fact as we mentioned on last week’s episode of the The Walking Herbalist Podcast, our idea of foraging often includes looking for ways to make sure that we reproduce our wild floral friends. And of course, planting seeds is not the only way to make this happen.

Genovese Basil
A tray of Genovese Basil (approximately 5 days after sowing) for Marc & Mindy’s “Italian Seasoning Garden”

“Making More Plants” is a beautiful, large, coffee-table sized book (maximum dimension 11 inches), with exquisite photographs that were mostly taken by the author. The information within ranges from general plant botany, to sowing seeds, to vegetative propagation with descriptions for all sources of plant material (stems, leaves, roots). Plant grafting and division are also included.  It is a terrific source of information for the experimental gardener who wants to find ways to increase plant populations.

Be creative out there! Find your plants, and then make more of them. Ken Druse’s “Making More Plants” is definitely a good starting place!

 

Note: The Walking Herbalist is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that Marc will receive a small commission for each purchase on Amazon that you make after linking to it from this website. 

The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an Amazon.com affiliate, we receive no compensation for this. 

THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 22. The “Nature is Boss” Herbalism & Chicory Show

The Herb Nugget eludes to our bunker’s location in the 2011 tornado tract of the Pioneer Valley in Western Massacusetts; nature will always win!  Indoor seed starting has begun, with our seedling breaking the surface of the “Italian Seasoning” garden we are planting this year. If you want to know about how we start seeds, you can check out this post (which includes a .pdf of a talk we recently gave) on the subject.

Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Cichorium intybus — Chicory! We personally have harvested and enjoyed the roasted chicory root as a coffee like beverage.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Smith AP, et al. An Investigation of the Acute Effects of Oligofructose-Enriched Inulin on Subjective Wellbeing, Mood and Cognitive Performance. Nutrients 2015 (7): 8887-8896.  Mindy gives a brief summary on Inulin (which is found abundantly in chicory root), its prebiotic capabilites, and utility to gut flora as a backdrop. The article describes human inulin consumption correlating with better memory, improved sense of happiness, less indigestion, and less hunger when compared to a placebo.

The Book Review is “Mushrooms of Northeast North America” by George Barron. The full review is here. This gives us an opportunity to talk about how we are dipping our toes into the world of mycology. Mindy also talks about her brand new magnifying loupe.

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one and this one. One of them discusses how a couple created India’s first and only private wildlife sanctuary from seemingly useless land. The other bashes on the commercialization of food foraging in the United Kingdom.

Don’t forget that Herbstalk is right around the corner (June 4th & 5th)! Enjoy the show! The botanical plate pictured above is from Kops et al., J., Flora Batava, vol. 11: t. 832 (1853) and was obtained from plantillustrations.org.

REVIEW: Mushrooms of Northeast North America (Midwest to New England)

By Mindy

As an absolute mycology newcomer, this seems like a good beginner’s guide to mushroom hunting thus far. Gotta start somewhere!

I have no business reviewing a field guide to mushrooms, let alone “Mushrooms of Northeast North America” by George Barron. Why? I have never willingly eaten a mushroom. The rare one that finds it way inadvertently onto my slice of pizza is thrown out in disgust. The few times I have bit into a mushroom, I have gagged.

Click on the photo link to Amazon.com to buy this book and we will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you!

So what is with this budding inner mushroom hunter apparently I harbor? Who knows?! I would not know a chanterelle from a white from an oyster from a portobello from a shiitake mushroom if they were labeled with giant black marker in the supermarket. In fact, I have no idea how to cook a mushroom, or what they are even supposed to taste like…WOW!

Last year Marc and I went to the Natural Living Expo in Marlborough, MA. One of the vendors there was Taproot Herbals who happens to have wonderful Chaga Tinctures (check them out here.) I purchased an amazing bottle of the Chaga Plus Mushroom Power, and really love it. In a way, I think it is this tincture that has opened my eyes to the world of foraging fungus!

So of course I bought books…And finally this spring, Marc and I have been going out mushroom hunting. Of the five shroom identification books I have, George Barron’s “Mushrooms of Northeast North America: Midwest to New England” keeps rising to the top of the most helpful stack.

Brown spores collected from a spore print of the little brown mushrooms from Belchertown, MA seen in the photo above. The spores were collected on a clear piece of packing tape, and then sealed with another piece of packing tape. Made a great impromptu microscope slide!
Brown spores collected from a spore print of the little brown mushrooms from Belchertown, MA seen in the photo above. The spores were collected on a clear piece of packing tape, and then sealed with another piece of packing tape. Surprisingly, made a great impromptu microscope slide! Approximately 600x magnification. (Remember I am a pathologist if you are wondering why I have a microscope!)

At 8 1/2″ in its maximal dimension, this identification guide is great for backpacks, but a bit too big for standard pockets. It is very well constructed, with a good binding, and glossy (probably water repellent to some degree) pages. Twenty-three pages of introductory material guides you through the organization of the book and the basics of mycology. There are a few pictoral quick reference keys.

The bulk of the guide divides mushrooms into “non-gill fungi” (Including slime molds, sac fungi, and basidiomycota) and “gill fungi”. The gill fungi is further divided by spore color (pink, dark, brown, and light). A beautiful glossy, well-taken, informative photograph adorns each one-half to one-third page mushroom entry. The description of each of the 609 represented species is a brief 3-5 sentences, and contains basic information with no fluff. A note on edibility is also included.

Finally, the back of the book contains an illustrated quick reference guide on edible mushrooms, a glossary of mycological terms, references, and an index. The guide is easy to flip through and well-organized overall.

So, the final word on this? I really am not even an amateur mushroom hunter; I am an absolute newbie. This book seems like a good place to start, even if I have yet to make a single successful/confident identification. I have no doubt that it will take me years to develop proficiency. And this review reflects my lack of knowledge on mycology. So, why bother posting this? It is a reminder to you (and myself) that we all need to start somewhere. So, grab your books and go…

P.S. Maybe my eyesight is getting worse, but I took a cue from my botanist pals and bought a magnifying loupe (10x magnification). I ended up getting this one, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I think it will be very helpful with floral and fungal identification. Keep it in mind if you eyes are getting a bit squishy…there are many types of loupes out there!

 

Note: The Walking Herbalist is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that Marc will receive a small commission for each purchase on Amazon that you make after linking to it from this website. 

The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an Amazon.com affiliate, we receive no compensation for this. 

 

THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 21. The “Don’t Know What You Got” Herbalism & Mugwort Show

The Herb Nugget references how close we were to losing our sick kitty last week, and how grateful we are that she pulled through her “Feline Vestibular Disorder” attack. We chitchat about our interview last weekend of Katja Swift and Ryn Midura of the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism out at their wilderness retreat in Royalston, MA. Hopefully we will get that up soon! Of course we are still in the middle of editing Iris Weaver‘s interview as well. Busy, busy!

Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Artemisia vulgaris — Mugwort! And we enjoy a tea blend with Echinacea purpura, red clover, peppermint, and mugwort to go along with Marc’s discussion of this cool herb.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” research article is: Lachenmeier DW, et al. Thujone – Cause of Absinthism? Forensic Sci Int 158 (2006): 1-8. This article discusses whether thujone is responsible for the symptoms that Absinthe drinkers of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries experienced, namely hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and hallucinations. Made from another Artemisia, wormwood, absinthe was completely banned in Europe and the United States by the 1920s. However, its now been legalized. The link between thujone consumption and absinthism is tenuous at best. We will keep drinking our mugwort (which also contains thujone), but look into this for your sake!

The Book Review is on Russ Cohen‘s “Wild Plants I Have Known…And Eaten”. The full review is available here.

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one and this one. One of them talks about pharmacy students in India communing with their lively garden. The other discusses the merits of vertical gardening in the urban environment.

Enjoy the Show!

REVIEW: Wild Plants I Have Known…And Eaten

By Mindy

Summary: Outstanding regional wild food guide for Northeastern America, and a fantastic resource for foragers and chefs!

Russ Cohen is a local legend. Marc and I had the pleasure to attend one of his foraging edible and medicinal plant walks in 2014 at the Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester, MA. At that time, we purchase his book, “Wild Plants I have Known…And Eaten” (available for sale here. All proceeds of the $15 book benefit the Greenbelt – Essex County’s Land Trust). Turns out, Cohen is not only a fantastic plant identifier, he is also a great cook! It was our first time trying Sumac-ade, a delicious cold beverage made from soaking staghorn sumac berries. We were hooked!

“Wild Plants I have Known…And Eaten” is a lean 86 pages and comfy 9″ x 6″, perfect for both curling up in bed to read, as well as stuffing it into your pack. It is entirely black and white, approximately 80% text, with line drawings (by Stephanie Letendre) and photographs sprinkled throughout.

The first seventeen plus pages are introductory, with a discussion on foraging including where to go, survivalism, and safety of consuming wild plants, amongst other topics.

The next segment dives into thirteen wild foods that are relatively common in Massachusetts. This includes plants like stinging nettle, pokeweed, sassafras, and shagbark hickory. Cohen provides a brief physical description of the plant and its habitat, followed by a robust discussion on its culinary uses. Finally, one or two recipes (suitable for high end restaurants) cap off each plant entry.

An “honorable mention” section provides a brief paragraph description and a black and white photo of 27 more edible wild plants common in New England (particularly on the North Shore of Massachusetts).  A bibliography and an index end the book. A pull-out calendar documenting when each wild foods can be harvested (with reference to northeastern Massachusetts) is an amazing bonus, and worth the price of the book by itself.

“Wild Plants I Have Known…And Eaten” is definitely not a field guide. It will be of very little utility when it comes to identifying plants. Leave that to staples, such as this guide and this one.  It excels, however, at sharing information on how to prepare the edible plants you do identify.

This book has a strong regionality as well, centering geographically around Essex County of Massachusetts. This is a strong plus for those who live nearby, and a negative increasing in strength the farther away from the North Shore of Massachusetts you get. For the most part, the plants that are included tend to be widely distributed throughout North America. Information on harvest times however may not apply to given regions.

In summary, this is a fantastic book, and should be a part of the library of any forager of the northeastern United States. Also, adventurous chefs would love it too!

 

Check out our 2-part guide on Beginning Foraging !

or see what Marc has to say in: Just Walk Already!