Browsing the archives for the knotweed tag.


CSF Week 3: Ramps

CSF Newsletters, General Posts, Recipes
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ramps

ramps

This week your share contains 3 new items: ramps, trout lily leaves and wild mint.

I want to take this time to stress to you how carefully and sustainably we harvest your produce, especially foods like ramps and trout lily, which are native and not invasives (such as knotweed and garlic mustard.)

Ramps take time to become established. We pick with permission, extremely carefully and leave the bulbs so the plants can continue their life cycles. Our intention is to disturb the ramps as little as possible. That being said, they are quite a celebrated plant with ramp festivals happening all over West Virginia in the upcoming weeks (end of April beginning of May.) Last Thursday’s Post-Gazette (the one in which we were featured) had a bunch of recipes using ramps, be sure to check them out.  Here are a couple ramp and morel festivals which were listed in the Post Gazette.

Trout lilies are also a native plant and were harvested carefully and with permission. We picked the leaves for your share this week (the little root tubers are also edible.) We recommend adding them to salads.

trout lily

trout lily

Wild mint is extremely flavorful. I made a gluten-free tabouli (using rice, you could also use quinoa or wheat products such as bulgar, cous cous or cracked wheat) and it was delicious. Instead of parsely I used chickweed. Instead of scallions I used the onion grass. You could even add garlic mustard (I would have but didn’t have any on hand.) Truly a delicious wild dish! (Recipe below.)

Wild, Gluten-free Tabouli

Wild, Gluten-free Tabouli

This week your share includes:

  • ramps
  • trout lily
  • wild mint
  • chickweed
  • garlic mustard
  • onion grass
  • dryad’s saddle - make sure to cook before eating!
  • Japanese knotweed
  • stinging nettle
  • deadnettle

We’re almost done with the Japanese knotweed season! To have knotweed on hand once the season ends you can:

  1. freeze it: cut it into thin rings and freeze it (you can blanch them first or not)
  2. tincture them: chop and fill a jar with knotweed stalks, then cover with 80 or 100 proof vodka. After 6 weeks the resulting tincture will be a more medicinal way to get the benefits of knotweed (resveratrol among other compounds).
  3. pickle them! If you’ve made pickles before do it the same way,  using knotweed stalks in place of cucumber spears. Or follow the wild fermentation recipe below.
  4. make a soda! (see info below.)
  5. Add to homemade sauerkraut

Fermenting food is a healthy way to preserve it. You do not cook the food, thereby preserving all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and fermentation causes healthy microbes to colonize the food and is very healthy for your gut.

To make a soda you need to have a “ginger bug” starter on hand. This is good to make and then keep in the refrigerator…you may want to make a naturally fermented and fizzy soda out of one of the many plants you’ll receive this season!

To make the ginger bug:

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger (unpeeled)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (organic is best)

To a glass jar add the above ingredients and stir well. Cover with a cloth and leave on the counter for 2 days.

After two days, add 2 tsp chopped unpeeled ginger and 2 tsp sugar each day for a week. Stir a couple times a day. Keep covered with a cloth on the counter (not refrigerated.) It should get fizzy and taste like gingerale. It is now ready to use. If you are not ready to use it simply cap and refrigerate until ready.

To make Japanese Knotweed Soda:

Chop and boil 2 quarts (or as much as you have, doesn’t need to be that much) knotweed into a strong tea for at least 10 minutes in a gallon of water. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cool to body temperature (or room temperature). Strain plants out and add a cup of ginger starter. Mix and cover with cloth, leaving on the counter for a couple days. Once it becomes fizzy and less sweet, bottle and refrigerate. Corks are best to cap bottles with - the carbonation builds even in the fridge and it’s better for the cork to fly out than for the bottle to explode (which has happened to a friend of mine.) These sodas are delicious.

Replenish your ginger bug: add another cup of water, 2 tsp ginger and 2 tsp sugar, stir and refrigerate until ready to use again.

We’ve made sodas from: yellow dock, dandelion, black locust flowers, nettles/ginger, even cacao nibs! I will definitely be making Japanese knotweed soda soon.

Naturally fermented knotweed pickles:

  • fresh Japanese knotweed stalks to fill a quart jar
  • spring water, 1 quart
  • 2-3 Tbsp sea salt (between 1/2 and 1 Tbsp salt per cup water)
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1-2 Tbsp dill seed (optional)

Mix salt and water until salt dissolves making a brine. Add garlic and dill to bottom of  jar. Fill with knotweed stalks and cover with brine. Cover jar with cloth or the top. Leave on counter 1 - 7 days, tasting every day after about 3 days to see how sour the pickles are. This is a no-cook natural fermentation method to make pickles and can be used for cucumbers as well.

Recipe for Wild Gluten-free Tabouli

  • 2 cups cooked rice or quinoa
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped chickweed (or 1/2 cup chopped chickweed and 1/2 cup chopped garlic mustard)
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp chopped fresh wild mint
  • 2 -3 Tbsp chopped onion grass

Mix all ingredients together. Enjoy!

Remember to cook your dryad’s saddle (and all wild mushrooms) first before enjoying.

And make sure to check out CSF member and Pittsburgh Magazine Columnist Leah Lizarondo’s recent column: Girl Gone Wild. You’ll find her delicious recipes for garlic mustard/nettle pesto and chickweed crepes.

Also, nettles season is coming to an end soon (once they flower they will not be great to use.) If you’re out of ideas or can’t get to all your nettles, consider drying them or even freezing them. Here’s an inspiring blog post I found when searching the web….lots of great ideas on how to store wild edibles!

Enjoy your share!

~ Melissa

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Frick Park Walk

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Poisonous or Toxic, Raw, Tincture
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Our first walk of the year was so much fun! We had great weather and lots of enthusiastic people. We identified at least 12 wild edibles (including Dryad’s Saddle, an edible mushroom that everyone got to take home.) Unfortunately we didn’t find morels…but join us on Saturday for our Earth Day walks and who knows what we’ll find!

discussing wild edibles at a wild edibles walk in Frick Park

discussing wild edibles at a wild edibles walk in Frick Park

We found and discussed:

Dandelion

dandelion flowers

dandelion flowers

Plantain

Plantain

Plantain

Chickweed

close up of chickweed

close up of chickweed

Japanese knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Dryad’s Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

Purple Archangel (Purple deadnettle)

Lamium purpureum, purple deadnettle

Lamium purpureum, purple deadnettle

Violet

violet

violet

Broad Leaf Dock
Burdock

Burdock

Burdock

Nettles

stinging nettles

stinging nettles

Cleavers
Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

May Apple

We discussed making:

Our next walks are this Saturday at the Frick Park Environmental Center for their family-friendly, free, Earth Day Celebration! The festival is Saturday April 21, 2012  from 11:30 to 4, and we will lead two walks at 1 pm and 2 pm.

Hope to see you there!

~ Melissa

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CSF Week 1 Newsletter

CSF Newsletters, General Posts, Recipes
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Week 1's share. Absent from photo: cleavers.

Week 1's share. Absent from photo: cleavers.

Welcome to week 1 of the Community Supported Foraging!

I am posting the newsletter on the blog so that if you are following (or foraging) along you can read about the suggestions and recipes of what is current wild and available.

Also, we may be able to make more shares available at some point so this way you can follow along and see if you would like to join in.

We had a couple surprises in this week’s share: young dryad’s saddle mushroom, which turns out to be delicious when it is young and tender like the ones we found and creeping charlie or ground ivy, which we found in abundance at Wild Red’s Gardens, who have graciously offered to let us forage there.

I am so happy to be able to include edible wild mushrooms in this week’s share. To me that makes the share extra fun! An important note about wild mushrooms:

Dryad's saddle

Dryad's saddle

WILD MUSHROOMS MUST BE COOKED BEFORE EATEN!

in other words:

DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS RAW

or:

ALWAYS COOK WILD MUSHROOMS

Ella serving some dryad's saddle, sauteed in butter

Ella serving dryad's saddle, sauteed in butter

I recommend when first trying a new mushroom to simply saute it in butter, making sure you like the flavor, before adding it to a dish. Dryad’s saddle is tender and delicious this early in the season, but later it will get tough and bitter. I’d never enjoyed its taste until finding these young ones in the woods. At this stage, they rival morels. They are in fact known in some circles as “The morel hunter’s consolation prize.”

In this week’s share:

  • Dryad’s saddle mushroom(fresh)
  • dried reishi mushrooms
  • stinging nettles
  • broad dock leaves
  • cleavers
  • Japanese knotweed stalks
  • purple archangel (purple deadnettle)
  • violet flowers
  • onion grass
  • creeping charlie/ground ivy
  • garlic mustard

Read The Rest of This Post »

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Backyard Edibles: The Food Under My Feet

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Peaches

Peaches

In my small urban backyard which is only twenty feet by sixty feet, I am able to identify and collect over 80 edible plants, especially if I walk down my street and make use of other plants in the neighborhood.

Most of these plants are literally wild and grow there by chance. Others I have transplanted to the yard, and they now return year after year. Some, like Japanese Knotweed, are quite invasive and I am happy they are not in my yard, but I can easily harvest them around the neighborhood. And some food, fruit bushes and trees like peach, fig, blueberry and blackberry, I have planted.

The following is a list of wild plants, separated into categories, of what grows in my tiny yard (and these are only the things I identify and use! There are plenty of other plants which I don’t know or do not know how to use hanging out as well.)

Totally Wild in My Yarddandelionflowers

1. Dandelion
2. Yellow Dock
3. Chickweed
4. Lambs Quarters
5. Amaranth
6. Quickweed
7. Lady’s Thumbprint
8. Garlic Mustard
9. Broad Leaved Plantain
10. Narrow Leaved Plantain
11. Red Clover
12. White Clover
13. Sorrel
14. Wood Sorrel
15. Shephard’s Purse
16. Cress (Peppercress)
17. Purslane
18. Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace (though we don’t use this as a rule, because of its resemblance to hemlock)

Transplanted to my yard, but considered a wild plant

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

1. Nettles
2. Comfrey
3. Blackberries
4. Black Raspberry
5. Oyster Mushrooms
6. Lemon Balm
7. Violets

In my neighborhood, an easy walk from my front door

1. Burdock
2. Black Walnut
3. Acorns
4. Japanese Knotweed
5. Chicory
6. Mulberries
7. Wild Cherries, Tart and Sweet
8. Maple (Maple Syrup, if I were to tap them)
9. Cleavers
10. Thistles
11. Sumac
12. Wild Grapes

Plants I use only as medicine (most of the plants above are medicinal as well as edible, but the following I use only as medicine or herbs)

Feverfew...This one's in a pot, there is more in the yard

Feverfew...This one's in a pot, there is more in the yard

1. Mugwort
2. Mullein
3. St. John’s Wort
4. Motherwort
5. Catnip
6. Feverfew

Food Plants Which I Have Added To My Yard

1. Grapes/Grape Leaves
2. Fig
3. Strawberries
4. Peach Tree
5. Plum Tree
6. Cherry Tree
7. Kale (3 Varieties)
8. Beets
9. Carrots
10. Radishes
11. Tomatoes
12. Arugula
13. Spinach
14. Zucchini
15. Broccoli
16. Collard Greens
17. Chard
18. Fennel
19. Cucumbers
20. Pepper
21. Asian Pear Trees…3 trees/varieties
22. Blueberries

Edible Flowers

Calendula Flowers

Calendula Flowers

1. Calendula
2. Nasturtiums
3. Borage
4. Day Lily
5. Squash Flowers
6. Violets
7. Pansy
8. Sunflowers (Seeds)

Cultivated Herbs (if not mentioned above)

1. Basil
2. Rosemary
3. Thyme
4. Lemon Thyme
5. Peppermint
6. Spearmint
7. Apple Mint
8. Oregano
9. Sage
10. Cilantro
11. Dill
12. Parsley
13. Chives

What do you have in your yard?

Enjoy the harvest!

Melissa

Birch Center for Health
Food Under Foot

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Great Walk Today!

General Posts
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Thanks so much to everyone who joined us on our wild edibles walk today on Pittsburgh’s south side! We couldn’t find the camera before we left for the walk (we have since found it and I put some great photos of the St. John’s Wort - which I knew I saw growing out of the rocks on the way to the walk - on facebook!) However, I will embellish this post with pictures of the plants we saw today that I have taken before. You’ll find the St. John’s Wort at the end…and also check it out on facebook if you’re on there.

Mulberries (Morus)

Mulberries (Morus)

We had a great time collecting mulberries! White ones, purple ones, red ones! I wish I had a picture of the girls sitting on the sheet filling their containers with berries and eating as many (or more!) than they dropped in their cups! Here’s an old picture of Dave and Ella collecting mulberries from a great tree on Polish Hill.

Dave and Ella collecting mulberries 4 years ago on Polish Hill.

Dave and Ella collecting mulberries 4 years ago on Polish Hill.

We also saw:

  • Burdock (Arctium lappa) The root is known as Gobo in Japan. Eat the root raw, cooked or juiced. Can also eat the flower stalks and leaf stalks like celery. (See our Burdock page for picture and full description)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) All parts of this plant are edible: roots, leaves, flower. Flower petals go nicely into batters (like pancake batter or cookie batter.) Roasted root makes a good coffee substitute, along with roasted chicory root and roasted burdock root. (See our Dandelion page for pictures and full description)
  • White Clover (Trifolium repens) A mild but nutritious green, add to smoothies or salads. Can also use red clover (which is often dried and used as tea), we didn’t see red clover today.
  • Thin Leafed Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) - Fairy bandaids! Chew and place on bee stings (and other stings/bites) to take the pain away. Can eat as a green, mild tasting can be blended into smoothies or juices. I recently made a salve which worked wonders on a poison oak rash.
  • Plantago Lanceolate (Thin Leaf Plantain)

    Plantago Lanceolate (Thin Leaf Plantain)

  • Broad Leafed Plantain (Plantago major) Same uses as above. This also has seeds in the fall which can be collected and used in oatmeal, breads, flours, and as a substitute for psyllium seeds, which are also a Plantago.
  • Japanese Knotwood (Polygonum cuspidatum) Eaten in early spring when shoots are tender, but the stalks can probably still be juiced. Lemony. Very good source of Resveratrol (especially the roots) and has been used to treat Lyme Disease.
  • Lambs quarters (Chenopodium alba) High in protein, high in calcium, one of my favorite edibles. “Wild Spinach”, is closely related to quinoa. I use it in smoothies and any place I would use spinach.
  • Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) Garlicky tasting invasive weed, makes a great pesto!
  • Garlic Mustard

    Garlic Mustard

  • Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) Recently the root has been used as a cure for Lyme Disease
  • Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) Used in Chinese Medicine, can make moxa from this dried herb. Also used in dream pillows to enhance dreams.
  • mugwort1

  • Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) When fruit turns red in fall, use dried as a lemon-tasting spice, or steep in cold water for a lemon-water or sweeten for a lemonade-like drink. High in vitamin C.
  • Mulberries (Morus species)
  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace(Daucus carota) Root smells like carrot, and there is a red petal in the middle of a lacy white flower, which distinguishes it from its deadly relatives Poison Hemlock and Water Hemlock. Still, we make it a rule not to eat wild carrots (though edible) to avoid a deadly mistake.

We also saw two poisonous plants and a common allergen:

  • Crown vetch (Securigera varia, or Coronilla varia,) Contains nitroglycerides and is dangerous for horses and other non-ruminants, such as people
  • A wild foxglove Also dangerous to the heart
  • Ragweed - A common allergen

Don’t forget: if you sign up for our newsletter (right, green box) you’ll get FIVE FREE EBOOKS about 5 common wild edibles! They are full of color pictures and great recipes.

And now…here are the pics of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum):

St. John's Wort growing out of a rock wall on Pittsburgh's South Side

St. John's Wort growing out of a rock wall on Pittsburgh's South Side

The flower buds of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) stain maroon when squeezed.

The flower buds of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) stain maroon when squeezed.

Thanks so much to everyone for coming!

Please make sure you sign up for our newsletter so we can let you know when our next walk will be.

~ Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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Camping and Wild Edibles

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Tree Spirit

Tree Spirit

We have lots of campers here at Food Under Foot! Hello to you all! Thanks so much for your emails. We love camping, too, and camping is a fantastic time to find and use wild edibles.

There are some things to be aware of: not all parks want you to pick plants, so find out the rules at each park. Some parks do not mind if you pick invasive weeds like garlic mustard, burdock, nettles, Japanese Knotweed (etc) and will even spray or pull these themselves, so it’s worthwhile to ask. We’ve come across parks where they don’t want you to pick any plants (but mushrooms were ok there), to others who will say weeds such as the ones mentioned above are ok.

We also never pick endangered or protected plants like Trillium, Ferns, or Goldenseal.

When we do harvest plants to eat we only pick what we will eat immediately, so as not to overpick or waste anything. When we are harvesting something like garlic mustard or burdock root from places where they tell you it’s ok (sometimes they’ll be thrilled!) we sometimes do pick more to dry or use later.

Lately we have found the best wild edibles camping! Chickweed, violets, lambs quarters and garlic mustard make wonderful salads. We usually bring a bottle of salad dressing, but really these wild edibles are so fresh and delicious you could eat them plain!

Salad of Violet and Garlic mustard leaves and flowers

Salad of Violet and Garlic mustard leaves and flowers

These flavorful edibles also make a good trailside nibble if you get hungry on a hike. Also wild berries will be in season soon…those are always fun to nibble while camping!

Other wild edibles such as morel and other edible mushrooms and nettles are excellent sauteed, and can be eaten over rice or pasta.

Melissa sauteing morels on a camp stove at a recent camping trip to Mingo Creek County Park, PA for Morel Madness

Melissa sauteing morels on a camp stove at a recent camping trip to Mingo Creek County Park, PA for Morel Madness

Roots such as burdock are excellent cooked into soups or with rice, giving a rich earthy flavor.

Some wild edibles you can find while camping are great as medicines, too. If you get stung by a bee look for plantain (some call it fairy bandaid) to chew and place on the sting.

If you get stung by nettles, you’ll likely find burdock or yellow dock leaves nearby…chew those and apply to the nettle sting.

Poison Ivy? Go back into the woods and look for jewelweed, crush and apply this plant to your itchy rash. Plantain will also work to take the itch away.

Wild edibles are full of nutrition and medicinal properties and are excellent to use while camping!

We’ll be sure to bring you more camping adventures as the season progresses (we’re going again later this week!) Make sure you let us know about your camping wild culinary adventures as well!

~ Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot
Birch Center for Health

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Walking With The SCA

General Posts, Identification
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We had a great time going on a wild edibles walk with students of Pittsburgh’s SCA (Student Conservation Association.)
We knew we wouldn’t find any along the south side river trail, so we brought along some beautiful sky-blue chicory, which is in bloom all along the roadsides and all over the city these days.
We sampled herbal tea which had chicory in it, and discussed it’s use as a coffee substitute (drying and roasting the roots.)

(You can read more about chicory in my article in Natural News here.)

We did have some great finds along the south side trail that day, including:

  • Dandelion
    dandelion leaf rosette

    dandelion leaf rosette

  • Burdock
  • Garlic Mustard
  • Purslane - delicious succulent plant, high in omega fatty acids
    Purslane - High in Omega Fatty Acids

    Purslane - High in Omega Fatty Acids

  • Lamb’s Quarters - delicious “wild spinach” (please sign up for our newsletter (top right) for lots more info about lambs quarters!)
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Mugwort
  • Staghorn Sumac (which we all sampled the sumac lemonade we had made for them, see previous post.)
    Staghorn Sumac - we soaked the red clusters in water for a lemony drink

    Staghorn Sumac - we soaked the red clusters in water for a lemony drink

  • Poisonous Crown Vetch - the variety Penngift was made in Pennsylvania, to plant along the highway to prevent soil erosion…with limited results. The soil continues to erode, and while cows and other ruminant can safely eat the plant, which is high in nitroglyceride, it is poisonous to horses and other non-ruminants. It spreads very easily as well.
  • Wild Carrot - which, though edible, we do not eat because of it’s similar appearance to the very deadly Water Hemlock and Poison Hemlock
    Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot

    Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot

  • Mullein - an herb which benefits the lungs, and often smoked by Native Americans for that purpose
    First Year Mullein basal rosette

    First Year Mullein basal rosette

  • St. John’s Wort - an herb used to treat depression
    St. John's Wort

    St. John's Wort

Here are some pictures of what the kids and adults of the SCA:

walking and talking with folks of the SCA

walking and talking with folks of the SCA

Pittsburgh Student Conservation Association

Pittsburgh Student Conservation Association

Finding Garlic Mustard Under The Trees

Finding Garlic Mustard Under The Trees


Reviewing what we'd identified

Reviewing what we'd identified

If you’d like more information about scheduling a wild edible walk for your group, please visit our wild event page. Or you can call Melissa at (412) 381-0116, or email to Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com.

Thanks!
~ Melissa Sokulski, Herbalist
Food Under Foot

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Early Spring Treat: Japanese Knotweed

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flowering garlic mustard down by the river

flowering garlic mustard down by the river

I love doing the wild edible walks at least once a month: you get to experience different plants bursting forth from the ground and different times, (I just found lamb’s quarters today! It wasn’t up yesterday for the walk) and watch the same plants change as the season progresses.

Sunday was our first Wild Edible Walk down by the Monongahela River on Pittsburgh’s South Side; one of our favorite places to walk.

We saw familiar weeds: dandelion, burdock, garlic mustard, mugwort and onion grass. But we got to experience something only available for a couple weeks a year: the tender young shoots of Japanese Knotweed.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Like asparagus, these delicacies are only available as they are shooting up from the ground. In a week or so the plant will be too tall, the stalks too woody. Now is the time to harvest the stalks, remove the leaves and peel away the red-speckled green skin. Underneath you’ll find a sour, tangy, juicy treat. This plant can be eaten raw as a trail-side snack (it is great to quench thirst on a hot spring day!), chopped raw in a creative raw food dish, or gently steamed and served like asparagus, with butter melted over top.

The plant itself looks a bit like bamboo with hollow jointed stalks. However they are not related to bamboo; it is actually in the buckwheat family. It also spreads like bamboo and is classified as a highly invasive weed.

It contains natural pesticides and herbicides: it take over whole areas, pushing out all other plant life. Some organic farmers have begun to use it in controlled ways to keep certain insects at bay without using chemicals.

It is also high in vitamins A and C, and has nutrients which help lower cholesterol, prevent heart attack, and even stave off Alzheimer’s.

For a wonderful review of the walk, with excellent pictures sharing their experience of the Japanese Knotweed, please visit our friends Jim and Wendi at Pure Jeevan.

Other great things we learned from participants on the walk:

  • Drinking dandelion juice can clear up life-long eczema! Juice dandelion greens with carrots, apples and lemons.
  • You can peel the knotweed just by peeling the skin back with your fingers…no peeler necessary!
  • Peeled knotweed tastes WAY BETTER than just biting into the stalk

Also, people were wondering which field guide I use/like: it is Edible Wild Plants, by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman.

And again, the recipe for the Dandelion Apple Cookies (Raw, Dehydrated) that we sampled at the walk yesterday is found below, in yesterday’s post.

Thanks so much!

~ Melissa

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