The exciting news is the upcoming Sept. 8-10 workshop collaboration with Emerald Mountain Sanctuary in Highland county, Va. We will be holding a weekend intensive on Foraging, Wildcrafting and Wilderness Survival basics on in Highland county, Va. Tent camping, men's and women's bathrooms and showers. All food ( except Friday dinner ) and materials are supplied. www.stevepullinger.com/wilderness-survival-foraging-and-wildcrafting-weekend.html This will be fun and educational, hope you can attend.
The Plantain plants are seeding out now, narrow and wide leaf. The leaves of both plants are renown for their bee sting relief properties as well as other skin irritations. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and the seed heads are edible as well. They can be used in soups or dried/ground into flour. It is one of our more versatile plants and also not native. The accompanying photo is of the narrow leaf Plantain seed heads.
The registration for the July 15 Advanced Friction fire workshop is now closed, I will schedule another for this fall.
As always, keep practicing your skills and try to learn a new plant each month and how to use them.
The next Advanced Friction Fire workshop is July 15, 2023 and there are spots open. https://www.stevepullinger.com/advanced-friction-fire-workshop.html I will be having an edible/utilitarian plant walk late summer/early fall, more on that later.
Also, I am excited to announce that Emerald Mountain Sanctuary and I will be hosting a weekend intensive on Wilderness Survival and Wildcrafting. This camping weekend will be in the beautiful mountains of Highland county, Va. and will cover basic Wilderness survival skills and a full day on edible and medicinal plants. I will post the above 2 programs once all the details are worked out. Keep an eye on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/primitivesurvivalskills or webpage, https://www.stevepullinger.com/ , for dates and itinerary.
Stinging Nettle is one of my super plants. It is edible in so many ways, so much in fact, that I'm including this link by chef Alan Bergo. https://foragerchef.com/nettles/ Personally I like nettles as a cooked green like spinach or kale. I boil them, eat the greens and save the leftover water in ice cube trays and freeze it for bean soup stock. I've also used fresh nettles in stir frys and for teas. This year I am drying gallons of leaves for teas and will also add them to winter soups and stews. Nutritionally, nettles have twice the calcium as milk, it has more protein than any other green and it has more vitamins and minerals than kale or asparagus.
There are more medicinal uses to even list here but it is no problem finding all this info online. Roman soldiers were said to rub the leaves on their bodies to promote circulation in order to stay warm.
The nettle stems make an excellent cordage, they can be made into fibers similar to hemp and flax for clothing. Since the fibers are hollow it provides insulation. German soldiers used nettle fibers for their uniforms in WW1 and used the leaves to dye their uniforms in WW2.
When harvesting, make sure to wear long sleeved tops and sturdy gloves, the stings will last for hours. If stung, wash with cold, soapy water. Another method is to rub crushed dock leaves on it, the old saying is 'nettle in and dock out'. Once nettle leaves are cooked or dried the sting is neutralized.
If you plant stinging nettle, be sure to keep an eye on it. It will spread and take over, which may not be a bad thing, my nettle patch is over 1/2 acre now.
It's been a busy month or so with workshops. I've had the pleasure to teach primitive technology for 5 days of school programs. I do this for employment but I also do this to get the kids outside and interested in nature. Once you hook them on fire making or fishing or some other type of outdoor pursuit, that love will always be with them. I have always said, my fire pit will win out over a video game 9 out of 10 times.
I have 2 edible/utilitarian plant walks this coming week, I do enjoy doing these as I always learn something from the class. Speaking of plants, now is the best time to munch on all of the spring ephemerals.
The next Wilderness Survival workshop is May 6, 2023 at Pleasant Grove Park in Palmyra VA. 22963. There are still some spots left if you're interested. www.stevepullinger.com/wilderness-survival-workshop.html
Here's my next Master Naturalist article, it's on pine trees which is very timely with all the pollen on my windshield this morning.
Now that it's April and everyone's car is covered in yellow dust, let's talk about pine trees and their uses.
Pine tree pollen is extremely rich in nutrients, you can shake the emerging flowers/cones in a bag to catch the pollen or just brush it off of a clean, smooth surface. The pollen can be mixed with other flours or just put in soups as a thickener. The inner bark, cambium layer, can be eaten raw or roasted. Once roasted, they are similar to potato chips and they also can be ground into a powder and used for flour.
Pine needles are extremely high in Vit. C and make a really good winter drink when camping. Crush a handful of leaves, put them in a cup and fill the cup with water that is 160 to 180 degrees. After 10 minutes, strain the tea and add your favorite sweetener to make a very healthy and refreshing drink. I have made pine needle tea with Autumn Olive flowers, both steeped at the same time. After straining, I added a touch of Maple Syrup and it was really good.
Pine twigs are one of the best fire making materials. The lower limbs on most pines die but stay on the tree where they stay dry and easy to reach. All pine wood burns well as it contains the chemical terpene, the precursor to turpentine.
Pine resin/sap can be used for torches, mixed with wood ashes to make glue and it has medicinal properties as well.
Pine bows are the best material for emergency shelter building and when layered properly, they make a pretty comfy mattress.
So the next morning you're cursing the yellow coating on the windshield, think food !
Thanks for reading, Go out and try some new plants this spring !!
First thing, thank you everyone who attended the Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 workshops. Both days had really good groups and we all left with more knowledge than when we started. There are no winter workshops scheduled at this point but I am always up to doing a private workshop if you have 6 or more people.
Below is my latest Master Naturalist plant article.
'The Basswood tree ( Linden )
The Basswood is by far my favorite tree. The Basswood has edible parts all year long, it can be used medicinally and has many utilitarian uses. This tree grows from the western Piedmont, there are a few in the Cville area, all the way to the W. Va. line. It likes moisture and rocks and seems to like slopes best. In the summer, you can see pockets of them literally a mile away by their silver/dark green leaf color.
In the spring, you can drink limited amounts of the sap, it is very high in sugar, or you can boil the sap down into a usable syrup. The young leaves and buds can be eaten raw or the leaves can be cooked. During the summer, the flowers can be eaten raw or cooked and the nectar is one of the better honey producers ( upstate NY mostly depends on Basswoods for its honey crop ). Late summer/fall the seeds/nuts are edible and in the winter/early spring, the inner bark can be eaten raw, cooked or dried to be used as flour later on.
Medicinally, bark tea or poultices can be used to treat burns. The flowers have flavonoids and are a mild sedative. The leaves can be used to treat fevers and cellulitis. There are other uses for this great tree but please do your own herbal homework. The soft, light wood was used for the first prosthetics.
From a primitive technology viewpoint, this tree is nothing short of amazing. The wood is the number one material for the friction fire fire board. The bark makes great bast ( a fibrous material, hence the tree's name ). Plus, the wood is used commercially for veneer and crates/boxes. The inner bark makes a very useful, prolific but not strong cordage used for mats, belts, baskets and bags. The wood can be carved into bowls/spoons.'
I always have folks coming to my workshops who don't own a knife. I really recommend the Morakniv brand of knives and the Companion is a very good introductory knife. It is not a heavy duty camp knife but it is inexpensive, sharp, rust proof and easy to carry w/o a belt. You can also get it with a small ferro rod in the handle. www.industrialrev.com/morakniv/companions/
This is a great time of year to practice your fire making skills, try different methods of starting fires and go out after a hard rain and try your luck ( or skill ).
The next Wilderness Survival workshop is October 22, 2022 and there are still a few slots open and it looks like I'll have another on Nov. 5 for the folks who cannot make October's.
The Advanced Friction Fire workshop for this weekend is now closed. The next Wilderness Survival workshop will be Oct. 22, 2022 in Fluvanna county at the Pleasant Grove Park in Palmyra ( 22963 ).
I do a monthly utilitarian plant article for our local Master Naturalist newsletter and here's this months column, on the Mullein.
"This month's plant, Mullein, is another one that has many uses. Mullein is not native to North America but it is to Asia, Africa and Europe. It was first brought to this country in the mid-1700's as a fish poison ( more on that later in this column ), but it was widely naturalized by 1800. It is one of those introduced plants that is not an enemy but an amazing plant to have around.
Medicinally, the Mullein has too many uses to list here, but there is so much info online. Personally, I use the dried leaf as part of my 'bad cold' tea cure ( mixed with 1/3 Elderberry flower and 1/3 Yarrow plant ). Many years ago, pre internet, my very young son suffered from chronic, severe ear aches. All the docs wanted to do invasive procedures so we did our homework in all the available books at the time and found a natural cure. Get a small jar and fill it with the yellow Mullein flowers ( fresh or dried ) and top this off with olive oil. Let this sit, ideally for several weeks, but in an emergency overnight does adequately. Strain the olive oil, warm in a pan and then use a dropper and put several drops in each affected ear. It worked within one week, and he had no more ear ache issues.
Looking at the Mullein through the eyes of a primitive technologist, it would be one of the top plants to have around. The dried flower stalk works for the spindle in friction fire. For fishing, the dried seeds, mixed in small dough balls, thrown into the water and digested, will temporarily stun fish. The fish do not die or suffer long term effects, but they are easy to catch by hand for a short period of time. Our DWR would frown on this type of harvesting, but in an emergency.... The stalks w/seed heads can be used as torches, the leaves make insulating inner soles for shoes, and I have read that the leaf actually has a chemical that stimulates foot circulation. Europeans prized the leaves as TP, but I have too much respect for this plant to use it in that manner.
If this plant sounds good to you, just harvest some seeds and broadcast. The new rosettes will appear the first season, and the tall flower stalks/blooms will appear the second year and then the plant dies after seeding out."
Foraging has been good the past few weeks. I have harvested Pawpaws and several mushrooms ; Chicken in the Woods, Golden Chanterelles and Lions Mane. The acorns, hickories and Beeches all seem to have a good crop this year if you want to try them. There are many ways to use nut meats in flour, oils or eating them as they are.
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