Workshops and Pine trees
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 !!
Basswood tree and misc.
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 ).
Plantain uses and workshop news
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.
Septembers plant and other news
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.
Next workshops, news..
The next workshops have been scheduled. The Wilderness Survival 101 will be October 22, 2022 and the Advanced Friction Fire will be September 17, 2022. Go to the 'workshops' tab to view or sign up.
I have started writing a column for our local Master Naturalist group, it is titled 'Natures Bounty. I hope you enjoy.
Pre 1600 AD just about every plant, animal, tree and rock had a unique purpose, there were some plants and trees that filled multiple roles and the Pawpaw tree ( native here ) is one of them.
The fruit speaks for itself and will start ripening here late August/early September and it packs a pretty good nutritional punch. The fruit can be eaten raw just like a peach or any other fruit. It can be used in any recipe that banana is called for ( they have similar taste ), custards, breads or my favorite way is making smoothies with them ( 60% frozen pawpaw, protein powder, chopped ginger, touch of maple syrup and fill the remainder of the blender with vanilla oat milk ). The pics show the process and tools for making frozen Pawpaw pulp. After processing the pulp I scatter the discarded seeds through my woods and it's amazing how many will germinate on their own.
The wood of the Pawpaw is one of the best materials for friction fire fireboards. The inner bark makes a very serviceable cordage ( rope ) and the shredded bark will make an adequate tinder bundle.
The dried and powdered seeds make a natural head lice control and some modern lice control treatments still use the same compounds ( Purdue University ).
Lastly, for you butterfly folks, the Pawpaw leaves are the only food source for Zebra Swallowtail larvae to feed on.
The Pawpaw’s range seems to be spreading, there are quite a lot of them now in Central Va.
Hi all, the next Wilderness Survival workshop will be April 16, 2022 at Pleasant Grove Park in Palmyra, Va. 22963. It's a great location, suitable for any weather, has good cell service and restroom. I hope you can join us !! www.stevepullinger.com/wilderness-survival-workshop.html
Thank you Facebook followers for reaching 500 !! I hope to continue posting useful information regarding wilderness survival and primitive technology. www.facebook.com/primitivesurvivalskills
It is still cold and snowy but this is a great time of year to practice friction fire, cordage or hide work. Go outside after a rain or snow and try your fire making skills. Remember the 5 P's... Prior Practice Prevents Poor Performance
Stay tuned for a basket making 101 workshop and an edible/medicinal/utilitarian plant walk, hopefully I will have these scheduled for mid spring. Look for an Advanced Friction Fire workshop in May or June.
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