Precautionary Warning!The Other Side of the Coin


I was thinking the other day, and it dawned on me that I should

Ramie Goddard 2012
Nest in a Shoe

give a few rules for foraging among all the wild plants on this earth.

There is the other side of the coin in every subject in existence. Good and bad, Light and dark battling against each other for top billing! So is your glass half full or half empty? I prefer picking neither… mine is plumb full with an occasional spill. Oh I have days when I’m dehydrated but for the most part all my days are full. I’m going to talk to you about exercising caution as you forage and try new things from the wild. You are now going to see an aspect of my personality. ~~~~~

Simple things delight me! It can make me go on a tangent of major proportions.

Like the picture on the right… my brother in WV, Ramie was mowing grass, and

came across these boots thrown over a limb. The birds thought it looked like a nice

condo. I love seeing things like this. Look at the construction of the nest.

How superb. Hope he gets to see when the eggs hatch~

OK…OK…I’m back to the subject!

The first thing is to research the plant you are thinking of eating. Is there a plant that is so similar that you could confuse the two plants? You ever hear the saying that carpenters have, “Measure twice, cut once!”. It’s kind of that way with plant foraging. You have to check your facts twice or more. If you are uncertain then don’t eat it.

Here is a check list I found on Wikihow:

http://www.wikihow.com/Test-if-a-Plant-Is-Edible

Please go and check it out. Make sure of what you are doing. There are skin tests and taste tests. There is so much information in books and on the internet that it should be fairly easy to check things out. One thing you can do is find things that don’t have  a copy cat. I found out that Wild carrots (Queen Anne’s Lace) has a plant that’s similar called Hemlock. Socrates, let’s see…he died from drinking something with Hemlock in it?… I think. Extremely poisonous but I thought it seems there are some pretty obvious differences. Wild Carrot has hairy stem that’s plain and one color where as Hemlock has purple flecks in the stems. The groups of flower heads  of the QAL are more tightly grouped together while the Hemlock has small groups that make up a larger whole flower head and are more loosely grouped together.

Poison Hemlock Flower

Even though this isn’t from the Northeastern US, the simple straightforward description from Washington State @ http://www.co.stevens.wa.us/weedboard/other%20weeds/HTM%20pages/poison%20hemlock.htm is the easiest one to follow and doesn’t seem to have any differences from this area.

Poison hemlock
Conium maculatum                       
Parsley family

Key identifying traits (more in a second year plant). First year plants are harder to distinguish. Much shorter first year.


  • A big plant normally 6 to 8 feet tall
  • Flowers are small and white consisting of 5 petals and borne in numerous umbrella like clusters
  • Stems are erect, stout, and purple spotted with distinct ridges and extensively branched
  • Leaves are fern like and have a musty odor

    Poison Hemlock ~ Smooth Speckled Stem

  • Has a large white fleshy tap-root
  • Seeds are paired, 1/8 inch long, brown, ribbed and concave
  • Musty Smelling Plant
  • NO BENEFICIAL USE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Queen Anne’s Lace              

(Daucus carota  ~  Carrot Family)

  • A medium size plant normally 4 feet at its tallest
  • Stems are hairy and solid green
  • The leaves of the wild carrot can cause phyto-photodermatitis, so caution should also be used when handling the plant.
  • Flowers are similar to the hemlock but are packed together tighter and there is a red dot right in the middle of the entire umbrella of blossom clusters which attracts wasps
  • The root is edible when it’s young but grow extremely woody as it ages
  • INTERESTING BENEFITS: This species is also documented to boost tomato plant production when kept nearby, and it can provide a microclimate of cooler, moister air for lettuce, when inter-cropped with it.
  • Distinct Carrot smell in the leaves and in the root

Queen Anne’s Lace with Blue Chicory

So you can see by this one example that it is important to do your homework. When in doubt…. don’t. That is the best practice for a foragers.

I love sharing nature with you and I hope you will become excited about the things that have been provided for our benefit. Let me know if you go foraging and what you find. I would be so excited to hear about your adventures. Thanks for coming for a visit.  Be Careful and See you soon.       Jan

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Learning to Forage


It’s been so nice outside and when it is, I find anything I can do so I can enjoy the weather. It’s been chilly but not bad. Before it rained a few days ago, I planted zinnias and marigold seeds. We planted more plant starts out in the garden too. The rain helps them get started better than watering. Why is that? Is it that it is more natural? I just know that I am always glad when it rains. It cleans and waters and makes all things fresh.

Carya glabra

Hickory Nuts

I found a hickory tree near by with tons of nuts strewn under it. I brought a few home at first and cracked and tasted them. The nut meats were so sweet and good. I found them hard to crack and not have a million little pieces so I went to the internet and started searching for a way to get the nut meats out in more whole pieces. We are so spoiled. Factories crack them with a machine and you go to the store and buy packages of nuts without any little pieces. I have a very patient friend in Arkansas who gathers black walnuts and saves the nut meats. She has jars and jars of them but they are all in little tiny pieces. I love them and when she gives me a jar, I know how many hours of work went into gathering those precious gems of flavor  and nutrition. I am going to have to develop my persistence and tenacity to forage food from around me. It definitely takes patience and determination. I watched a few videos that showed a man cracking these nuts and taking out whole nut meats. He cracked it all over with a hammer or a stone, like a boiled egg and then gently picked the shell off piece by piece.That’s my goal.

Queen Anne's Lace (Wild Carrot)

I gathered dandelion greens early this year before they started blooming. I was told that they aren’t good after the blooms start. They were delicious. That wasn’t hard.

I spotted some wild onions  and wild carrots. I knew about the onions before and had heard of the carrots but had never investigated them. I don’t know that I will gather the roots of the wild carrots but if I ever needed to I could now. The research I did said they are not tender, sweet and good like their garden cousin. The big surprise was that the wild carrots was a plant that I have always called Queen Anne’s Lace. I never looked at the leaves because of the beauty of the bloom. I wonder what God was thinking when He put the one small purple dot in the middle of the bloom? You will see these along the road or in a field. The blue flower is Chicory and the roots can be roasted and ground to use as a coffee substitute.

Ever use pine nuts in a recipe. I have a couple Sicilian recipes that have them in them. I had no idea where they came from nor why they were called pine nuts. Now I know that they are little seeds hidden under every scale of the pine cone. I read that you pick them up off the ground or pick off the tree when they are tight together not more opened.

They are high in protein and fiber but after you get them out of the pine cone you still have to crack a shell similar to a sunflower seed from around the nut.

After I gathered them, I wrapped a cookie sheet with foil to protect it from the sap, and baked them for an hour at 200 degrees. Amazingly the scaled started lifting apart so the seeds could drop out. The pine smell while I did that was very pleasant.

It is good to know how to do these things. I do know that some things, I will probably not do on a day-to-day basis because of how hard it is. I want to become proficient at it so that what things are worth it to me to do… I will do and the rest I will store in the recesses of my brain for a rainy day when it might come in handy. That makes good sense, doesn’t it?

When all six of our children were home, we didn’t have a lot of money. I’m sure there were times when they felt it but I tried very hard to focus on things much more important than money.  We used what we had in the most creative way we could. I focused on the things in life that are free. Nature, God, Music, Books, and felt wealthy for all that was available to us. I don’t regret one day of my life. It is a gift!

Thanks for dropping by, Love having you visit and come again,                                                     Jan

P.S.   Had to show you this idea for the garden. I saw it on http://www.gardeners.com. It is an awesome way to save space in the garden. It shows it for cucumbers but I think it could be used for any of the smaller spreading crops like squash or muskmelon. There is a wealth of  great ideas available.

Cucumber or Vegetable Trellis

Journey Along the Garden Path

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