odiousgambit's Blog

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Expanding on an Edible LawnMarch 9th, 2017 at 4:01:05 am
My lawn seems to be a naturally good choice for picking wild edibles. I don't use any poisons on the lawn and don't go after weeds, concern about perfect golf green condition being a monumental waste of time in my book. I probably want to tick off anybody who wants their lawn to look perfect anyway, hopefully they will go away and realize we can't possibly be friends. Turns out a lot of these 'weeds' are edible, the wild onion, poke, and dandelion already seen on my plate, witness other blog posts, so I am expanding the menu this year.

Identified and ate what I think is "curly dock" yesterday and will also investigate "mallow". The words "I think" may alarm you, but I have the book Wild Edible Plants by Kallas, which has alleviated my fears for the most part. Basically, what grows naturally and looks anything like dandelions is not likely to harm you and is likely quite edible. The main concern is unpalatable result if the wrong thing is picked, and that you determine yourself. Additionally, eating a small amount the first time is just common sense. The book, extensive and with excellent color photos, mentions for low plants only 'scarlet pimpernel' as something to avoid. This plant is mostly a problem for livestock, being unpalatable to us, and is fairly easy to identify; looks nothing like the dandelions etc. I seem to have it in places, although it could be a false version; nonetheless it will be avoided.

If I was finding wild spinach - the author is nuts about it - I'd also have to look out for 'hairy nightshade', which also is a tall plant and a look-alike to be avoided. I seem to have the nightshade in places, but no wild spinach.

So I will keep you posted.

March 9th, 2017 at 1:03:24 pm
Dude, what? Nightshade? The assassin's plant?

Either I need to read better or you need to check your book. You'll be dead before the appetizers come.
March 9th, 2017 at 5:09:53 pm
what I mean by "have to look out for" is to find it to avoid it. Sorry it's not clear. If the forager thinks he has found wild spinach, the book says to make sure it isn't nightshade, you see.

I'll edit that I guess, thanks. Perhaps as a better writer, you still can relate to how hard it is to write something and avoid misunderstandings.
March 9th, 2017 at 5:11:43 pm
oh, upon editing, I see I really f-d it up. It should read better now.
March 10th, 2017 at 4:26:34 am
Love it! I agree the "golf course lawn" is silly for many reasons. I had a few wild strawberries until I made my entire back yard garden. I have no front yard.

Are you going to do some planting or just keep up the gathering?
March 10th, 2017 at 6:00:16 am
so far so good, as far as harvesting something and deciding I misidentified it btw.

>Are you going to do some planting or just keep up the gathering?

the author isn't keen on planting if you have good foraging, so I agree. If I found wild spinach somewhere else I might try to plant that
March 11th, 2017 at 5:43:27 am
Its not just what plant but also what time of year. Stinging Nettles make great soups and teas but at certain times of the year are quite toxic.

There is still some dispute as to what it was that "Into The Wild" guy was eating in his abandoned bus in Alaska and how it killed him.

Plants often have several names in different areas and often the names overlap. Even Jimson, the "loco weed" in Westerns can be mis-identified.
March 11th, 2017 at 6:06:36 am
>also what time of year

as it gets into summer, the stuff is just not as tender and will be stronger tasting. Even dandelions get dubious.
March 11th, 2017 at 1:46:26 pm
Many flowers used to be candied. Candied violets, roses, borage, etc. Snacks, add color to dishes, toppings.
Don't forget tree leaves: candied willow and cottonwood tree leaves with white-fir ice cream is great stuff. The candying process removes the bitter tasting tannins.
Of course today's headlines feature some hospitalizations in San Francisco due to acconite poisoning. You can see the many names for the same item and you can understand how even commercial suppliers have to deal with mistakes in their supply chain.
Have you tried making beer from ants then using the beer to ferment quail eggs?
March 11th, 2017 at 1:59:37 pm
>Have you tried making beer from ants then using the beer to ferment quail eggs?

you may have found the cap for me on my adventurous foraging spirit
August 1st, 2017 at 6:01:49 am
An electronic friend of mine just used fruit flies to innoculate his elderberry wine.

Ants: Secret WeaponSeptember 17th, 2016 at 4:31:49 am
I was replying to a brother about how I have been killing ants and decided to post it here too.

Regarding the water, yes, an exterminator told us that too. Water has to be nearby, so if they are coming in at the ceiling area, you probably have a roof leak, and indeed we found one. Oddly, the exterminator did not seem to want to check back with us, but they went away that time when a little tiny hole in the roof was fixed. We got them later coming in along the walls, and I finally settled on the original secret weapon LOL. I think I just saw it on the shelf at the store.

I found another secret weapon for the ants ...

The old weapon: it still works, but relies on contact, diatomaceous earth. A place that sells a lot of insect killing stuff should have it. I can get pretty big bags at the local Farmer's Coop, not so big bags at Tractor Supply. I don't know if you want to do this? but I actually drilled holes in the wall, pushed back the insulation, and ladled it in for hotspots. They hate coming in contact with that stuff, and it is non-poisonous. Dries them out I guess. Don't get it in your eyes. In spots I had to fix the walls, and it doesnt look that great there. Behind the cabinets I just taped over the holes.

This year they were figuring out how to come in and I was afraid I didn't know exactly the right spot to try the d.earth. I happened to be dealing with yellow jacket nests in the yard at the time and had some of that stuff that you spray in the hole in the ground and it is a foam. See link. It uses a little straw on the nozzle and I noticed a spot that I could slip the straw in over the sink where also the drill holing thing would be a pain in the ass. So I stuck the straw in and sprayed it good. That has been the end of those very persistent ants! Next time I might be quick to use this again, a very small hole is all that is needed. It is a poison of course, and it says nothing on the label about using it for ants or for indoors at all, so there is that to think about.

This new weapon:


September 17th, 2016 at 8:47:24 am
diatomaceous earth is a dessicant... it dries the ants out from the inside. Don't inhale it or get it into your air conditioning vents though.

black acorns should not be eaten since they require several soakings but its well known that the first or second rinse water from boiling black acorns will discourage ants. Contains tannins and lerps that make the ants sweat.
September 19th, 2016 at 7:54:51 am
Do you plant Pennyroyal around the perimeter of your house as an insect repellant? And wild grape leaves as an early warning system at the far edge of the yard followed by an inner perimeter of marigold? The wide broad grape leaves give you an opportunity to view all new insect arrivals.
October 8th, 2016 at 8:05:40 am
my wife does stuff with the flowers to help against insects - I don't keep up with it

but my favorite insect spray for the garden is derived entirely from chrysanthemum juice!

Wild Edibles off to Slow StartJuly 4th, 2016 at 1:36:23 pm
My wild edibles exploration has been pretty lame so far this year. I bought a good book for finding wild more salad-type greens, and should have been able to expand on the dandelion and onion. But honestly it has rained so much once spring started that any time I'm willing to give to 'the yard' this year has been taken up by the garden and mowing. Because of the rain, mowing has been quite a challenge this time around; of course I am up to it physically, but finding the motivation to keep up, not so much. As a result I have identified some of the things in the book and done nothing with them.

One discovery on my own though is that the wild onions early on hide a very tender and tasty part in the upper part of the shoot that cannot be found in the store variety of scallions. I've come to consider it quite a real secret delicacy.

I'm growing and canning a lot of collards and kale from the garden. As far as the wild edibles for that, I continue to add a smal portion of the poke I have encouraged to grow. Notorious as something poor people eat, you have to know what to do with it or you can poison yourself. We ate it when I was a kid, our family having poor people in the ancestral chain, but always mixed in with the other greens. I have actually come to think of it as an adulteration - something to mix in to stretch the quantity; probably such is the only proper use of it, and I do it as a nod to the past.

Next thing will be huckleberries again, my intention this year being to try and get the timing right for the best time to pick them. Early indications do not point to a bumper crop, but stay tuned.

PS: the blog the picture comes from tells an amusing story, but the author is wrong that the mere issue is the laxative effect if the poke is not thoroughly boiled and then drained and rinsed [I do it twice but some recommend 3 times]. There really is a poison involved, you can google that, and you can die eating untreated poke. Even proper treatment of the product doesn't yield something you can eat all the time. Poor people would sometimes get "poke-mouth" from eating too much and I swear I think I can remember people who had that - kind of a pale look around the mouth, along with cankers.

July 5th, 2016 at 12:25:23 pm
Yes, time of year and method of preparation can be vital. Just look at the ancient poetry regarding stinging nettles for instructions as to the time of year to harvest as food and for a tea.
Eating poor can be very healthy. Think of all the vitamins you get in a foraged green that you don't get from something that has been harvested and processed to death and shipped in warehouses for six months.
A can of mushroom soup can increase your intake of hormone disrupter Bisphenol A by 240 percent.
July 5th, 2016 at 12:27:57 pm
YOU never want a bumper crop of huckleberries... you want the birds, bees and passing hikers to enjoy them and leave the rest of your garden alone.
July 6th, 2016 at 11:05:28 am
Fleastiff, 'ain't nobody picking huckleberries' in VA that I know of - maybe just a handful of people these days, somewhere, that I never hear of. Maybe not even a handful. Now, elsewhere, they have huckleberry festivals - Montana comes to mind - presumably, a lot of pickers there.

In VA, too hot and muggy and buggy when they come in for modern folks. Plus, I'm getting convinced there are bad years, this is shaping up as that or as a delayed year. Evidence for the latter is not strong, so probably a bad year.

We had some huckleberry pickers in my grandparents day, a great uncle for sure would get them, and huckleberry pie was a favorite treat when visiting grandma. So, I do it as a result of buying wild edible books, and as a nod to the past, and because I don't know anyone else who does it. That latter part is probably kind of weird.
July 6th, 2016 at 4:46:46 pm
What about the Hucleberry Trail ? What about Huckleberry Ridge in Blackstone? What about the Punga Strawberry festival? What about the several Trailblazer Hiking groups in the state that hike trails and eat edible encounters, what about the raw foods groups in VA?
July 7th, 2016 at 3:10:07 am
Ain't talking about strawberries here, or blackberries etc., all of which have pickers in VA. The other things that come up in a google search for 'huckleberries virginia' just seem to be old names from the past attached to hiking or whatever. I don't have anyway of knowing how many huckleberry pickers there actually are, just that I have never met anyone who said they pick huckleberries. I checked blogs for a while, there are people who pick them in other states. Conditions are better, I think.

BTW I have plenty of wild strawberries around me. I resolved to pick them and slowly realized it would take forever to get as much as a bowlful, bent over the whole time. They just don't quite get thick enough, so to speak, to seem to be worth it. I have eaten them randomly plenty, when spotting a nice looking one. Oddly, they tend to have not too much flavor, kind of watery sometimes. So there's that too.

I actually have a wild peach tree nearby in the woods. I think it is a descendant, many generations, of a domestic variety. Each generation allowed to do this generates a wilder, more original, un-bred non-hybrid version [you see this happen with sunflowers too]. In this case it is a tasty but very small fruit. I tried to grow seedlings from the seeds but that failed for me, not sure why.
July 7th, 2016 at 5:36:37 am
What about making huckleberry wine salt? Or just huckleberry wine?

Strawberries do better either vertically or in a French Trellis (45degree angle).

Treat the peach as nature would and you can grow a new peach tree. In other words, score it with a knife as if some squirrels chompers had at it, let moisture and bacteria have at it for awhile and transport it well away from the existing tree... then plant it.

Edibles again: HuckleberriesJune 30th, 2015 at 3:11:37 am

Basically wild blueberries, although technically not a blueberry, only related. Much more flavor-packed than a blueberry. Honestly, pretty miserable to pick in VA due to heat and humidity this time of year ... but for some reason I really get into it. I may or may not pick raspberries or blackberries, usually don't, but huckleberries I dig. Not sure why but probably because I don't know anyone else who does it.

Yesterday it was slim pickings as you can see. Note also the berries are much smaller than commercial blueberries. The trick is to catch them at their peak, a small window for sure for that, but then it is [barely due to weather] worth doing.

I can really post a lot on this subject if encouraged [you have been warned LOL]

July 1st, 2015 at 6:37:10 pm
I have thousands of black raspberries this year.
July 1-15 is the peak period. Some patches
are so thick it's impossible to get into.
July 2nd, 2015 at 5:09:33 am
yes, and you are supposed to be out there picking them, Mister!

as we learned. You still able to get out of that?
July 3rd, 2015 at 6:22:45 pm
I've been bummed for a long time about raspberries. I remember picking bushels of them, gorging myself on them, having them always. They seemed to be always "there". Never had to stop play for eats, you could just eat right in the woods and keep on playing.

I cannot remember the last time I saw even a handful of ripe ones together. I find a bush and I might find not even 10. That ain't even a snack. Not really sure why they've decided to elude me nowadays. Maybe I'm just not in the right place at the right time
July 11th, 2015 at 3:29:18 am
the raspberries handy for me seem to be in decline, the bushes even seem to be disappearing. Just not enough handy this year to bother with
July 28th, 2015 at 12:59:15 pm
raspery tonic or rasberry wine?
all the hiking tonics that were popular in the sw when stills were unavailable.
September 7th, 2015 at 12:55:15 am
Instead of huckleberry, try the Bilberry. From Iceland to Finland its hand picked near the arctic circle, often by GAP year students. Makes a great jam/jelly and even greater beer (marketed as berry ale, but actually a fruit beer). Note: From the late thirties to near the end of the war, British and Canadian forces were encouraged to eat bilberry jam for night vision, the same way US sailors and Merchant Marine were encouraged to eat carrots for night vision. It was all part of the "bodyguard of lies" program from the Double Cross Committee created in order to delay the Germans from realizing that the allies had developed and were deploying millimeter wavelength radar rather than just following a diet to enrich their night vision.
January 12th, 2016 at 2:46:11 pm
glad to hear you will be posting more on this.... one of the best reference works just hit the pre=press on beers and tonics for hikers in the American Southwest and Mexico. No, that "I am not a Mexican" is not the author.
January 16th, 2016 at 4:39:36 am
>glad to hear you will be posting more

now you've done it! floodgates have opened! hope you meant huckleberries!

since I moved, found new patches over time and plan to hit em hard this year

Dandy Edible Plant ReconsideredApril 15th, 2015 at 3:23:46 am
I decided to give dandelions another try after bashing them in the last post. Didn't care for them when I tried them before, but I had tried them too late too, this is actually the time of year to do it.

This time I took a tool and dug some up properly instead of half-ass. When you cut off the roots and wash them off, this is what you get.

I made a salad and sampled the dandelions 'on the side'.

*The book says you should find the blanched part [next to the root] tasty but the rest maybe not. I found as I ate past the blanched it was still good, but stopped from eating it all just as you might with a green onion [scullion]. As the Spring wears on I suspect the other end gets less and less palatable.

*The contribution to the salad was similar to arugula. I wouldn't want an entire salad of dandelions or arugula either one, but as an ingredient.

*The nutritional value is there with various vitamins, including C. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2441/2

*They are certainly plentiful.

Final conclusion: might as well harvest some this time of year along with the wild onions. They are coming up while the regular garden is just getting started.

April 15th, 2015 at 8:28:14 pm
Just a heads up, cattails should be shooting any day now. If you're feeling brave, I'd hear a report. I hear they're best when they first shoot, before they get too fibrous and green.

I guess it's one of those plants of plenty. You can eat the shoots or the head straight away, or fry them. The roots can be peeled and pulverized to make flour, or boiled and chewed for their starch (spit out the fibres). As far as survival stuff, for something to give you the vitamins that meat and bugs doesn't, cattails provide much and can be eaten for all times they are green.

Maybe I'll just do it myself...
April 16th, 2015 at 8:30:21 am
Yes, the book is big on cattails. I'll keep an eye out for some, but often it is the case that cattails are in a place you get to in a boat. Right now I can't think of where I've got some handy. Please do check it out! I'm sure there are plenty of instructions on the net as to how to prepare them.

Speaking of Survival tactics - I have a modest interest in such - the fluffy head is one of the few things that work as true tinder. Sometimes 'tinder' is defined the same as kindling, but to survivalists tinder is the kind of stuff that will get going from a flint and steel spark. Mere kindling doesnt work for that; in fact there are few things you find in the woods that is true tinder. So, cattails are a pretty big deal to Survivalists all around.
April 17th, 2015 at 1:38:00 pm
Indeed they are. Birch also works if you find yourself away from the swamp. The paper-like bark can be processed by hand into little more than fluff, though the younger trees prove more difficult. The older trees are best as you can often find bark that is already peeling and dry. Fortunately for us, both should be within a walk of where we'd find ourselves stuck.
April 17th, 2015 at 3:56:53 pm
Dent de Lion easily became named dandylions. Arugula is native to North America, not Italy. Just about anything fresh from a garden is going to be better than something processed and steam tabled. Sailors often grow sprouts for vitamins and poor fishing results.
April 18th, 2015 at 2:05:40 pm
one thing for sure, all tinder must be absolutely dry to catch from spark - like Sahara desert dry
April 19th, 2015 at 12:49:27 am
Please let us know if you get any quotes from a weed broker for your dandelions. One man claims 900 dollars per season but gives few details.

Tinder/kindling/flint: You would probably be kicked out of a black powder roundup but outfitters sell this paint tube stuff that will set fire to a log that is soaking wet. I'd go with that stuff in a survival pack rather than trying to rub two boy scouts together to start a fire. The trouble with fires is that they give away your position to the Game Warden.
April 19th, 2015 at 3:26:25 am
>go with that stuff in a survival pack rather than ...

Survival Skill imagination goes pretty far ... like imagining that you somehow wound up in the wilderness with nothing but the real basics and in a mess. You have matches you thought were waterproof but with what you have to strike them on etc, they are a bust. But, your back up is flint and steel [this is actually often recommended]. Now you need to find tinder ... it won't work on kindling.

With the kind of warfare today seems the military teaches a lot of survival tactics now. Guys get interested in the whole subject. Hunting magazines usually have an article on it.
April 19th, 2015 at 9:36:54 pm
Yeah, there are some people who carry a brass water tight match case with waxed matches... and give half of their supply to a companion to carry so that if anything happens to one person, not all matches are lost.
July 27th, 2015 at 2:22:36 pm
so any dandelion jelly yet?
any dandelion beer yet?
any dandelion wine yet?
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