Plant Ideas

Plant Ideas at Trellis Conference 2014

We had a great day out at theTrellis Conference in Perth.  Lots of folk embraced the opportunity to sample our offerings of wild plant based foods and remedies.  You could tell everyone there has a passion for plants and a strong belief in the therpeutic benefits of working closely with the land.  The many projects under the umbrella of Trellis are inspiring in their ideas and ingenuity as well as heartwarming and humbling on the amount of support offered on a voluntary basis.  Please check out their website for a list of member projects, there may be one near you.

 

http://www.trellisscotland.org.uk/

 

People generously gave much advice for our young business, including Jim McColl of the Beechgrove Garden!  Well appreciated.

Our new banner :)

 

tasty tasters of wild garlic pesto and nettle seed gomasio

 

kits on display

 

Elderberry rob, Rosehip and Elderflower syrup, Rosehip and Apple Jelly,Pine resin infused oil, St

John's Wort oil, range of salves including Calendula and Bog Myrtle

 

Scot's Pine ( Pinus sylvestris)

 preparing to make pine infused oil
 
Conifer resin has long been used as medicine, perfume, incense, sealant and more.  In it's fossilized form we know it as amber.  Our native Scot's Pine is grown most often for it's timber but let's not overlook the multitude of benefits we can harvest without destroying the tree itself, leaving our woodlands intact.
 
 sorting the resin
 
 harvesting pine needles

Resin circulates through the trunk being readily available to seal off injuries to the tree, protecting it from infestation or microbial invasion,  a little clue as to how it may be useful to us.  In order to harvest resin sustainably we should take from dead, fallen branches or collect from the trunk of a living tree only where it has dripped or run from a wound, avoiding the wound area itself.

Resin is lipid and alcohol soluble therefore the best ways to free up the active constituents are with tinctures and infused oils.

 

powdering the resin

bruising the needles

Using new growth needles and twigs along with resin in an infused oil lends a range of scents and properties.  Powder the resin with a pestle and mortar before infusing in oil and bruise or chop the needles and twigs to release more of the active constituents.  Keep the infusion in a warm place shaking each day before straining.  To speed up the process a slow cooker or double boiler can be used.  The pure resin will dissolve completely in the oil.  The oil has a lovely aroma and can be used to make salves, creams and massage oil blends.  Applied topically it stimulates circulation to soothe the pain of inflamed joints and stiff, sore muscles.  As a first aid salve it is a great healer for cuts and abrasions protecting against infection.  It can also be used to draw splinters and boils.

 

oil infusing in slow cooker

Pine resin is highly anti-microbial and in tincture form can be used as a mouthwash, it is strong medicine and only a tiny amount of the tincture diluted in water is needed.  It is an effective expectorant and can be inhaled as incense, try sprinkling some resin on a woodburner top or candle, or use fresh twigs and needles in a steam bath.  Pine needle tea is popular among bushcrafters as a good source of vitamin C.

In perfume making pine resin offers a woody note and is a wonderful base, promoting longevity in scent combinations.

Fungi Foray, Linn of Dee

The Home Ed group's Fungi Foray at the Linn of Dee.

We were very lucky to have had Liz Holden expertly guide us through an introduction to fungi on her home turf.  See the following link for details of how to contact Liz.

https://sites.google.com/site/scottishfungi/consultant-mycologists/consultant-details/lizholden

My reality filter shifted within the first few minutes as I tuned into experiencing the environment around me as one entity.  When out on a mission to forage we get so focussed on our prize that we see it as distinct from all else but Liz's introductory explanation really brought everything together with an awareness of the connection between the kingdoms and how in biodiverse habitats, together there is resilience but alone there is vulnerablitiy.  A great headspace to forage in reminding us to be sustainable with our harvests.

The vast majority of fungi break down dead plant and animal matter but a few are parasitic and many are in a mychorrizal relationship with trees, in fact fungi provide trees with 15% of their nutrients.  Importantly, fungi break down the forest litter for uptake by all sorts of invertebrates and plants.  In fact fungi are the only organisms that can break down lignin - the tough cells in trees - we've all seen the bracket fungi like dryads saddle, birch polypore (razorstrop) and horse hoof fungi, on dead trees doing just that.  Something to look out for: many of the reproductive fungal spores depend on gravity for dispersal, being released from underneath the cap.  If a dead tree standing gives way and becomes horizantal on the forest floor any bracket fungi on the tree will ever so slowly re orient themselves until their undersides are again parallel with the ground - very cool!

Useful pointers for identification were offered, three particular features to look out for:  veils, spores and gills.

When IDing a fungi new to you be sure to lift the whole fruiting body rather that cut at the base of the stem.  This way you can look for signs of a veil - a fine structure that encased the young fruiting body.   As the mushroom forms and grows, the veil bursts, some falling like a skirt around the base of the stem and some leaving residual spots on the cap - enter the iconic fly agaric!  Much depends on what the fungi have been through before you get to it, the spots could have been washed or  rubbed off.  Sometimes vibrant colours of cap can fade.  Some veils are fairly substantial and leave clear signs for us to read while others are almost ethereal and just the faintest cobwebby trails can be found, if any.

The spores of fungi can provide us with a great investigation adventure.  Sometimes we find signs of spores on the ground below mushrooms and it can be clear what colour they are but most of the time we have to get out the detective kit to investigate further.  Remove the cap and place gill side down on clear glass, put a drop of water on top and cover with a glass, leave for a while and you should be left with a beautiful spore print.  Spore colour can surpise us as they often differ from the gills.  Spore shapes can be a more thorough identification aid but requires a microscope.

Now for the gills.  These are positioned perpendiclar to the ground and the spores are arranged along the length of them.  In some species gills can reach some distance down the stalk, like the chanterelles.

Other fungi parasiting on our target species can trick us if we are unaware of the parasites presence and ID it's spores instead.   A very common fungi and one that is easy to misidentify, even for experts is the aptly named deciever.  As mentioned,  we don't know what the fungi has been through before we get to it and the deciever is a great example of a fruiting body that can dispay a huge range of colours given different conditions.

Snake's Tongue

False Truffle

A lovely surprise was the discovery of a false truffle - snakes tongue, a black and rather sinister looking fungi,  is the indication that buried below will be a false truffle - this was a lovely surprise, totally new to me.  The Snakes Tongue fungi parasite on these truffles. The spores are contained deep inside and the truffle is designed to be eaten with the hope of being delivered with its own helping of compost.

Something for a giggle.  Puffballs which kids love to tap with their feet to release clouds of green spores have a great Latin name - Lycoperdon pyriforme meaning Wolf Fart!  But on a more serious note puffballs provide us with an effective styptic, perfect for bushcraft first aid. It is believed that the spores are the perfect size to block capilliaries.

For sustainable harvesting please remember not to take everything, leave plenty for the invertebrates and other animals that depend on them.  Also a good point to remember is that trampling actually does more damage than picking.  There has been studies done to prove this so fairy steps through the woods and a keen eye for the path of least destruction!

When hunting edibles its important to remember that you have to be sure, cross reference, go out with experienced pickers and remember in countries where foarging is more common they have a strong cultural knowledge and sometimes a infrastructure to support them, for example, in France you can take your specimens to the local pharmacy to get a postive ID.  Fungi have a multiude of benefits to us and we've probably just seen the tip of the iceberg.

 

 

workshops

It's not just festivals we go to...

Have us come and run a workshop in your house, village hall, community centre. Learn how to make your own natural lip balm, moisturiser, bath melts, massage bars, face masks and deodorants. You get to keep what you make for either yourself or to give away as gifts.

A friendly, fun and informative workshop run by Eleanor and Natasha with all the ingredients you need supplied.

Having a birthday? hen party? kids party? family celebration? Girls night in? Community event? 

Let us show you how to pamper yourself and make your own skin care products.

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Workshops last 2 hours. £25 per person attending inc all materials.
Min 6 people - Max 12 people per party/event, although contact us if there are more of you.
I'm sure we can work something out..

You can't buy these natural products for these prices! And you gain the knowledge of how to make them again for when they run out.

Contact us to discuss your plans, we'll accommodate as much as we can.

07770 894412 or use our contact page

 

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