Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

Click here to read the Ezine Archives

  • Tuesday, November 12, 2013 10:30 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green greetings of joy to you all!

    The last of the live-in apprentices and all of the live-out apprentices have now completed their studies and graduated. Congratulations to you all!! Praise for your hard work!

    Meanwhile, let us return to the pick-your-own CSA farm, where we were last week. Beyond the rows of herbs, the flower garden is mostly dead, except for some straw flowers and snapdragons, still bravely blooming.

    The ground under the wall of cherry tomatoes is aflame with red and orange dropped tomatoes, and, miraculously, some of them are still intact and tasty. Ever since my first garden in 1969 it has been my goal to have fresh tomatoes in the salad on Thanksgiving, and I believe I will achieve my goal again this year.

    Further along, the tomatillo leaves are wilted and dead, but the fruits are firm, and many have finally ripened into yellow. I am looking forward to putting up a few more jars of tomatillo lacto-ferment relish and to trying out some new tomatillo recipes I found. Here, at the end of this long row, are the husk tomatoes. They seem frozen in place, frozen in time. The little tomatoes in their papery coverings are firm and fine but I can’t find any that have ripened fully and the green ones I picked a month ago are still green, so leave them on the vines.

    Out in the picked-over, cleared-out pumpkin patch, the chickweed is making the most of an opportunity to cover the open ground, though, in places, the purslane is holding its own. Let’s stop for a while and harvest lots of the little star lady, or maidenwort, two of my pet names for chickweed. What will we do with this bounty? Chickweed pesto, chickweed tincture, chickweed oil, chickweed in salads, oh my!

    Look! Here at the ends of the harvested rows of greens are a few remaining plants from each row: Here is arugula, and mitzuna, and kale. All three are members of the cabbage family; and they like it cold!! Indeed, the mitzuna and the arugula are both flowering. Frosty mornings make them smile.

    And as we gather our treasures and head on back to the car, we are greeted by masses of Barbara’s cress and lots of shepherd’s purse, more cabbage family plants making the most of the short sunny days and frosty nights.

    It’s goodbye to the CSA garden for this year, but we will be back. How about you?

    We had a spectacular work weekend; had lots of fun and got lots of work done. We ate lots of vegetable soup that I made with the broth I cooked up last week. Yummy!

    There are still leaves to rake and compost to move. There are two more work weekends at the Wise Woman Center. Look for my 2014 schedule, coming soon, to learn what I’ll be doing next year.

    Green blessings to everyone

    Ps. next week’s ezine will probably be late as I will be in Toronto at the Naturopathic Doctors’ Conference for the entire weekend.

    ~ Weed Walk ~

  • Tuesday, November 05, 2013 12:40 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Vegetable Soup Stock

    A quart of this in the freezer guarantees hearty winter soups in half the time.
    Next week I will share a vegetable soup recipe

    • Skins and ends from 4-6 onions
    • Stalks from a bunch of parsley
    • Dill stalks and seed heads
    • Optional: Dried or fresh celery leaves
    • Optional: Carrot, parsnip, or beet ends
    • Optional: 4-6 leaves of beets, or chard
    • 1 tablespoonful sea salt
    • 3-4 quarts cold water

    Save the ends from your vegetable preparation for a week, excluding cabbage-family plants, and you will be ready to make this tasty broth, with perhaps only the purchase of a bunch of parsley.

    Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Tightly cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 2-3 hours.

    Cool. Refrigerate or freeze. Should make at least 2 quarts of broth.

    (Picture of frozen stock - red onion skin, dill and beet green broth)

    Mentor Students - Click Here for Core Material Work


    Interested in becoming a mentor student? Learn more here.

  • Tuesday, November 05, 2013 12:27 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk

    Here are photos and more info on some of our delicious finds at the CSA pick-your-own garden: two old friends and a new one. Enjoy!

    Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
    This herb gives us two different tastes. When it is green and leafy, it is called cilantro, and is clearly related to parsley. But after its lovely little pink flowers fade, small seed balls form. Those balls are the herb coriander, an important antioxidant and an indispensable ingredient in some cuisines. As we harvested, we made sure to spill plenty of seeds on the ground – in the hopes that they would grow back next year.

    Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus)
    This is another two-for-one plant: The leaves provided plenty of tasty cooked greens throughout the summer, and, now that the leaves are gone, there are seeds to harvest. Like most wild plants, pigweed amaranth ripens and scatters its seed over many weeks, so any harvest will yield more inedible chaff than edible seed. I harvest the seed heads into a paper or plastic bag, then put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at the lowest possible setting for 5-10 minutes to destroy mold spores. Then I rub the seeds out of the heads, separate the chaff, and store the tiny black seeds.

    Lamb’s quarter (Chenopodium album)
    And yet another plant to offer different nourishment from different parts. Like amaranth, lamb’s quarter gives us delicious leaves; unlike amaranth hers may be eaten in salads as well as cooked, and her stalks are usually too stiff to eat. This hardy annual may be found in leaf even now, as well as in flower and in seed.

    Lamb’s quarter, (Chenopodium album or ??)
    I have noticed several species of lambs’s quarter in my garden, but never one as pretty as this almost entirely purple one. Many plants turn purple when subjected to frosts, but this one doesn’t seem to have been frozen and was mixed in with green ones.

    Lamb’s quarter, (Chenopodium album or ??)
    And then there is this red-stemed variety of lamb’s quarter, to round out the offerings. I always prefer to pick lamb’s quarter at an organic farm (or garden) as it is a plant that concentrates nitrates/nitrites (abundant in synthetic fertilizers) out of the soil. Too much nitrate is not good for our health.

    ~ Recipe - Vegetable Stock ~

  • Tuesday, November 05, 2013 12:19 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green greetings of joy to you all!

    Would you like to accompany the apprentices and me on a field trip? We are going to a local organic farm to see what there is to harvest now that first frosts have come. It’s sunny but chilly, so dress warmly.

    The farm is a CSA farm. Community Supported Agriculture. Rather like the initials after EagleSong’s name: CCH, which stand for Community Created/Certified Herbalist. If you aren’t already a member of a CSA, I urge you to join. Of course, in most part of North America, the gardening season is done, so it is perhaps difficult to think ahead to what you will be eating next summer. But now is the time to join a CSA. I am sure there is one in your area.

    First we have to drive south, to get to the bridge over the mighty Hudson River. What a stunning view! Rays of sunlight finger straight through banks of clouds into the river beneath us and the mountains at our backs. We leave behind the rocks of the Catskills and head to the “rich” side of the river, where there is fertile soil.

    Now back north along the river, through farmland. Acres and acres of pick your own apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, pumpkins, and more, in season, not now. Sweet corn all gone, all eaten and enjoyed; all that is left are the brown stalks rustling in the fields. The eye goes on and on across the land with little impediment. So different from my cliff-and-hollow existence at home.

    Here we are. If the ferry were still running, we could have gotten here more directly, if a little slower. This way. We are going to the pick-your-own plantings at the CSA farm. I really enjoy this part of being a member; they have so many more weeds than I do, and they are happy to have me take them.

    What will we find? Where crops were harvested and the land unseeded, there are great swaths of barbara’s cress. Between the rows, lots of lamb’s quarter, amaranth seed heads, shepherd’s purse in flower, the large leaves of first-year mullein, and straggly first-year burdock. And in the herb garden, rows of frosted-on-the-tips dill and cilantro/coriander, plus thriving beds of parsley, sage, thyme, and chives, but only blackened stalks where the basils once grew.

    I’ll continue next week with our great finds in the rest of the cut-your-own garden at our CSA and turn my attention to the live-out apprentices, who will graduate this weekend, and my granddaughter, who will turn six in a few weeks, and the goats, who need to be bred so we will have milk and cheese and yogurt next year, and to make some stock for vegetable soup.

    Keep on looking for green blessings all around you, they are everywhere!

    ~ Weed Walk ~

  • Tuesday, October 29, 2013 5:18 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk

    Grapes grow wild all over where I live. They grow in the deep woods, with monster vines flying hundreds of feet up into the trees. They grow in the garden, if you let them, and sprout from every cut with vigor, twining and climbing. They grow where the lawn meets the trees, looping and tangling, tripping the deer, offering refuge for birds.

    According to Eating on the Wild Side, eating the fox grapes – or some varieties of cultivated grapes – that festoon the woods, gardens, and edges of my world are one of the best ways to lengthen life and help prevent a host of chronic diseases. Drinking grape juice, eating grapes, or eating raisins has been shown to markedly increase the activity of the brain, increase the flexibility of the arteries, lower blood pressure, thin the blood, reduce the risk of blood clots, slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and protect breast cells from the effects of chemicals, says author Jo Robinson.

    Wild grapes not only irritate my lips when I eat them raw, they are so incredibly tart that it is hard to eat more than one or two. So this year I experimented with “cooking” my fox grapes, to see if I could make better use of the bounty surrounding me. Of the five ways of cooking – heating, freezing, fermenting, dehydrating, and covering with oil – the fourth, dehydration beckoned. Grapes into raisins is an easy way for those of us who don’t drink wine to reap the benefits of more grapes than can be eaten. I harvested the grapes late in the afternoon, when they were sun-warmed, laid them on my cookie cooling racks set into a lipped cookie sheet and put them in my gas oven which has a pilot and so stays at 110-112 degrees F.

    In three days, I had lovely, chewy, delicious raisins that did not sting my lips. Happy Susun :)

    Wild fruits often taste better after the first light frosts, so don’t hesitate to try this now.

    Green – and purple – blessings are everywhere.

    Mentor Students - Click Here for Core Material Work


    Interested in becoming a mentor student? Learn more here.

  • Tuesday, October 29, 2013 5:07 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    31 October 2013

    The wheel of the year is turning, turning.
    Gateway between the worlds stirs.
    The veil grows thin.
    Celebrate the change. Halloween, Samhain (Saw-ween), Day of the Dead.
    The wheel of the year is turning; it is turning into darkness.
    Spirits of the Ancestors, hear us.
    Spirits of the Ancients, we will feed you.
    Blood in our veins, yours.
    The wheel of the year is turning, turning, turning into winter.
    The veil grows thinner.
    Gateway between the worlds stretches.
    Frost comes killer quick leaves black.
    Spirits of the Old Ones, we feel you stirring.
    Cut the nettle right to the ground.
    The veil disappears.
    The gateway dissolves.
    The wheel turns.
    Listen for ice.
    Cut cronewort for dream pillows.
    They are here. Put out the feast.
    Vampires fear garlic.
    Witches melt when wet.
    Watch for shooting stars.

    We had a fantastic, fun, productive Halloween work weekend at the Wise Woman Center: We pressed apple cider, made apple sauce, cleared part of the goat barn, started a compost pile, cut herbs in the gardens and made anti-oxidant-rich herbal vinegars, covered some garden beds with finished compost, raked some leaves, took down some dried herbs and bagged them, picked wild salads, and frolicked with the goats. Since we didn’t finish any of it, there is still plenty to do on our next work weekend, November 9-10. This work weekend will include a special field trip to a local production of Dracula on Saturday night. Come work and play with us and the goats. The Ancestors insist!

    Chicory continues to brighten the mornings and evenings with her brilliant blue flowers. The light frost seem to have deepened the color of the blooms until they verge on indigo or ultra violet. An invitation to those who wish to work more clearly with their third eye energy.

    We continue to find red clover, wild carrot, and dandelion flowers to gladden our salads and our hearts. Remember! Green blessings are everywhere.


    p.s. Check out the grapes on the next page. Grapes are one of the world’s original health foods.

    And, mentored students, there is a special garlic supplement for you.
    Happy Halloween everyone!!

    Weed Walk ~ Click Here

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:11 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Earth-Friendly Organic Halloween Makeup
     by Dayna Colvin

    Next to Christmas and Thanksgiving, Halloween is one of the most celebrated honored holidays of the year. It never ceases to amaze me how many people get into the spirit of the holiday and enjoy the festivities. 2,000 years ago, Halloween was a very sacred holiday celebrated by the Celtic people in the ancient British Isles. It was a holiday celebrated by Druids, Witches and Wiccan Covens, Fairies, Elves, and various other Celtic Tribes. On All Hallows' Eve, as it was called back then, the Druids would go from door to door holding an empty basket asking for fruit and whatever treats the residents would give them. Later in the evening, everyone would gather together in a festival, dancing, singing, playing, and enjoying the foods they were given.

    Many centuries later, Halloween is still a celebrated holiday, but today things have drastically changed. People still enjoy wearing costumes, pretending to be their alter ego. They also enjoy going door to door saying, "trick or treat" and asking for sweet treats, but the tradition has vastly changed. Halloween is probably one of the most expensive holidays. As soon as the summer begins to fade, stores begin stocking up for Halloween and the Christmas Holiday Season. Throughout the store, you’ll see the regular merchandise combined with racks upon racks of new Halloween paraphernalia.

    One of the biggest traditions of Halloween is the wild and elaborate costumes people design. Many people go with the traditional Angels, Ghosts, Devils, and Superheroes, while others opt for outlandish costumes, portraying celebrities in Hollywood. The costumes are usually cute, colorful, and beautiful and the makeup is a process all to its own. Dressing up and playing make believe, pretending to be someone or something else for a day is fun and exciting. It is a beautiful way to express the inner child. The problem is that the makeup and hair goo that is used to complement the costumes is usually toxic, smelly, and very harmful to the health. It’s fun to dress up and wear wild and zany colorful makeup and create funny wild hairdos that get attention. But when these products contain toxic petrochemicals, the fun disappears.

    I remember attending Halloween parties with friends and I always had a great time dressing up and checking out everyone’s getup. We always had such a great time trying to guess what someone was supposed to be and admiring the elaborate costume designs. Unfortunately, there was also a down side. Each person had bright or dark colorful thick makeup on and colorful hairspray with funky silver and gold streams sticking out of their hair. As soon as I would get close to someone, I would have trouble breathing, would start coughing, and I’d make a mad dash for the bathroom. At first, I thought I was crazy and I couldn’t understand what was wrong until years later.

    When my husband and I began learning about holistic natural living, we began to question and analyze all the holidays. We were invited to a couple parties, but we started turning down invitations. I was no longer interested in wearing funky or sexy costumes with wacky colorful makeup because I couldn’t find anything fun that was non-toxic. All those crazy facial makeup applicators and the silver and gold aerosol junk you put in the hair are permeated with toxic petrochemicals. That shiny silver and gold stuff that you use to draw lines and decorations around your eyes and on your cheeks is filled with petroleum, potentially toxic food dyes, and horrible fragrance.

    Those petrochemicals contain coal tar, the same smelly toxic chemicals that are used to pave roads and repair leaky roofs. Essentially, you’re putting gasoline on your face and in your hair! If you find this gross and appalling, then you’re paying attention. It’s cheap and massively distributed to all cheap dollar stores and can make people very ill. The fumes from the adulterated scented products pollute the air, groundwater, and wildlife.

    An ugly horror is the fact that when toxic petrochemicals - pesticides, lawn treatment chemicals, perfumes, commercial fertilizers, and various other toxic petrochemicals - are sprayed into lawn grasses, trees, foliage, and flowers, the Fairies are usually present, hovering around the plant-life, caring for and being Stewards for these plants. The harsh petrochemicals are sprayed right into the Fairies' faces, suffocating them, choking them, and making them severely ill! It is an absolute horror and it cannot continue!

    The Fairies are delicate, fragile, vital integral parts of the Mystical, Spiritual, Unseen world and they rely on us to protect and respect them and their world. The Fairies carefully watch over and act as protective stewards to the Plant and Animal Kingdom and they need to be in good health to continue their vital work. This won't happen if their air is being made toxic with harmful toxic pollutants. The packaging winds up in a toxic landfill, where the toxic plastic will never biodegrade.

    If you want to have fun and get dressed up in some wild funky colorful costumes and makeup, opt for something that is safe enough to eat. Aubrey Organics and Aveda make some beautiful makeup, including some playful, funky, wild colors. There’s no reason that you can’t have fun in a non-toxic earth-friendly manner. Pure organic plant essences are safer for the environment and the recycled packaging they come in can either be reused or recycled. The cheap inexpensive little makeup applicators you find in the bargain stores are better off ignored.

    A really good way to enjoy Halloween and the Holiday Season is to make your own non-toxic earth-friendly makeup and check out some books with some good non-toxic tips. This Halloween, make a strong statement that tells the world that you genuinely care about Mother Earth and all Her Beautiful Creatures. Show the world that you know what it means to be a Pagan and that you are no longer willing to patronize those companies that only care about profit margin, even if it means polluting the environment.

    A true Pagan honors all the Natural Elements, the Moon, the Sun, the Stars, and knows the true meaning of respecting Mother Earth. Getting dressed up in your favorite colorful costume with festive makeup isn’t about playing games and acting foolish. Halloween is a special day about honoring our Spiritual Ancestors and Honoring the Spiritual Unseen World. The best thing we can do to protect and respect the Fairies, Spirit, and Unseen World and correct this horrible problem is to become avid strict label readers and vote with our wallets.

    Say “No” to greedy multi-nationals! Say “Yes” to organic, green, earth-friendly conscious companies that care about Mother Earth, the humans, and the animals. Eat, live, shop, and be Green! Shopping at your local health food store and purchasing only those products and items that are 100% green, organic, and earth-friendly, non-toxic is the best thing people can do to contribute to a cleaner greener Earth and reduce our footprint upon Mother Earth.

    Dayna Colvin resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. They are happy new parents of an adorable beautiful wonderful 19 month old sweet baby boy and 2 adult cats, their furry babies.  Their plant-based vegetarian, natural living diet and holistic, environmentally conscious lifestyle keeps them vibrant and youthful.  Dayna is an advocate of environmental awareness and as a voice for compassion for animals. She has worked with Greenpeace and other similar organizations in raising awareness to the importance of wholeness, as well as environmental understanding.

    Upon seeing the dramatic positive results from her choices, Dayna decided to share her knowledge, wisdom, and experience with the world. This resulted in a series of articles and prose, as well as three non-fiction alternative health books and two unique visionary environmental adventure novels. Her book, "Keep Your Vanity Without Losing Your Sanity," teaches people how to can enjoy clean, organic, non-toxic, earth-friendly beauty, using only 100% pure organic plant essences, completely FREE of harmful petrochemicals.

    In her book, she shows people how to distinguish and discern the truth from the lies that the multi-nationals are so good at shoveling with their obscene million-dollar advertising.  She teaches people the basic fundamentals of reading a product label and she introduces them to the natural world. To read more about Dayna and her writing, please visit the following web site: www.notperfume.com

    Mentor Students - Click Here for Core Material Work


    Interested in becoming a mentor student? Learn more here.

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Halloween Salad

    serves 4

    • 16 dandelion leaves
    • 8 mallow leaves
    • big handful of wild oregano tops
    • as much wild mint as you like
    • 40 sheep sorrel leaves
    • 12 lemon balm tops
    • 16 garlic mustard leaves
    • lots of chickweed
    • 8 violet leaves
    and finished with
    • red clover blossoms
    • dandelion and chicory flower petals
    • wild carrot flowers
    • mallow flowers
    • the last of the nasturtiums\

    ~ Article - Earth-Friendly Organic Halloween Makeup ~

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Weed Walk Two

    Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis)
    Whether you eat the leaves in salad, cook the leaves as a bitter green (so good for digestion), make a vinegar of the roots, or turn the roots into a horseradish-y condiment, you will soon find yourself smiling whenever you see this “invasive weed” carpeting the waysides of roads and paths. What a great way to strengthen immunity and go into winter feeling strong.

    (Stellaria media)

    Now the ground is greening all around the compost piles with the little star lady, chickweed. Her big sister, the giant chickweed is re-greening after providing salad material all summer and both of them are delicious in salads. It is not too late to make great vaginal lubricating chickweed oil or cyst-dissolving chickweed tincture.


    I don’t pick many violet leaves during the spring or summer; I wait until fall and harvest them in great quantity. (But never more than half the leaves from any one plant.) I know that violet leaves are a fantastic source of vitamin A and I figure they ought to be richest in this antioxidant vitamin just before they are going dormant. They taste really nice in the fall, too.

    Red clover blossoms
    (Trifolium pratense)

    Isn’t it nice to see the red clover blooming? The sight of these flowers always opens my heart to the joy of life. Whether I stop for a moment on the way to the barn to milk or whether I am harvesting them to decorate my salad, I imbibe bliss. It is too late to pick red clover to dry for infusion as the blood thinning qualities are at their peak in the autumn blooms.

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:53 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Weed walk one

    Dandelion  (Taraxacum officinale            
    I know all the books say to eat dandelion leaves in the spring, but I think they taste much, much better in the fall. Everyone at class agreed, too, so on Sunday they harvested lots and lots of tender, sweet dandelion leaves and flowers for the salad. Then they went out and dug dandelion roots and made root tincture and root/leaf/flower vinegar. Nice!

    Mallow (Malva neglecta
    The mallows are happy that the nights are cold. They thrive in the fall and spring. Especially this creeping, weedy one that like to hang out where the goats do. For some reason the goats don’t eat it, but we do. The leaves, flowers and any seeds go right in the salad. The root could be dug up and dried for use in infusions or tinctured. This little mallow is the sister of marsh mallow, a very soothing medicine.

    Wild oregano  
    Lucky for us, this wild mint doesn’t taste strongly of oregano; the flavor is mild with just a hint of aroma. And now that it is past flowering, lots of the tender tops are going in the salad. I used to make wild oregano vinegar, with some cloves of garlic to amp the flavor. But I have so many other favorite vinegars, including garlic scape vinegar, that I haven’t used wild oregano  for anything but salad in years.

    Sheep sorrel
    (Rumex acetosella

    An amazing patch of this super sour plant sprang up right behind the barn, so our autumn salads have been rife with it. The leaf stalks can be a bit stiff, so we leave them behind when we harvest. The leaves are crisp and loaded with vitamin C, a great way to nourish the immune system to get ready for winter.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software