Shopping for Free


Monarda fistula didyma in my basket!

This Foragers Heart  (wild meditations)

Psalms 145:5  “Of the glorious splendor of Your majesty and of Your wondrous works I will meditate.”

I sit here surrounded by the glorious splendor of His majesty.  Sounds of morning life stirring, birds flitting about chirping their unique songs.  Staring across the valley to the hills beyond the panorama is one of peaceful beauty.  A stand of flowering Bull Thistles lines the barbed wire fence waving gently with the breeze.  Goldfinch dart about sporting their striking plumage.  Clouds sit rather heavy on the ridge line keeping the air delightfully cool.  The Bee Balm I picked at the stream assaults my senses with it’s pungent perfume tempting me to make a fresh pot of Bee Balm tea once I’m home.  The most remarkable thing I saw was a large bird gathering size at it flew towards me from my left.  It was a Blue Heron!!!! and it flew right past me only 30 feet away.  I watched till it floated out of sight.  Amazing!  They are not common in these mountains.

Your works are wonderful Lord.  In wisdom You have made them all. Thank YOU for Your gracious hand and heart.  Teach me more about You.

My Foragers Basket

Today I went to Peaceful Acres with the collies to see what the Milkweed patch was up to and give them a run around the pasture’s perimeter.  It is a beautiful thing to watch collies run in green fields.  They worked out their pent up energy running beside the golf cart.  Half of the field has been mowed and the other half the various grasses are chest high, so beautiful and full of free food!   As we crossed the stream the Bee Balm was in shocking perfusion so we paused there to be refreshed in the cold mountain stream and to gather the brilliant red blossoms.  At the Milkweed patch there were fewer flower buds (the broccoli stage) available but several of the flowers were morphing into tiny seed pods.  A growth phase I have been anticipating as this is the “potato stage” and quite delicious.  Mullein stalks towered above me at various outposts, so tall that I had to bend them gently to harvest their yellow flowers.  Catnip is everywhere adding a rather skunkish smell to the overpowering sweetness of the Milkweed.  Self Heal blankets large patches of the earth…

Each plant that I harvested this morning: Clover, Milkweed, Mullein flowers, Bee Balm, Catnip, Thistle, Plantain, Dandelion, Self Heal, all have multiple gifts to experience. Some I intend to dry for teas or for winter food, some I will infuse in oil for healing slaves, vinegars, extracts, or simply to be gratefully eaten fresh for dinner.

Putting up my ‘Groceries’

One of the key aspects to successful foraging is to put up the plants as soon as possible.  I make it a habit to ‘garble’ my catch immediately.  Garbling means debugging, removing dead leaves, sorting by plant and washing (if its dirty roots, otherwise I rarely wash my wild plants since I get them from such clean environments).

Here is what my counter looks like when all of the garbling is completed.

Milkweed, Bee Balm, Rose Petals, Mullein Flowers, Catnip, Self Heal, Clover….

Making Wild preparations is the next step.  All of the Bee Balm is drying in small bundles from nails hanging in my hallway.  The Rose Petals were added to a honey and brandy mixture that I’ve been brewing for a few weeks, the Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) is chopped fine and put in olive oil, Red Clover is in a drying basket in single layers so they don’t get moldy but dry perfectly, the Milkweed I chopped up in my food processor to extract it’s constituents in Scotch Whiskey for medicine, the Mullein Flowers are steeping in olive oil for earache drops, the Blackberries were added to my quart of Blueberry and Blackberries steeping in brandy and the Milkweed  flower buds were steamed and added to my eggrolls for dinner.  The Cattails to the far right were from the other day at the Cattail ‘store’.  I’ll be writing about that memorable shopping spree in my next blog. ;(

Honeyed, Brandied, Oiled, and Dried

Bee Balm hanging to dry

If I were to add up the financial savings of my shopping this morning it would be an interesting calculation.  Just from today’s foraging basket I have:

Blackberry and blueberry brandy

Rose Hip and Rose Petal honeyed brandy

Mullein flower earache medicine

Milkweed medicine for wart treatment (4 ounces of Milkweed extract sells for $27!)

Self Heal for the base of lots of healing salves and lip balms

Daisys and Black Eyed Susans for floral arrangements

Milkweed for dinner &

countless cups of Bee Balm tea to bring the Summer’s goodness and vibrancy into a Winter tea….

So it was another lovely day shopping for free in God’s creation!

Wild blessings do abound and I feel blessed!







  1. A wonderful post; loved the photos!

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