Update on Cleavers And Carrot Ferment

Tasted great after 6 days, tangy and delicious in a turmeric  and prawn root soup with soya yoghurt…

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Only surprise was the sadly deceased ladybird I found once I was halfway through the jar.

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And the hair!!  Sorry!

Apparently fermented guillemot birds were buried under mud and considered a wedding feast delicacy in Iceland however, so I’m sure one ladybird won’t kill me.

Update on Cleavers And Carrot Ferment

Spring Tonics in the Ouzel Valley

Today I harvested handfuls of fresh juicy Cleavers, bursting with vitamins welcome after winter’s salted runner beans.

 

I decided on making Cleavers & Carrot Lacto-Ferment, the cleavers worked well last year with a phenomenal taste…I will return with the results.

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus Sylvestris) and Hemlock (Conium maculatum) are also out side by side, confuse them not lest you desire a free ride in an ambulance.

Tasty potato salad addition, left.

Death, right.

A bit scary.

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Cow parsley has a faint pink blush on stem, stem finely downy hairs, leaves 2 to 3 times innate (divided).

Hemlock has PINK/PURPLE SPOTS at base of stem, smooth hairless stem, leaves 4-5 times divided, generally bigger and looks finely lacy.  This is hemlock.

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If you’re not 100% on it, avoid.

 

Also found Winter Cress and Shepherd’s Purse where the River path comes up to Aldi. (Now that what I call a budget shopping experience!) Peppery members of the cabbage family. Though probably peed on by many dogs.

Shepherds Purse has one of the highest nutritional contents of any wild food in the UK.

See you soon with more as I find it!

Xx

Hedgewitch Kat

Spring Tonics in the Ouzel Valley

In blackest night….

Winter’s bite….

In blackest night

grows the seed of Life

Blue frost in our pleading veins

we sink deep…

Beneath snows, and wish for light to come again;

but needful is this rest, this still;

like death to life is needful

the black earth womb to the seed of light.

Winter’s bite;

Reality, sometimes grim

Is soul medicine in bitter pill

And needful still.

For the growth of the seed so strong in life

From blackest despairing night.

 

 

In blackest night….

Winter Nature Collage

Stuck for nature-based things to do in miserable grey January?  Get out on a dry day with some secateurs and a bag and harvest some dried stems, fallen bark, seedheads…then back at base have a play glueing them to a piece of hardboard or canvas to create textural worlds of winter sensuality….try contrasting opposites such as hard bark or stems with soft feathery seedheads…

Here I used strong pliers to clip off the pine scales as near the base as possible, and shake out the seeds which can be eaten! or used as another part of the collage, with their beautiful pearlescent wings.  I started using evil smelling chemical glue, then felt bad about the environment so switched to PVA which works just as well!  this is just hardboard from a DIY store which I prepared with acrylic paint.

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Try cutting stems to produce delicate, structural cross sections such as this Reedmace stem, with its natural foam for buoyancy, or stem pieces built up into a honeycomb of different lengths and textures.  I haven’t finished a lot of these so will put  more pics up when they are done!

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Last but  not least, weave in some basketry techniques to create some geometrical effects.  The world is your oyster!  I’m going to try using dried bracket fungus next.  And yes, do make sure everything is bone dry before using or you may get a moving, evolving picture of mycology and mildew…which is fascinating but messy and smelly.

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i used miscanthus heads in this for the fluff!

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Winter Nature Collage

Pine Needle Basket – pics!

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A finished (nearly!) pine needle basket made using short (4-5in) pine needles from several different species of trees..fiddly but fun, and very satisfying, and all you have had to pay for is a washer and some string!  I have dyed some of the needles with turmeric (the yellow ones) and used reddish needles and ivory cream needles to produce bands of colour.

Stay tuned for my Pine Needle Basketry workshop coming soon in Milton Keynes!  I will also be selling Pine Needle Basketry kits on my etsy.com page (‘Hedgewitch Adventures’ on Etsy).

Pine Needle Basket – pics!

The Briar Basket: Creating A Friend out of an Enemy.

Look about you at nature, in the gorgeous hues of fire of Autumn’s transition.  So we’ve picked the rosehips and the sweet chestnuts and made soup and nourishing biscuits against the impending chill.  What now?

This is the season craftspeople and hunter gatherers of old would have been out busily harvesting not just food but fibre..yet another arrow nocked to the forager’s bow and one that is all too often overlooked.  We are talking of Basketry, Papermaking and Cloth Making. 

Take a good look at the hedgerow, the browning waysides.  what do you see?  Already the senses of a keen food forager will pick out sustenance, but expand our horizons as we realise that to carry and store these fruits, nuts and seeds, containers are needed.   Let me introduce you to some fibre friends of the hedgerow. Admire the coiling spring of the vicious bramble.  With a stout heart, knife and gloves these can be trained into a rustic and equally stout basket.  There’s something really cool about making a friend of such a formidable foe.

The tall stately green-gilt-tan of autumn Reedmace (Typha latifolia) that my readers are familar with as a food plant can also be encouraged to tesselate in an attractive checker pattern into lightweight containers…once properly dried.  In Irish reed-craft large lofts and attics were saved for this purpose and even now there is a flourishing trade in traditional, intricate baskets of bulrush (Sciripus campestris).

Now also is the time to embrace that old stalwart, the common Nettle, in a completely different way that is a far cry from pesto or falafel balls.  First, find some old, tall, stick-like nettles growing in a pack.  Now..get in there, right at the base, with some secateurs (and gloves again, tough old nettles at the time of year REALLY do bite).  You will probably still get stung a bit, but you will be having so much fun you won’t notice 🙂  I have been cutting bunches  several inches thick, stripping the leaves off (yes, keep your gloves on and use a piece of leather to strip..I used a wire brush!!).  Then it is time to soak them for a week, in a tank or in my case in the lovely muddy canal next to my boat, tied precariously by bits of string.  I am now drying them over the heat of the engine in the engine room, will they produce a gossamer – fine jumper or shawl?  TBC!

Last but not least, Pine trees are shedding their leaves, carpeting the cold ground in a gentle springiness with their creamy gold needles.  I have been scooping up handfuls gleefully into my bemused toddler’s buggy if I have no bags to hand, from various locations where I also get the same bemused look from passing motorists, supermarket staff or dog walkers.  Once you have these beauties home, you will see, and feel, the difference between the different types, and then with the addition of some tying material and a significant amount of fiddling (my clumsy fingers are better suited to wrestling with brambles), baskets intricate as a spider’s web can be fashioned.

So, there’s some to get you started, now go out and harvest your own. As usual, though the parts you need are either ‘dead’ or dying down for the winter, this foliage is still useful in Nature as insulation for the ground, as homes for animals and breaks down into mulch and nutrients for the soil for next season, so don’t take so much from any one spot that a passer by would notice.

Choose stems and leaves that have a bit of flex in them yet are mature and quite dry, but not too brittle..  This is a difficult thing to describe and is best shown…stay tuned for my Basketry and Fibre courses.  Too immature and they will be too weak and moist, too old and they will be too brittle and snap.  The perfect basketry material is pliable, strong and a good colour with no spots of mould or weak parts.  you will get the hang of it as you go along!  In most cases you will need to prepare the materials by storing them in a dark, dry place until they shrink with drying (you don’t want this to happen AFTER it’s made into a basket or it ends up becoming  a sieve!).

So once you’ve done that, come back and we’ll go into some of these in more detail and learn how to make some basic baskets and fibres.

See you soon in the hedgerow!

xx Hedgewitch Kat xx

 

 

 

The Briar Basket: Creating A Friend out of an Enemy.