This Sunday from 14:00-17:00 in Berlin-Rummelsburg, I will be hosting (in English) a Wild Plant Walk! Come and learn about the practice of exploring seasonal wild plants for culinary, medicinal & practical uses!
Class is limited to 12. Please reserve your place: 
Email:  HiddenInNature@gmail.com
Phone:  0049  01796149473
  ~  See you all on the wild side!  ~

This Sunday from 14:00-17:00 in Berlin-Rummelsburg, I will be hosting (in English) a Wild Plant Walk! Come and learn about the practice of exploring seasonal wild plants for culinary, medicinal & practical uses!

Class is limited to 12. Please reserve your place: 

  1. Email:  HiddenInNature@gmail.com
  2. Phone:  0049  01796149473

  ~  See you all on the wild side!  ~

DIY Dandelion Wine

Dandelion (“Löwenzahn” in Deutsch) is one of the easiest wild plants to recognize worldwide, Making it an ideal wild edible plant to use in many different ways including: Wine Making!

Spring & Summer Dandelion flowers are best for wine making, because they are subtly sweet & tart, which are perfectly balanced flavor notes for wine making. The later in the season you harvest the flowers, the more bitter and astringent they will taste, making your wine sour & bitter tasting as well.

  • My Dandelion Wine Recipe:
  • *  What you will need:
  • *  5 Gallons of spring water
  • *  3 pounds of Dandelion flowers (REMOVE ALL GREENS)
  • *  5 pounds of Organic sugar
  • *  2 packets of wine yeast
  • *  Oxygen Powder sanitizer
  • *  8-10 750 ml. wine bottles
  • *  8-10 750 ml. compatible fermentation locks

Step 1.) Start filling the sink with hot water, then add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sanitizer, and finally, add all your bottles and fermentation locks, to soak in the sanitizer while you brew!

Step 2.) Over a campfire, boil 5 gallons of spring water in stainless steel pot, and bring to a boil. (you can do this indoors too, we just enjoy the outdoor experience, as well as the smoky flavor the campfire adds.)

Step 3.) Add 3 pounds of dandelion flowers to boiling water. 

Step 4.) Add 5 pounds of organic sugar, stir, and boil all ingredients together for about an hour. (Watch the colors change as you are the creator of this brews world!!)

Step 5.) After an hour brewing the flowers and sugar, reduce the heat, and allow the tonic cool down to about 75-80 degrees.

Step 6.)  When the brews temperature has cooled down to the desired temperature range (75-80 degrees) pitch 2 wine yeast packets, and stir for 5 minutes, signaling another person to arrange the bottles and funnels. Wash or sterilize your hands at this time too.

Step 7.) Pour the brew from the pot into each sterilized 750 ml. wine bottles. This recipe should fill 8-10 bottles 3/4 full.

Step 8.)  Pop on a sterilized fermentation lock on each bottle top and let that baby ferment into a lovely, delicious, inside warming, home made wine!!

Aftercare Instructions:

Allow the wine to ferment in a warm, low light corner of your home for about 6 weeks, then after the 6 weeks, cork each individual bottle, and age the wine in a cellar for later….I recommend aging your wine for 6 months or more to allow for better taste! Dandelion wine is surprisingly sweet & delicious and has become one of my favorite beginner wines to make with friends!

DIY Willow Tea for Pain Relief

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Active Ingredient: Salicin
Beneficial Properties: Pain Relieving, Inflammation Reducing
Herbal Applications: Tea, Bath, Extract, Salve, Hair Rinse
Energy: Feminine
Season: Spring
Planet: Moon
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To say the least, Willow is an enchanting, magical and healing tree. Found mostly growing along streams, rivers and wetlands. It is water-loving tree, and water is the element ruling the feminine & mothering energies. It has long been associated with the feminine energies of birth, dreams, creativity, intuition, and the cycles of moon. I like to sit under willow when I need a boost of feminine power!
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In Celtic mythology, The Willow is associated with Brigid, the goddess of fire, poetry, unity, healing, and childbirth. Willows spirit can help us invoke her energies and align with them. Carrying a piece of willow can awaken you to the link between your thoughts and external manifestations in your life. Now on to the medicinal properties….

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In survival situations, a growing Willow tree may be an indicator of a fresh water spring, and Dowsing with a willow forked branch was an ancient art for finding drinkable springs. Those were the days you might say, But willow is still widely appraised for practical, medicinal & spiritual uses.
Willow bark has been used for its pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. The Salix alba (white willow) contains salicin, the active ingredient in aspirin. Willow bark is a common pain reliever used for reducing fever, relieving joint, muscle pain, and even headaches.
DIY Willow Pain Relief Tea:
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  • Remove the leaves and wrap the flexible stems into a bundle (as shown above)….

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  • Add boiled water and a squeeze of lemon (the vitamin C helps to draw out the medicinal properties in the willows bark)….

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  • Finally, cover and allow to seep for 15 minutes….Then, RELAX & ENJOY! Repeat 2x per day for a week to allow the body to absorb the pain relieving effects.

Please Note:  This is my passion and although I have years of experience using these plants, I must advise that I am not a doctor and you should always consult a healthcare professional with questions regarding any herbal remedies before trying them.   <3

Worm Composting/Vermiculture

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Adding Worms to your compost is called “Vermiculture” and it can make the composting process 3x faster! Say what?? From compost to soil in so little time? Count me in!

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How is it done? 

Buy the worms at a near by garden supply store, then add a few handfuls of European Nightcrawlers or Red Wiggler worms to your compost pile and watch as the worms do all the work for you!

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You can even make your own stackable worm composter with re-purposed wine boxes!

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The worms will eat your veggie scraps while pooping constantly! Their poop creates a nutrient-dense soil that can then be used for all of your plant starters because it acts as a natural fertilizer and will accelerate the plants growth.

image(LEFT) Regular compost soil        (RIGHT) Worm compost soil

I included an example (above) of growing your veggies with regular organic composting soil versus worm composting soil in a 8 week period…The regular compost soil grew the plants smaller while the worm compost soil grew the plants bigger and healthier….Time to start a worm compost everybody!  :-)

Homegrown Cut & Grow-Again Pea Shoots From Dried Peas:

Any beginner green thumb wants a fast and affordable way to taste delicious and homegrown food, but what is often lacking is the skill or the space to do so. Growing pea sprouts is my favorite introduction to indoor gardening and it can be done in your own kitchen window from seed to harvest in just two weeks time! Learn how to grow sprouts in the easiest way possible, using: dried peas, potting soil, a recycled yogurt container, some water, love and of course, your happy kitchen window! At the same time you learn the art of DIY, growing your own food, saving money, and recycling in an entirely new way! Here’s what you will need & how I did it:

  1. Buy a package of dried peas from a bio supermarket
  2. Soak 2 cups of dried peas in water over night
  3. The next morning, strain the water from the peas
  4. Prepare a garden container with organic potting soil (I use my old yogurt containers and make drainage holes in the bottom)
  5. Add the soaked peas to top of the soil in the container
  6. Top with 1 inch of soil, just enough to cover the peas
  7. Put in a window & water every other day & watch the magic happen!

In about 2 weeks, when the sprouts are a few inches tall, cut the sprouts from the base of the stem & right away you can add them to your salads, put them in your sandwiches, or add them to your smoothies! After you cut the first sprouts, keep watering as normal and watch as the peas regrow for a few more rounds of sprouts for your future salads! Give it a try, and don’t be surprised if something inside you sprouts too!  :-)

St. Johns Wort Solar Infused Olive Oil

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St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a wild flowering, medicinal plant species that is native to Europe, but grows in mountainous regions around the world. St. johns wort is known for its benefits with lifting depression, relieving exhaustion, and for treating symptoms of HIV and cancer.  It does however, increase photo sensitivity, so it’s not recommended to use it during sunny days.

However, during the cold & cloudy months in winter, when sunlight is lowest, St Johns Wort oil can be applied topically to areas of discomfort and is often found to be extremely alleviating for bruises, inflammation, nerve, joint and muscle pains. I also add the oil to my homemade winter salve and lip balms for soothing achy pains & super-chapped lips .

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St. Johns Wort Solar Infused Olive Oil Recipe:

With the help of an experienced forager, gather the flowering tops during the months of June & July. The flowers are best identified by their unique 5 point-star-like-yellow-flowers, and the dark red dye that they leave on your fingers when you harvest them fresh from the plant.

  1. Add the fresh flowers to a clean & labeled jar
  2. top the flowers with cold pressed olive oil
  3. put in a sunny window to allow for solar infusion
  4. Leave in window for 4 weeks and then apply oil externally onto sore areas of the body.

Finally, relax and allow the healing to happen! 

My Favorite Late Winter/Early Spring Salad Varieties

Sowing Instructions:

For growing late winter lettuce, you can sow your seeds in a sunny window indoors between late-January through late-March, and since its an above ground crop, I prefer to use the biodynamic calendar and sow the seeds during an ascending leaf moon, in a water or earth sign. 

Seedling Aftercare Instructions:

  • Keep the soil moist but ensure that your seedlings do not get too cold by being too wet. This is particularly important for winter salads, so keep an eye on the weather and protect your seedlings from frosts!

    Growing advice:

    Winter salads traditionally have a strong, robust flavour that can sometimes be a little too sweet because the cold weather generally increases the starches and sugars that the plants produce.
  • Check individual salad plant instructions below. To ensure faster germination rate, generally most Lettuce varieties can be sown in a window or under glass between late-January to mid-March. Regular sowings will ensure that you have a good continuous crop throughout the season.
  • If a dramatic decrease in temperature is predicted, consider covering your outdoor sown seeds with a cloche or fleece for extra protection.

Lettuce: With proper protection, all lettuces can be grown over winter, but some varieties are more hardy than others. Sow your lettuce seeds every three weeks from February to September to ensure ongoing harvest.

Matador Spinach:  This fast-growing, cold-tolerant spinach variety can be sown directly outdoors from late-February until late-October, or later under glass, but all spinach varieties are winter hardy. The leaves are sweeter in the winter too!
Winter Purslane: Hardy, green and tasty, sow the seed of this salad leaf from Mid-march through to September for salad throughout the following winter!
Golden Purslane: A relative of regular winter purslane, just as hardy of a winter salad, but its beautiful red stems look wonderful against a snowy backdrop and will brighten up any salad!
Swiss Chard: Not traditionally recommended as a winter salad, though I find it a remarkable grower through the late winter into the early spring, given it has enough protection and is started indoors then put into the cold frame in early spring. The young spring leaves have a cucumber taste and are great in salads!
Watercress: This plant germinates and grows fast in cold conditions, and can be picked around eight weeks after sowing! It’s not entirely frost-resistant though, so grow it under glass after it has had a few weeks head start growing in your window.
Sorrel: Sow this perennial under glass initially from March-June, and begin to harvest the medium sized lemony leaves after about 2 months. It’s an all time favorite of mine, and it keeps growing and growing throughout the entire year. With some protection, the leaves can be picked all winter long and they will re-grow! Once established, you can easily divide the plants and replant in other areas of the garden.

Happy mid-winter sowing!!!

Yellow Dock & Dandelion Root Syrup

This syrup can be made throughout early autumn and into the early winter. The combination of root herbs: Yellow dock, Dandelion & Burdock, that are used for this syrup recipe are especially good at helping with seasonal transitions, and have been found to be beneficial for those needing liver support and blood cleansing for cases of severe anemia.

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Yellow Dock & Yellow Dock root (above)

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Dandelion Root (above)

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What you will need:

1 part Yellow Dock root
1 part Dandelion Root
2 slices of ginger
1 Cinnamon stick
1/4 part Local Raw Honey
1/4 part of molasses

Use 2 teaspoons of fresh root mix ( 1tbs. dried root) with every 1/4 litres of water, and decoct (simmer) until water volume is reduced by half. Next, Strain into sanitized airtight glass jar and add 1/4 parts honey and 1/4 part molasses to sweeten and preserve the syrup. Then store it in the refrigerator and take it for up to 3 months.

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Dosage:

* For seasonal allergies & transitions: Take 1 Tbs. 2 x a day for one month. 

* For liver support or those with severe anemia: Take 1 Tbs. 2 x a day for 3 months, or as otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

Did you know that you can regrow many of your kitchen scraps?? I’m growing tender carrot shoots from soaking the ends of the carrots in a bowl of water in a sunny window! Here is another way to reuse your kitchen scraps for many more meals than one! The shoots are great in salads, spring rolls, and stir-fry, and they keep coming back for more harvests as long as you change out the water and keep it fresh.  Please try this at home! No additional instructions needed! Feel free to post your pictures and also share!  :-)

My Lettuce seedlings growing in recycled toilet paper rolls & egg cartons in super-market produce containers that have been repurposed into mini-greenhouses!

We cooked slow food on the woodstove tonight, and although dinner took all night to cook, it was well worth it! I love our cozy weekends at home!

Growing Winter Salads in Recycled Materials

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Growing salad greens through the winter is easier than you would think, and the salads are surprisingly sweet because the cold temperatures bring out the sugar starches in the plants.

When you have old furniture, scrap wood and old windows at your disposal, you can use them as building materials for raised garden beds or coldframes (like the one above). Recycling materials to build with is like a scavenger hunt, and allows you to create a means of more space to grow veggies in throughout the year, and while you are putting those materials together it becomes like a fun puzzle, you don’t know how its all going to work together, but it eventually does, and these rewards are much tastier than an actual puzzle!

If you have a small yard, or balcony and you enjoy eating fresh salads, even when its cold and snowy outside, than having a garden extension in one way or another would suit you well! Please do consider!

In my next post, I will include some of my favorite winter salad varieties and some experimental ways to grow the seedlings…

Arugula seedlings growing in the Coldframe!

Arugula seedlings growing in the Coldframe!

How To Dry Mullein Leaves and Make Cough Relief Tea

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Mullein (Verbascum) is a wild plant that grows in barren, urban spaces, and has many healing properties that are found in its roots, leaves, and flowers. It has been used for centuries because of its outstanding medicinal qualities. The tea made from Mullein leaves is effective in treating a variety of health conditions, especially with respiratory disorders, and other types of conditions such as asthma, sore throats, bronchitis, and allergies. Externally it can be used as an ointment, bath or compress to treat sore muscles, and disorders of the respiratory tract, the skin, and the gastrointestinal tract. The Native Americans used the leaves of mullein to ease respiratory discomfort, and smoked it in many of there herbal blends, (surprisingly) to ease coughing and chest pain from coughing!

Because the seasons bring about unexpected allergies and adaptations, I always like to work extra hard during the growing season to harvest my wild medicines, and stock my apothecary for when the winter cold season hits. Mullein is soft like velvet, and is an easy one to identify, as well as being a very reliable urban grower. I harvest Mullein leaves abundantly from mid-spring to mid-winter if there is alot growing, because it stimulates its regrowth, or in small amounts if there aren’t many growing, but I mostly prefer to harvest the plants as close to the wild as I can for optimum flavor and medicinal quality.

The Mullein flowers can be used just as well, and are bright yellow and grow on a tall velvety stem that grows from the center of the eye of the plant. I harvest the flowers during early-summer to mid-autumn and use the flowers in the same manner for respiratory teas and for making healing muscle ointment salves.

Here is an easy step-by-step:

“How To Dry Mullein Leaves and Make Cough Relief Tea”

  1. I harvest the healthiest-looking leaves from the middle and the tops of the plant, and remove any dirt.
  2. Then, take about a foot of chord and string it through the leaves and allow it to dry near a fan or an open window.
  3. Allow to dry for 4-5 days.
  4. The plant dries looking very similar in color as it did while it was fresh, so make sure you feel that the plant is dry and that it cracks when you bend the leaves, if the leaves don’t crack and still bend and feel fresh, then allow them to dry for another few days.
  5. Once the leaves are completely dried, add your Mullein leaves to an air tight container and use within one year while its medicinal properties are strongest.

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Mullein Cough Relief Tea Recipe:

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 - 2 teaspoons of dried mullein flowers and leaves. Cover with a lid and steep for 10-15 minutes. Pour the liquid through a cloth to strain out the plant’s tiny hairs and fuzziness, which can be irritating when drank.

You can drink up to 3 cups of mullein tea daily. Sweeten the tea with raw local honey. Now there you have it…Your very own Homemade, wild foraged, Mullein Cough Relief. Happy winter medicine making!  <3