A Foraging Plan is the Key
When you first realize you can forage for food and medicine, it is often simply exciting to pick anything at all that someone tells you is edible or medicinal, even if you don’t really like it or need it. That’s ok. It’s fun to try things, and it’s exciting to know that if you had to eat from your backyard, you could.In fact, once you have a little more insight about your needs, your foraging will become strategic and purposeful.
10 Steps to Making Your Foraging Notebook
Most foraging you do will be for food and medicine. There are other uses for plants we will discuss later, but today we will focus on our medicinal needs.
- Look in your medicine chest and write down everything that is in there, placing each item on its own line. Make sure you include pills, liquids, and ointments.
- After each item on the list, write down what you use it for (ex. headache, cramps, burns, muscles, etc.)
- Once you have your list of symptoms, pick up an Herbal Medicine book for your region, like (Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest, by Charles Kane, or Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West, by Michael Moore).
- Open to the index section and look for that symptom. Try a few options if you don’t find it. Itchy skin may be under SKIN, BITES, EXCEMA, ITCHY, RASH, etc.
- Next, look up the page numbers listed and write the plants names next to the listed symptom.
- For each plant, look up several photos online so you can identify it. Later you may want to have a single page for each symptom or plant with photos printed next to it.
- Read where to find the plant, how and when to harvest it, and how to prepare or preserve it for use.
- Learn as much as you can about each plant that you want to harvest. Is it for internal or external use? Are there any cautions?
- Now, get out a calendar and mark the general time when you can collect each plant. This may require a trip to the mountain or stream, or simply a walk into your own yard.
- Finally, determine what collection and preservation tools you’ll need so that you are ready when the time comes. That could include shovels, baskets, buckets, bags, pruners, knives, dehydrators, grinders, and more. You can find many of these things at thrift stores if you look.
Slowly you will fill up your calendar, notebook, and medicine chest with natural medicines that are specific to your own needs, harvested and prepared by you.
Now do the same thing with edible plants. Instead of your medicine chest. Open your pantry, refrigerator and spice cabinet. I’ll have more on this later. But I think for now, you have plenty to fill up your time until it is cool enough to venture out.