Wednesday, May 8, 2019

nettles

Last week, I spent a glorious afternoon in an ancient hawthorn grove. Amongst the grasses, the ground was carpeted with cleavers and stinging nettle.  Filled with love for these nourishing beings, and gratitude for the chance to experience their energy and health-giving harvest, I dedicated my day to this place, to these plants.



My favourite way to harvest nettles is to lay out a lightweight, natural-fibre cloth in the shade and toss the plant tops onto it. This requires minimal handling; the nettles have plenty of room to breathe and stay fresh; the corners can be tied criss-cross to create a handy, lightweight sachet whose size is perfectly suited to your harvest; and hey, you could even hang the parcel over a long stick, swing it over your shoulder, and have your very own bindle.



At home, using tongs, I blanch the nettle tops whole, until they are wilted and softer; plunge them into a clean sink of cold water; transfer to a strainer; and then take a handful at a time and squeeze out some more water, creating a tightly packed green ball. I then fill up freezer bags with these nettle balls and keep them in the deep freeze to use as needed. This method also works well for preserving other greens.  Last night we made nettle pizza, however usually I make pesto, with one ball making enough pesto to cover a package of pasta. It is such a quick and yummy meal, it's become one of our weekly staples. Pesto, by the way, is a great way to get reluctant kids to eat greens. The blanching water will turn a deep, thick green; we drink down this delicious and nourishing brew, hot or cold, over the following days. The cold-plunge sink-water also turns green, and I water the houseplants with it. One more fun fact: this season, the processing time at home pretty much equalled harvest time.



Big, big love for stinging nettles. When I think of nettles I think of untamed beauty, nourishment, abundance, strength, support, stimulation, and embracing things (or persons) for what they truly are, prickles and all. 




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Spring is here. 
Here are some things from the last few days
blending work and play

infusing neighbourhood dandelion, cherry and plum blossom vinegars



while looking for a spot to pee...



working in a pond, there was a little birdie hanging around, and then I came across this sweet scene in the middle of the cattail stand. Realizing I may be causing this sparrow some worry, I stepped away for lunch to let her feel safe and sit



and then some butter-sauteed cattail shoots as part of the evening's supper



when you embrace the health-supprting offerings of our local "weeds"
 open your palate to their wild flavours 
instead of despair
the sight of them brings joy:
burdock root for tomorrow's supper


"blending work and play"
... which is which?



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

  Spring is here, i notice the brown water pooling in the bathroom sink as I wash hands after a day in the garden, and welcome the first forearm rash of the season, 
and I look forward to all this year brings                   


                     burn me
                       sun
                     burr me
                       burdock
                     bite into me
                       bugs
                     land
           in my tangles
                       leaves
                     scratch
                     stick
              and prick me
                       thorns
                     stain me
                       berries
                     resonate
       with my senses
                       resin
                     rough up my skin
                       rocks
                     dry
              and dye
                    my hands
                      soil
                    steal my breath
                      morning air
                    sneak into my house
                      duff
                    fall over me
                      rain
                 
                    and after it all
                    embrace my body
                      icy river

          this is life
   and i am alive

Monday, March 27, 2017

IMG 1730

After an afternoon in the shop, tools are tuned, sharpened, and oiled - ready to get the season going after a long and snowy winter!
Contact me to talk spring clean-ups, garden maintenance and plans for the 2017 growing year.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I'm looking forward to hosting this experiential workshop about Evergreen Trees and Infused Honey:

Ever-giving Evergreen Honeys, from Forest to Kitchen
A Plant Walk and Infused Honey Workshop 

Evergreen-infused honeys are bright, surprising and uplifiting for both the palate and spirit, and great medicine to boot! 

This workshop will begin with a plant walk in a Nelson forest where we meet our local conifers. We will learn to identify the different trees, as well as indulge in their raw scents, tastes and textures.

Everyone will harvest a branch or two of their choosing and we will then gather indoors where I will guide you in creating your evergreen-infused honey, and we will cover tips for infusing,decanting and enjoying, as well as Evergreen Medicine.

Honey-making supplies are included and tea will be be served.



in case the poster is a bit small to read, here are the pertinent details:

-Sunday, March 19 2017, 10am-1pm, rain or shine
-Meet at Nelson Memorial Cemetery gates at the top of Falls St (2300 block)
-$35 includes Plant Walk, Infused Honey Workshop and all supplies to make your honey
*maximum 10 participants
*pre-registration and payment (by e-transfer or cash in person) required

contact me for more info or to register




Monday, April 25, 2016

Garden Understories is now based in Nelson BC!


Ahhhh, Wowie. My family moved to Nelson BC early this year and I'm so happy to say my gardening services are now available here. I am offering the same garden work and play (listening to nature, permaculture inspired, soil building, silent and human powered,  mulch heavy...), except that my beloved trailer, built with scavenged materials around our former home in east Vancouver, did not make the trip. So I'll be travelling by foot or car. You can have a look at the Services page to read more about what I offer. Reach me at 250 505 4403 or email gardenunderstories@gmail.com if you might like some help in your garden this year. 
                         -Monica

Friday, November 6, 2015


This Sunday November 22, I'm looking forward to hosting a free workshop: Introduction to Urban Foraging, at the Hastings Community Centre in Vancouver. These workshops are fun and informative conversations about some of our most common "weeds". They are packed with info about the plants, what they offer, and how you can get to know them and bring them into your life. I choose plants that are seasonal and in everyone's neighbourhood, so people feel confident begin wildcrafting as soon as they leave. There will be samples of tea, vinegars, food and even tinctures, as well as a little booklet to take home. Join us for some lively discussion and inspiration!

Sunday, November 22, from 11-1. Meet at Room 9, Hastings Community Centre, 3096 East Hastings Street, Vancouver. This workshop will be indoors and outdoors, so please dress appropriately!
Registration Required - Please email me at gardenunderstories@gmail.com
or call 604 202 9755