Bug Repellents at Your Table?

I think this article of mine first appeared in a decades-ago Organic Gardening and Farming publication, but as we leaf through the brightly colored pages of always- thriving plants in the seed catalogs this month, such old news can be dusted off and may serve as a useful reminder. My thesis was, "If you can eat your garden pest controls, then you're surely using natural, organic methods!" Read More


In the end it won't be cholesterol that kills us; it'll be errands. It won't be the eating of all those eggs;  it'll be that last quick trip to the store or farm to pick them up - and, oh! While I'm there I might as well pick up some more milk for the weekend, and while I'm around the corner, I'd better stop and get some gas, and didn't Fred mention he needed to change the oil in my car this weekend? Read More

The "Invasive Plant" Spin

I am delighted that Fuller's Teasel is establishing itself nicely in my wild garden. I deliberately bought seeds from Richter's Nursery in Goodwood, Ontario, Canada, three years ago, and set about nurturing them. Teasel is a biennial, with the first year roots used for a tincture to help treat people with Lyme disease. Read More

Seeds refuse to go unnoticed

Seeds refuse to go unnoticed. All this week they have silently been begging me for print. There is tremendous silent energy packed into a seed. Read More

Consider Potatoes: especially mashed.

Potatoes have saved lives. Many seafarers would have died of scurvy but for the discovery that potatoes, cooked in their jackets, contained enough vitamin C to prevent that plague of the voyagers. Read more

An Old Farmhouse After Christmas

The last of the oatmeal jam bars aren't even being snitched. It may be because we all have winter colds and can't breathe through our noses and eating crumbly bars with our mouths open is so graceless. But the kitchen of an old farmhouse notices, Read More

Gleaning Companions

Sometimes when the days are so short in January, I go and stand in front of the pantry shelves of canned jams, pickles, juices, and my medicinal tinctures.

Even on a grey day, light shines from them in a magickal way, jewel colors and forms reminding me of late, hot summer. Read More


It's not for everyone, this proverbial "piece of the rock." There have always been Johnny Appleseeds among us who wander, give themselves to land that isn't theirs, never need to "own." Read More

Motherhood is a very lonely occupation.

Oh, there are lots of other mothers around - across the fence, down the road, milling around in the school corridors, waiting in the dentist's office. Read More

Wild Rabbits

When I get home from the greenhouse in town, the wild rabbits crowd around the open car door and deluge me with questions. "So, did you bring home the pansies?" "How high are the cabbages?" Read more

Brimson Residents very concerned about DNR's Copper-Nickel Leases

On a couple of dark and stormy evenings last year, the old Finnish tamarack log community hall in Fairbanks Township, Brimson, was bursting at the seams, with over 60 residents from the adjoining area gathered to hear representatives from the Department of Natural Resources' Lands and Minerals Division discuss eminent domain issues and the area's geology. Read more

Medicinal Herbs and the Flu

I'd suggest boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) - this isn't the similar-sounding comfrey or "knit-bone." Boneset is a close relative of Joe Pyeweed or "Gravel Root"- both are eupatorium - NOTE: this is used only for healing a viral infection - not as a preventative -

Boneset is hugely anti-viral and anti-bacterial and will also bring down a fever and check a cough, which (cough) seems to be a symptom on the news of H1N1. Read more

"The Kitchen Cabinet" (at this very political time)

We think of herb and food combinations, such as "salmon and dill" or "lamb and mint," with familiarity and possibly with nostalgia for our mothers' "Sunday cooking". But truly
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A Sense of Wonder

May I propose that children aren't born with a sense of wonder? And if they are very lucky, they may acquire one by their middle 30's?

I think we are born bored. Read More

The Garden in Winter

 Every time we have a below zero night now, gardening catalogs bloom in the mailbox, gently insulated by IRS tax forms. It is an ignominious beginning.

 I leaf through all that blooming clay paper, the luscious clusters of fruits and berries growing in zones always immediately south of us. Read More

Calling the Circle

In mid-winter here, a nurse at the University of Minnesota at Duluth's Student Health Services asked me if I would consider packaging up 50 small pots of my winter-made, wild-herb Boreal Forest Triple Antibiotic Ointment (see my herbal store, this website), for her medical team to take on a volunteer medical mission to Kenya, to isolated, outlying communities there. The University's health clinic has had great good luck with my Boreal Forest Triple Antibiotic salve, for . Read More


The pin cherry leaves are turning: a scarlet plume here, an apricot banner over beyond the garden shed. Maples, too: Read More


This is the time of year when I know again that I've badly misjudged aspen. The tree species, "populus tremuloides," is tolerantly referred to around here as "popple."

For most of the year, I wish there were more Norway pines, soft and stately with the wind soughing through their needles. Heaven knows I've planted plenty of them, many for the Forest Service and some for the homestead here. The rabbits and deer sneak in and prune the young seedlings to death. Read More

The Conifers Step Forward

The deciduous leaves are all down now, making a much needed mulch for the tender perennials in the herb garden, and for even the hardy northern plants, shrubs, and trees. Small creatures rustle among those leaves; Read More

Spring Comes to the North Woods

The air has that watery spring smell to it. Pussy willows are fluffing out all along the creek. But mainly I know spring is here because the blue-jays - always sassy for corn - are doing their spring song-and-dance when I fill the bird feeders. They do what looks like deep knee-bends and then they stretch up tall (I know there is a French ballet phrase for it) and call their musical spring "ker-glibbit", half low, half high. It always sounds like a rusty water pump handle, just as the water begins to gush up.
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A friend of 20 years, who isn't far away himself, sent me an article on homebodies. In this country, we all seem to be able to hold onto distinctly opposing views of mobility at the same time. My Dad, for instance, moved only one county over from his birthplace, to marry and raise his family. Read More

The First Real Snow Has Fallen

The first real snow has fallen - just enough to leave footprints in. What exhilaration she felt at seeing those first flakes come tumbling down. And what panic she felt, for a moment, at seeing them stay and stick. So this was it, then; what was done was done, and the rest would wait for spring. That instinctive dread in the face of such authority as a snowstorm: it must be born of generations, of lineage through epochs, each one of us caught in a still life, holding a rake or harvest basket or some other tool, and looking up at the sky, bemused, wary, resigned, frightened. Read More

Winter Solstice

Does every living thing understand, in some way, that the winter solstice has passed happily again?  That, without any of us - people, beavers, trees - having done much toward that end, the earth is tilted at just the right angle?  Is spinning at just the right velocity?  Circling the sun at just the right speed?  And, thank heavens, at just the right distance from the sun? Read More

Recycling an Orange

A friend of many years sent us a surprise box of citrus fruits from Florida over the holidays, and we packaged up the rinds and sent them back! Of course, there is more to this story, but I like to start with that. This is really a recycling story. When we were finished, there was nothing left of the original gift at all. Read More

Giving Ground Essays


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Giving Ground
Superior National Forest
1223 Little Creek Road
Brimson, MN 55602