Intern Adventures!

This is my 3rd year of having interns help me out with planting, harvesting, product making, foraging and more.

Early Spring garden planted…

early spring 2017

We also go on fun adventures!

You never know what we will be doing…it all depends on what is growing and who calls me to come harvest an abundance of something. This Spring we went to Dawn’s to harvests lots of elder flowers and will be going back there shortly to harvest the berries.


Just LOOK at the size of these bushes!

dawns house

Calendula later in the spring…

calendula late spring

One day we ventured over to Athens to the UGArden, run by the UGA students. My friends Maisy and Noelle take care of the Medicinal Garden and love the additional hands to help harvest. Here is the chamomile we harvested  –

uga chamomile

As soon as the pine catkins were starting to fill with pollen, we harvested the catkins. Unfortunately this year I only got out a couple days so did not collect as much as I wanted! Still a fun time 🙂

pine catkin harvest 2017
Pine catkins full of yellow goodness

The passionflower took over the garden so it needed to be desperately harvested –


lots and lots …

passionflower harvest

Sometimes we just need to take off on a hike into the woods, more often than not!


We only found 1 good mushroom – ONE!!! A beautiful reishi and yes in the background those are kudzu flowers, KUDZU FLOWERS in June!!! That is plain nuts, they should not be out until August, crazy weird Georgia weather this year.


I forgot to get pictures of our wild cherry harvest but we made cherry shrub, a fruity vinegar and sugar syrup that was sooooo darn delicious. 🙂


I love my interns and feel so blessed to be able to have them here helping me and to be able to teach them about herbal medicine. This is just a dream come true and it is all about the journey!

Blessings to you all,


Breakfast of Champions

What is YOUR Breakfast of Champions? Cheerios, Wheaties, donuts or a good well balanced meal? Hopefully you answered the last option. 🙂

My favorite is eggs and kale or a variation of that with whatever I have in the fridge or the pantry. ANYTHING can be put into an egg dish to make a nutritious, satisfying and healthy meal.

Today I made a Kale & Shiitake Omelet. Yum!!! Did you shudder when I said omelet and thought, “oh no, I can’t make an omelet” ? Omelets are easy peasy so long as you have the proper pan and you are patient.


Before I give you this delicious recipe, how about some herbal goodness on the ingredients!

Healthy Benefits – 

Eggs – one of the most amazing food items on the planet! Farm fresh eggs are best with chickens that are fed an organic feed. Full of protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, maintains healthy thyroid function, GOOD for the heart, selenium( for the brain) and omega -3.

Coconut oil – good fat that increases your HDL – healthy cholesterol

Butter – well, it’s butter!!! Grass fed is best. Sadly I did not have grass fed.

Kale – high in fiber, very high in vitamin A, C, K.K is known to be anti-inflammatory , cancer preventing benefits, low in calories, easy to grow!!

Stinging Nettle – you know I cannot leave this out of anything – hee hee. Nettles are high in iron, protein, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, fiber, for allergy symptoms, hair growth- strengthener, lots more!!! You can also feed it to your chickens for better egg production.

Shiitakes – well you know these are MY faves. Super high in B vitamins and good source of protein – medicinally:

Antibacterial, anti-candida, antitumor, antiviral, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, immune enhancer, kidney & liver tonic, sexual potentiator, stress reducer.

Onions and garlic – besides awesome taste, antibacterial, antiviral.

Turmeric – anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, cancer preventer, anticoagulant, diabetes management, antioxidant, helps cholesterol levels.

Cayenne – anti-inflammatory, warming, stimulates circulation.

and cheese – everything tastes yummier with cheese!! 😀


Kale & Shiitake Omelet Recipe

  • 1/2 – 1 cup diced fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/8-1/4 onion diced
  • 1 cup torn pieces of kale
  • 1/2 garlic clove chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder, organic
  • 1 tsp. dried stinging nettle
  • 1/2 dried cayenne pepper chopped, or more if you like it hotter
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • butter and or coconut oil

Heat up a small, non stick saute pan on medium heat. Add a teaspoon or so of butter or coconut oil or both( that is how I do it). Add your mushrooms and diced onion. Cook for 5-6 minutes, adding more fat as needed. salt and pepper.


Add kale, garlic, turmeric, nettles and cayenne – reduce heat to medium low and cook until kale wilts a bit – 2-3 minutes.


Whisk eggs together until there is no visible white part. Can add a tiny amount of milk or water.


Add a bit more butter to pan, spread veggies evenly out.


Now reduce heat to low. Add eggs evenly across the pan. Shake and swirl pan to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes – NO TOUCHING!


Then using a large spatula, flip – yes I said flip – you can do it!!! If nervous, you can slide it out onto a plate and then invert plate back into pan.



Sprinkle cheese, whatever you like or not. I used pecorino romano.


Cook 1 minute more. Fold and slide out onto a plate. Eat and enjoy!!

If you love mushrooms, here is a link for some really good recipes at Mushrooming Together.

Mushroom goodness


American Herbalist Guild Symposium Recap

I just got back from an amazing weekend in Callaway Gardens at the American Herbalist Guild Symposium. My brain is stuffed to capacity with sooo much additional knowledge that I still have to process all that I have learned. 🙂

Some of you may have not heard about the American Herbalist Guild – The American Herbalists Guild was founded in 1989 as a non-profit, educational organization to represent the goals and voices of herbalists specializing in the medicinal use of plants. Our primary goal is to promote a high level of professionalism and education in the study and practice of therapeutic herbalism.

This symposium was more than the average herbal class, it was like Grad School!!! Seriously! Not only that, all the speakers/teachers were the pioneers of the herbal revolution and the AHG – the BIG guys and gals, the ones that wrote the books!!! Crazy, good stuff.

My first class was in Leslie Tierra’s of East West School of Herbology. The class was on Tongue Diagnosis. Did you realize how much you can know about a person just by looking at their tongue? Holy Moly!! I won’t gross you out with all of the pictures but will show a few examples. The good thing about what I learned in her class was reiterated in another teachers class the next day, how cool is that?!

Basically you can look at your own tongue, just take a selfie, and see if there is anything out of the ordinary. A “normal” tongue should be pale red or pink, not too thick or too thin, not cracked or crevassed, tongue coat is thin and white(opague), sublingual veins are not seen or dark, tortuous or distended.

Something like a thick coating on the tongue that may be white or yellow(could be yeast issue, dampness, dryness, accumulation of excess fluids in the body) A sticky coating could mean excess phlegm and congestion.

White coating
Yellow coating

A pale wide and thin tongue body may indicate a Qi and Blood deficiency. Pale and swollen – almost too big to fit in mouth could be a cold deficiency – cold limbs, frigid appearance, clearing throat, diarrhea. This person could use some warming herbs that are stimulating like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper and tonifying herbs such as teasel, ashwaganda, damiana, fenugreek.

A Bluish purple tongue could indicate blood stagnation with symptoms of fixed, stabbing pain, hard immobile masses or lumps in body, dark complexion, dark urine/menses.

Red – deep red tongue could be extreme heat or fire – shortness of breath, disturbed mind, profuse sweating, yelling, hitting. This person would need cold herbs such as self heal or pansy in a tea.

Red red tongue
Red red tongue

Makes you just wanna go hmmmmmm……China-Life-Web_tongue_chart

Next I went on to a plant and mushroom walk with the famous Christopher Hobbs!!!


Visit his website at Bio from his website:

DR. CHRISTOPHER HOBBS is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist, and research scientist with over 35 years of experience with herbal medicine.

Christopher has a doctorate from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology and phytochemistry. He is also a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.

Christopher started off the walk, which included 80 people, by saying, “One time I did this walk, I was naked, yes naked so feel free to do what you wish.” I was like oh my goodness don’t you dare take off your clothes anyone, a-n-y-o-n-e!!! Thankfully, no one did. Could you even imagine? Well never mind.

He talked about honey mushrooms, amanita poisoning, how to smell a mushroom and to not even think about it if it smells like phenol. Christopher also mentioned this cool app called SNAP LEAF and an app for mushrooms where you can snap a picture and upload it to this app and someone gets back to you with the ID. Wowsi! There is another great resource for mushrooms called Mycoweb – keys for diagnosing mushrooms.

I really want one of his books – //“>Grow It, Heal It It’s only $15.95 on Amazon now!!!

grow it
Looks amazing

We found the mother load of Reishi mushrooms(Ganoderma luciderm!)


BUT so sad, there was a good chance they sprayed pesticides and herbicides on the area around the mushrooms. It was literally right out the front door of the hotel. I did bring one home just for show and tell.

Christopher told us his best way of preserving the mushrooms. He said you should make a decoction, reduce it and then DEHYDRATE the liquid into a powder. Again – mind blowing! It preserves the most polysaccharides.

We talked about the benefits of reishi, shiitake, turkey tails, kudzu, usnea, sweet gum.

Another fabulous book that he mentioned by Dan Benske is Chinese Herbal Medicinal Materia Medica. That one is a bit expensive.

Last herb I will tell you about today is the Eastern White Cedar – yep you know you probably have this in your yard. 260px-Thuja_occidentalisCEDAR_NORTHERN_WHITE_fruitMed

Thuja occidentalis can be used to make a tea, just a tea!!!! Used for an anti viral, anti inflammatory, anti rheumatic, colds & flu, in place of echinacea. This cedar is warming and dispersing, wonderful for sore joints. BUT again only as a tea because as it says in the name THUJA(thujones) will be toxic in large doses. By making an infusion as a tea you are not releasing the thujone properties.

I am taking a break from writing. I may get back to the recap tonight otherwise it will be when I get done with herb class this weekend. Please leave comments, I LOVE comments and don’t forget to visit some of our links!

Have a super night and stay warm,


This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting my Bella Vista Farm.

Where To Forage & Wildcraft

This topic comes up quite a bit among people. Where do you forage? Where can you pick plants for medicine? How do you know it is safe?

I hear all kinds of weird sayings, like “oh it is ok to pick by that road, just go 8 feet off the shoulder”, or 15 feet or in the ditch or “I found some plants by the railroad tracks.” Uuugghhhh!

Here are some basic rules to follow when you are hunting for some plants or mushrooms. 

Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt,
know you are harvesting the plant you think you are harvesting!

#1 Have a good field guide to assist you with plant id

– although this should just be to help not your sole source of id.

petersons filed guide

I like the Peterson Field Guides – this one   Peterson’s has quite a few guides for medicinal plants, edible plants, bird watching etc…

#2 Have a plan –

Know where you are going to harvest and what you are going to harvest before you leave. Of course you may find a few surprises to get get that you didn’t plan on. 🙂

#3 Pack a backpack with supplies –

Some supplies you may need include – small trowel, pruners, knife, small paper bags for collecting, a sharpie to write what is in the bags(you won’t remember after it starts wilting), field guide, little notebook for recording what is growing, what was collected and the area, a small bottle of vodka or 100% grain/cane alcohol & bottle of water for tincturing on the spot(this is necessary with a few plants that will not make it home, for example, Indian Pipe must be processed asap), small brush for cleaning roots and dirt off anything to be tinctured right away, natural insect repellent, a hat, rain gear(you never know), a magnifying glass and water for you. Compass may be a good idea too if you are going off in a new place – I recently checked mine and it must have gotten wet – it was cheap so in the trash it goes!!

#4 Dress Appropriately –

Long pants, good boots(snakes are in them there woods and fields!!!! :D), a hat, long sleeves if working where there is poison ivy.

#5 Tell SOMEONE Where You Will Be –

Just in case! Of course bring a cell phone.

#6 Where

If you intend on going on private land – get permission from the owner. They don’t want strangers just popping over a fence to collect berries, other fruits, nuts or digging up plants. This also goes for land that is for sale because you never know if the owners are harvesting their own plants and the last thing they want to see when they go harvest their blueberries is an empty bush.

Public Parks – usually you cannot harvest anything from a public park, check the rules in your area. If you just want clippings of flowers, leaves, mushrooms, you may be ok.

Railroad Tracks – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. I don’t care if there are tons of elderberries there or not, the ground in which they grow is poisoned and toxic from the chemicals in the railroad ties, the train fumes, leakage from containers on the trains, fuel etc…..

In general, stay 50-100 yards from roadsides, railroad tracks, golf courses, and other areas that have been sprayed with chemicals. Avoid areas around old houses and barns where lead paint may have been used. Old orchards may also be problematic, as arsenic and other contaminants were routinely sprayed as pesticides.

001 (1024x768)

#7 Look at TheEcosystem

Look around where you are harvesting that the plants all look healthy and that there are PLENTY of the plant you are looking to harvest. Make sure what you are looking for is not on the endangered species list. Watch where you step – make it like you were never there, meaning pick a few plants from each stand instead of wiping out an entire area. If digging, fill in the holes and replace the mulch around the area.

#8 Consideration For The Plants, The Animals and Others

Pick only what you need, save some for the wildlife and for other people. USE what you pick. When possible, if harvesting a plant that has seeds or berries – replant some of them in the area that you take it from. Keep the plants going.

Elderberries -
Elderberries –

#9 – Repeating Above

BUT absolutely know the plant you are taking before taking it because there are some plant families that have deadly lookalikes. We don’t want any dead folks here!!! Not trying to be funny. The Apiaceae Family is one of the toughest. Queen Anne’s Lace a beautiful, wonderful plant is harmless but Poison Hemlock, well you get it. THEY LOOK ALIKE to a beginner.

harvesting lemongrass, goldenrod and sumac
harvesting lemongrass, goldenrod and sumac

Enjoy the Wildcrafting!!!



What’s Growing in the Woods

It is so amazing to me that I have lived here for 24 years and there is always something new that pops up in the fields or in the woods or down by the creek. OK so the first 19 years I didn’t really care what was growing as long as there was grass for the horses and tomatoes in my garden! 😀

So it’s Early September here in GA, still hot but at least we had some good rain this week. Well of course it rained – the days I watered my gardens, flower beds, mushroom logs. That is always the way.

It was fairly cool this morning and I took Luke, my cute dog, for a walk in the woods to see if anything new was growing.

Luke at the creek
Luke at the creek

I am such a plant geek, I do this every couple of days. You never know!!! There all kinds of these teeny, tiny almost clear white mushrooms everywhere – they dotted logs, the ground and they were pretty cool looking. Not sure what they were and I don’t mess with any that I am not positively sure that they aren’t going to kill me or make me hallucinate.

What I did find were 3 logs, right next to each other with fresh turkey tail mushrooms, covering them completely!!! Yee Ha!

Wanna know more about turkey tails? I am fairly new to these and have just started my first tincture with them but only had a small handful, now I can make a good bit. Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) can be found on dead logs all throught the United States. I have mistaken a few others for turkey tails but they weren’t. Luckily I know a mushroom expert – Megan Burry of My Quality Mushrooms.

The mushrooms do kind of look like the tail of a turkey with the variety of colors – but tend to stay in the buff, brown, cinnamon, and reddish brown range. The mushrooms are strikingly “zonate” with sharply contrasting concentric zones of color, and the surface of the cap is finely fuzzy or velvety. Often the zones represent contrasts in texture as well as color, so that fuzzy zones alternate with smoother ones.

The turkey tails look like they grow in a rosette pattern on the log unlike the parchment mushrooms.

4 different mushrooms found but the top right is the parchment mushroom(I think) - not a turkey tail.
4 different mushrooms found but the top right is the parchment mushroom(I think) – not a turkey tail.

turkey tails

This was the logs that I found – sweet! Before going into the id, I thought I would tell you what they are good for. Like most medicinal mushrooms turkey tails help the immune system due to the polysaccharides like beta glucans – boosting it, giving strength to a sluggish immune system and making it stronger. Also it has been used for cancer treatments in Asia. If I remember correctly this mushroom is part of Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements.

Here is a test to determine if it is a true Turkey Tail from Mushroom

Totally True Turkey Tail Test

1) Is the pore surface a real pore surface? Like, can you see actual pores?

Yes: Continue.

No: See Stereum ostrea and other crust fungi


2) Squint real hard. Would you say there are about 1-3 pores per millimeter (which would make them fairly easy to see), or about 3-8 pores per millimeter (which would make them very tiny)?

3-8 per mm: Continue.

1-3 per mm: See several other species of Trametes


3) Is the cap conspicuously fuzzy, velvety, or finely hairy (use a magnifying glass or rub it with your thumb)?

Yes: Continue.

No: See several other species of Trametes


4) Is the fresh cap whitish to grayish?

Yes: See Trametes hirsuta




5) Does the cap lack starkly contrasting color zones (are the zones merely textural, or do they represent subtle shades of the same color)?

Yes: See Trametes pubescens




6) Is the fresh mushroom rigid and hard, or thin and flexible?

Rigid and hard:


Trametes ochracea

Thin and flexible:

    Totally True Turkey Tail.


Ecology: Saprobic on the deadwood of hardwoods, or rarely on the wood of conifers; annual; causing a white rot of the sapwood; growing in dense, overlapping clusters or rosettes on logs and stumps; year-round; very widely distributed and common in North America.

Cap: Up to 10 cm across; only a few mm thick; flexible when fresh; circular, semicircular, bracket-shaped, or kidney-shaped; often fused with other caps; densely hairy or velvety, often with alternating zones of texture; with concentric zones of white, brown, cinnamon, and reddish brown (but highly variable in color and sometimes with other shades, including blue, green, and orange).

Pore Surface: Whitish to pale grayish; not bruising; with 4 or more tiny pores per mm; tubes up to 3 mm deep.

Flesh: Insubstantial; whitish; tough and leathery.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative to yellowish on flesh.

Spore Print: Whitish.

Now I am no mushroom expert so some of the questions above are still beyond my realm. I did attempt my first spore print today from a mushroom I was not sure of but still can’t id it – hee hee! For now I will stick with Chanterelles, Shiitakes and Turkey Tails.

So I will be clipping away to fill a jar of turkey tails for my tincture. Also mushroom tinctures are a bit different from regular herbal tinctures because they require two processes.

The Double Extraction Process – from Goldroot Botanical Medicine – a couple good recipes on there too.

Tincturing Medicinal Mushrooms: The Double Extraction Process

Mushroom tinctures are made using a double-extraction technique. First, the alcohol extracts the constituents that are not soluble in water, like sterols & terpenes. After the mushrooms have been extracted in alcohol, it goes through a hot water extraction or decoction process to extract the beta-glucans, proteoglycans, and other immune-supporting polysaccharides. The below steps outline the double extraction process using the folk method of tincturing. (For more detailed recipes and ratios, see references below.)

Part 1: Alcohol extraction

Break the fruitbodies up into the smallest pieces possible. This makes for a larger surface area and thorough extraction. It’s easier to do this while they’re still fresh before drying.

  1. Fill a quart or half-gallon canning jar halfway with the dried mushroom.
  2. Add the vodka, filling the jar to the top. Label it!
  3. Cap the jar and keep it in a warm, dark place. Agitate daily.
  4. After about a month, strain.

Part 2: Hot water extraction

  1. Take the alcohol-soaked mushroom pieces that are left over after straining (called the marc) and put them in a pot. Cover them with water.
  2. Simmer for 2 hours. The water will evaporate throughout this time.
  3. Allow the tea to cool before you strain it. Discard all the solids but save the water.
  4. Add this water to an equal amount of the alcohol extract. This gives you an extract that’s 25% alcohol, as the vodka was 100 proof to begin with (50% water/50% alcohol).

You may need to do some measuring before you boil the water to make sure you have enough. Gauge the amount of liquid used in your first alcohol tincture and boil at least triple that amount of water for the hot water extraction. It may seem like a lot but it will reduce (you can always keep boiling if it doesn’t).

Suggested use varies depending on the size of the person and the strength of the tincture. A good standard amount is 1/2 of a teaspoon taken 2–3x a day. It should keep for about 2 years. And as always, store in a cool place in dark-colored bottles away from direct sunlight.

I will continue on this in the next couple days and let you know what else is growing in the woods.

Nighty, night ya’ll,



Blog at

Up ↑