Matthew Falco wants to heal the planet by growing his garden. Real estate being at a premium, he purchases land far out in the rugged and beautiful wilderness. He sets out with the intention of thriving on the land, but the struggles he encounters test his very will to survive.
The tale follows Falco as he rehabilitates the land, forages for wild plants and mushrooms, hunts wild game, and faces his biggest challenge — the loneliness of his own mind. Enter the wild, full of beauty and danger, where Falco strives to find his role in the world of society and his place in nature.
“In The Primitive Gardener, [Kevin Feinstein] candidly shares his rich knowledge of living with nature, foraging, and food growing to weave an amazing fictional adventure that in many ways is more of a how-to guide than his preceding non-fictional endeavors The Bay Area Forager and Practically Wild.”
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Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour and Mega Diverse Garden Tour — August 12, 2017 Saturday 10am-12pm (Lafayette) $40 –Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. Sample the promise of what the season brings to our area in terms of foraging. In this class, we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too! Also visit the mega diverse garden, full of unusual and exciting fruits, greens, and herbs! Directions will be emailed to you, please follow them!Share on Facebook
The only difference was that the plants that are grew much faster were from seeds that were saved on site by me. The rest were purchased (but very high quality.) Same soil mix, same type containers, same watering, equal lighting — the exact same conditions.
Other than consciousness affects, the source of the seeds is the only theory I have as to how there could be such a marked difference in the growth. I would assume because they are already that much more adapted to our local conditions. Yay seed saving!
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Not only did we have our first sunny day in a long time here this weekend, it was warmish (61 or so) and beautiful. Now being in mid February, we are far enough away from the Winter Solstice that the sun can actually begin doing something. I made a green smoothie from the backyard patio garden for the first time in a while.From the backyard I gathered: purple tree collards minutina greens and immature seedheads cilantro flat leaf parsley chickweed cleavers a few sow thistle leaves To these in the Vitamix I added: — 2 small meyer lemons whole — peel and all (from the lemon tree I have tended for 11 years) — 1 organic pear from my box with Imperfect Produce — 1 organic (peeled) kiwi fruit from Imperfect Produce — 2 organic bananas from Whole Foods — some high quality sea salt — a tablespoon of MCT oil — 1.5 tablespoons of Organic India Psyllium husks — a good helping of organic chia seeds — Reverse Osmosis water my avocado was rotten, but would have added it (and always recommend avocado in green smoothies) Enjoy! Share on Facebook
It’s been a great mushroom year, and they are still popping up! This Sunday, January 22, 2017, I will be leading a mushroom class in Petaluma at Tara Firma farms. Candy caps, for one, have been spotted!
I will offer private mushroom classes going forward, but this is probably the last open mushroom class of this season. I won’t probably schedule another until late November 2017.Share on Facebook
The rains have begun, and if other forces come together, there will be mushroom foraging! I’ve added two classes for now, hopefully there will be more possible and remember our mushroom season is super short, so don’t miss it!
I am also available for private mushroom tours, just email me! feralkevin (at) gmail (dot) com.
Crash Course in Wild Mushroom Foraging and Tour November 27, 2016, Sunday 10am-12pm. (Lafayette or Oakland Hills TBA). This is the class you need if you are a beginning mushroom forager. I recommend taking this class BEFORE you start trying to use field guides to identify mushrooms and BEFORE you go on a big mushroom expedition. This is the class I wish I had when I started learning about mushrooms years ago.
Crash Course in Wild Mushroom Foraging and Tour December 10, 2016, Saturday 10am-12pm. (Lafayette or Oakland Hills TBA). This is the class you need if you are a beginning mushroom forager. I recommend taking this class BEFORE you start trying to use field guides to identify mushrooms and BEFORE you go on a big mushroom expedition. This is the class I wish I had when I started learning about mushrooms years ago.Share on Facebook
We were out on a bike ride and noticed a beautiful fully grown loquat tree at the end of a court along the trail. Many of its fruit were ripe, reachable and good, so we grabbed a few to take home for later.
At home, I gathered from the backyard patio garden some of my finest ingredients:
- wild onion lily flowers and greens
- tiny broccoli tops
- minutina (buckhorn plantain) leaves
- cilantro pre-flowering tips
- johnny jump up (edible violet and pansy relative) flowers
- flowering mache tips
- baby purple tree collard leaves
We chopped them up and added to them: the slices of loquat, feta cheese, camelina oil / olive oil blend, black pepper and the finest salt in all the Shire.
Also while out on the trail, we came across a very interesting super early feral mulberry tree. We gathered a handful of the ripe berries, which were very good, not the sweetest but had more of that unique mulberry taste with an amazing texture. We added them to Strauss vanilla ice cream drizzled with sunflower butter. I might make another post about this mulberry tree soon.
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Garden salad with:
flowering mache tops
wild onion lily flowers
baby purple tree collards
fresh lemon juice
the finest salt in all the Shire
coarsely ground black pepper
comments: The baby collards hit the umami receptors, but all the food had that richness. The subtle mustardy spice kick of the collards and the garlic/onion spice of the wild onion lily flowers was balanced by the cool succulent quality of the mache. The cilantro tips add almost a sweetness that just made it all work. It really brought out the taste of the garden. We liked this one a lot. Did nothing else while eating it.
cornmeal with baking powder
camelina and coconut oil and grass fed butter
chopped wild onion lily greens
rice milk with lemon juice
Comments: “Tell me that’s not the best cornbread you have ever had” “Wow. Wow.” ” Defintiely one of the best ever. The onions! I can’t even have it any more without the onions.”
Everything in both dishes organic and beyond. All greens and herbs from 8 feet outside the kitchen grown in soil high in trace minerals and beneficial microbes using filtered water.Share on Facebook
It’s been an unusual spring weather wise, — at least unusual relief from the past 5 years of drought. The wild plants are going crazy and the hills are as green as I have ever seen them.
The warm season plants aren’t very happy. Things like tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, moringa, longevity spinach, etc. We haven’t been particularly cold, but certainly have lacked warmth. But lots of wonderful moisture for the cool season crops. I love not watering the garden!
We’re just barely past the equinox, so there is still so much potential for growing food. My favorite time of year!
New classes are up. Happy Spring!
Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour — April 17 2016, Sunday 10am-12pm(Lafayette Community Park meeting spot, Lafayette) $40 — Join me on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. In this class we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too.
Neighborhood Edible Plant Tour — April 23 2016, Saturday 10am-12pm (Walnut Creek, CA) $40 — Neighborhood Edible Plant Walk. I will take you around the local hood sharing his knowledge of the diversity of plants that grow right off the sidewalk, road, and trail. We’ll meet at the Contra Costa Canal Trail right below Masses Sports Bar and Grill. Park on the street, not at the Masses. Thanks!
Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour — May 8 2016, Sunday 10am-12pm(Lafayette Community Park meeting spot, Lafayette) $40 — Join me on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. In this class we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too.Share on Facebook
Here are some plants and seeds that I am looking to sell or trade. Originally intended for the Seed Swap but it was rained out. Just email me what you are interested in and we can work something out. I will mail seeds, but plants must be gotten in person. All the proceeds will go into further locally adapted plant research that is my ongoing passion.
I will have more to come, also feel free to contact me with questions or requests. I actually might have something you want that is not listed or could grow it this season for you.
Just EMAIL me at feralkevin (at) gmail (dot) com
Also known as sunberry, these plants are 3rd generation container grown in the garden. They are very productive, very tasty, unusual wild fruits that don’t need nearly the time, sun, heat, or soil that tomatoes do, but very similar to them and closely related. Small black/dark purple fruit size of a huckleberry. Has a long fruiting season, producing both early and late.
I only have a few plants left — in 4 inch pots.
Wild Onion Lilies: Originally given to me as transplants from Mia Andler at her Fairfax, CA home, these beauties are musts for Bay Area gardens. When hearing about what I do (teaching wild food and foraging classes) folks often ask if I gather wild onions. And the short answer is “no” because we don’t really have wild onions in most of our ecosystems here. The wild onion lily is the only major exception and is a frequent and very tough weed in many urban and suburban settings. It’s very beautiful in most opinions, with delicious spicy edible and beautiful white lily like flowers. The greens add an exciting wild flare to various dishes, eaten raw or cooked. Another wonderful thing about wild onion lilies besides how easy they are to grow, is that they only appear during the cooler months of the year. Disappearing completely by June, you can grow a summer plant (like a tomato) in the same container and when the tomato is finishing up in the Fall (or dies from frost) the wild onion lily reappears from its warm season dormancy, brightening your winter blues.
Great for under deciduous fruit trees such as apples, plums and persimmons, but still excellent for containers and gardens, either in ground or raised beds.
I have seeds and plants!
Longevity spinach cuttings:
Gynura procumbens. I only have unrooted cuttings, but they are easy to root!
This plant is one of my most favorite finds in recent years. I first heard about it from John Kohler at growingyourgreens.com. It’s a sunflower family member (not related to spinach) from tropical and subtropical Asia where it is renowned for its healing and superb nutritional properties. Beyond that, the leaves taste great! Very crunchy and succulent in salads and accents to summer dishes. It can grow year round, dying back if there is a frost, so it might need winter protection briefly in certain parts of the Bay Area. But for a tropical frost sensitive plant, it sure seems to be tough in long periods of cool weather. Grows very quickly in warm weather, even in hot places.
All are from my stinging nettle mother plant (either cuttings or seedlings) from my original Oakland planting nearly 10 years ago as seen in one of my original YouTube videos.
This is the stinging nettle you want. Very easy to grow, productive, gourmet-delicious, and can be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.
My Extraordinary Tomatoes: These tomatoes I’m hoping are going to be something special. Last year, January 2015, I fertilized/mulched many of my winter plants and pots with my own homegrown worm castings. Several tomato seedlings came up in my pots as weeds basically. The extraordinary thing was, it was in January! I have never in this area (Walnut Creek, CA) seen tomato seeds come up this early out in the open (no greenhouse). Not even close. Extraordinary thing #1.
The varieties: I only eat heirloom or open pollinated tomatoes that I grow myself. That’s all it could have been in the compost. I knew the main variety I had grown and eaten that year was either Black Krimm or Cherokee purple (unfortunately got my labeling mixed up and these tomatoes are very similar.) The others I did not know the variety, except that we only order open pollinated heirloom seeds. Hillbilly potato leaf was one of them I remember. I grew out two of these January seedlings. One was certainly either Cherokee purple/Black Krimm but the other was something different. It was straight red and a bit segmented or jagged. Super early fruiting, and one of the most productive tomato varieties I have grown. Very mild flavored, versatile tomato. Enjoyed them over a very long season.
The other thing is that these tomatoes did very well and produced sweet and delicious tomatoes for a long time. An Extraordinary thing #2 — they were both grown in pots too small for them and in a place that doesn’t get but a few hours of direct sun each day.
I saved those seeds and was going to plant them out in mid to late January of this year. However dozens of tomato seedlings came up in the same fashion as the year before from my worm castings. This year they came up outside with no overhead protection or extra heat, in EARLY January! — Extraordinary thing #3. I suppose they could be seeds from 2014 season that did so well for me last year. Or they could very well be the seeds from the food scraps of the 2015 Extraordinary tomatoes. I think the latter is the most likely, so I would assume either my segmented prolific red or my CP/BK.
So I’ve potted them up and have way more than I can plant. Looking to sell or trade.Seeds only:
Tulsi (Kapoor.) Originally from Horizon herbs, now 4th generation from my backyard container garden. Grows mainly in the summer months. It is actually a type of basil (holy basil) so grow accordingly.
Prized in Auryvedic medicine for thousands of years as a healing, tonic herb, it is held sacred my many peoples. Its most common use is as a tea. This particular variety has an almost “bubble-gum” like flavor that in our opinion doesn’t show up in simply using it for tea. I like it in smoothies and especially in the tulsi berry sorbet seen below.
Cape Gooseberry. Physalis peruviana — also known as goldenberry, poha, Incan berry (of superfood fame), and ground cherry. 5th Generation seeds stretching back to when I first got this plant in 2005. Since then, each generation seems to have gotten more tropical tasting. I think this should be all over the Bay Area in markets and restaurants. It is something amazing and unusual that is greatly suited for our unique Bay Area climate, and can’t be grown in the vast majority of the U.S. They are similar to tomatoes in many ways but have a wonderful tangy rich tartness that always reminds me of pineapple and coconuts.
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I am in food heaven most of the time, and I really want to share these experiences with you!
Despite wide availability at supermarkets that we enjoy in our modern era, what you can find there is extremely limiting. You pretty much only find things that store well, ship well, and are widely known. What you can find at even the biggest supermarket doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the types of edible plants out there.
I have been gardening, farming, and foraging in the Bay Area for over 13 years. I am amazed at the types of foods you can grow in our unique and amazing climate — including plants that most of you have never tasted.
So I’m trying something new this year, so that I can share this passion for ultra local food with you. I’m starting a very small scale CSA, where you can essentially pre-order many edibles that I will either grow or forage.
The types of plants the CSA focuses on:
1. Wild plants that grow in our area. It doesn’t get any more local, exotic, or “taste of place”/terroir than this!
2. Unusual edibles that you cannot find at the store or restaurants that are uniquely suited to grow in our amazing Bay Area climate.
3. More common place foods, but rarer and more diverse varieties.
4. Foods that are grown in trace mineral rich soil. Most of the world’s agricultural soils have been highly depleted of trace minerals. These trace minerals not only make the food taste better, (stimulating the umami receptors of the taste sensation) but provide these trace minerals to our bodies in an absorbable way. Virtually all food you can buy anywhere in the Bay Area is extremely deficient in these trace minerals. I grow in re-mineralized soil only!
Here is a list of things that I’m taking pre-orders for:
They fall into 4 categories.
1. Plants to grow (little plants to grow yourself)
2. Seeds to plant
3. Plants to eat — a bunch of greens to consume, for instance
4. Taste — not enough to serve your family, but enough to taste to see if you like it!Everything is $10!
wild onion lilies (plants to grow, seeds, taste)
stinging nettles (plants to eat, plants to grow)
chickweed (plants to eat, seeds, plants to grow)
black nightshade (sunberry) (plants to grow, seeds, taste)
longevity spinach (Gynura procumbens) (plants to grow, taste)
chinese artichokes/crosnes (tubers to plant, taste)
cape gooseberries (golden berries) (plants to grow, seeds, taste)
cleavers (seeds, plants to eat)
purple tree collards (plants to grow, taste)
Bolivian cucumbers (seeds, plants to grow, taste)
aloe vera (the kind for eating) (plants to eat, plants to grow)
salad burnett (plants to eat, seeds)
wild artichokes/cardoons (plants to eat, plants to grow, seeds)
wild plums (select varieties) (fruit to eat, cuttings to graft)
autumn olive (taste, plants to grow)
More to come! Any requests?
If you are interested in anything above, simply email (feralkevin (at) gmail (dot) com)and we can work out the details of delivery date and payment options.
Recently, I went on a bike ride here in the Diablo Valley. There are amazing bike trails, both paved and for mountain bikes all over this area. I have never been to a place with better and more diverse types of trails so close to town. One of the main reasons I love living here! And course I closely observe the flora of these trails, edible and otherwise. Right now there are all kinds of edibles,– madrono fruits, oranges and lemons of different varieties, even avocados, — as well as a lot of wild winter/spring greens. And of course olives, which I will get to soon. Other times of the year, I see numerous other edible greens, fruits, and nuts. These suburban bike trails and their surrounding wilderness areas are some of the most abundant foraging I have seen anywhere in the Bay Area.
So olives. I love olive oil and its health and flavor benefits are widely known. Cured olives I also enjoy, but honestly are just too salty for me most of the time. Curing them by any process I have ever tried or read about, seems to be not worth the effort to me, especially if done on a small scale. Pressing the oil is a similar affair, and really isn’t practical without a fairly large press machine. For both of these methods, there is also the issue of the olive fly, which infects many olives locally. I don’t know about curing with these, but I certainly have had oil go rancid extra extra quick from pressing these.
So I bike by these olive trees regularly. Some years there are heavy crops, others not so much. But there are tons of olives all around the Bay Area completely unharvested. I usually just think about how we should be using these rather than doing much about it myself. Too bad you can’t just eat them off the trees, right? I remember the first time I tried this, years ago. It was a terrible taste and sensation that makes your mouth scream, “poison!”
But then enter something I heard David Wolfe say. He said that he found these olives super ripe fallen off the tree in an arid area, and left to sort of dry-cure, — get super ripe on the ground. It made me think.
So this winter, I biked past a few trees with olives all over the trail. South facing so extra sun and warmth to keep them from rotting. Because of the trail they were all mostly squashed by traffic, and to be honest, kind of gross and dirty. But I thought, “Why not try them off the tree?” The olives left on the tree were partially dried, and looked similarly super ripe. I tried some from two different trees.
First I want to share with you the color. It was a deep purple, beautiful and screaming “high in antioxidants and flavor.” The oil content was also extremely high, because the riper the fruit the more oil. I could feel the oil on my lips, which was nice as they were getting chapped from biking in the cold. The first one was delicious but the skin was a bit tough and bitter. The olives from the second tree had no bitterness and skin was a nice texture. These even had a hint of fruitiness and sugar! I would say it was in the top 5 best flavor experiences of my life! Something all lovers of food, olives, or olive oil should try!
Urban Trail Foraging: Winter Bike Tour — February 20 2016, Saturday 10am-12 pm (Walnut Creek) $25 — There are a lot of edible plants growing all around our amazing bike trails in the Diablo Valley. I would argue we have some of the best bike trails in the world. And they cut right through a very prime growing environment for many types of plants — many of them edible. Join me on a 5-8 mile bike tour (it’s all paved so road or mountain bike is fine) and discover all the edibles. $25 per person.
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The hills are green, the sun is increasing, and it’s our best time of year for edible plants!
Urban Trail Foraging: Winter Bike Tour — February 13 2016, Saturday 10am-12 pm (Walnut Creek) $25 — There are a lot of edible plants growing all around our amazing bike trails in the Diablo Valley. I would argue we have some of the best bike trails in the world. And they cut right through a very prime growing environment for many types of plants — many of them edible. Join me on a 5-8 mile bike tour (it’s all paved so road or mountain bike is fine) and discover all the edibles. $25 per person.
Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour — February 27 2016, Saturday 10am-12pm (Lafayette Community Park meeting spot, Lafayette) $40 — Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. In this class we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too.
Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour — March 12 2016, Saturday 10am-12pm (Lafayette Community Park meeting spot, Lafayette) $40 — Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. In this class we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too.
Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour — March 20 2016, Sunday 10am-12pm (Lafayette Community Park meeting spot, Lafayette) $40 — Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. In this class we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too.
Wild Edible Plant Foray and Tour — March 26 2016, Saturday 10am-12pm (Lafayette Community Park meeting spot, Lafayette) $40 — Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local edible wild plants in the hills East of the Caldecott tunnel. In this class we are able to actually forage for many things! So not only bring your learning hat, but your bags and clippers, too.Share on Facebook
I know each mushroom class I have been threatening to be the last of the season, but this one truly is! Locally, the mushrooms have been a bit late this year, but past mid January, pretty much only Chanterelles are left.
Wild Mushroom Crash Course and Tour — January 16, 2016, Saturday, 9:30am-12:30pm (Lamorinda, CA area) $50 — Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local wild mushrooms! Get the crash course on the local fungal foraging scene and explore the area, seeing what’s fruiting in our short but often intense mushroom season!
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It’s been an odd year for mushrooms, but it’s still within the season. These latest round of rain storms with the increased temperatures has mushrooms coming up. So I added another class while the season is still on, this could be the last one of the year (no more until late November 2016.) Possibly one more on January 17.
Wild Mushroom Crash Course and Tour — January 9, 2016, Sunday, 10am-1pm (TBA — Oakland Hills AND Lamorinda, CA area) $50 — Join Kevin Feinstein (Feral Kevin) on a guided tour of local wild mushrooms! Get the crash course on the local fungal foraging scene and explore the area, seeing what’s fruiting in our short but often intense mushroom season!Share on Facebook
Our mushroom season is so short here locally, but often very intense. I feel that with our busy schedules we often miss much (or all) of it. It is especially difficult to find locations suitable to take a large group to find and learn about mushrooms. But many of you out there are seeing them pop up, maybe even going on your own expeditions. So don’t know what kind they are or how to go about further investigation on your own? Call me! We can set up FaceTime or other video conferencing, or a simple call/text and and submission of video or pictures, probably taken from your phone. Best done live in the field, but also possible to do after your foray. When am I available? Off and on, here and there, just like you. If you want to schedule something in advance with me, email me.
If you just happen upon mushrooms without a plan or appointment, as often occurs, just email me immediately at feralkevin (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject “Virtual Mushroom Foraging.” If I am available I will send you a PayPal link to purchase a live consultation as described above as well as my phone number. Three options, 15 min, 30 min, 1 hour ($15, $30, and $50 respectively). If you catch me, great, if not, then maybe next time. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays are the best.
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