Fall is a time for making winter preparations and digging herbal roots. Cooler weather this week promoted comfortable conditions for such an activity. During the summer, I made mental notes of herbal plant locations for my Autumn digging excursions. Herbal roots can be dug now through early winter, but as the season progresses it can be more difficult to identify these plants once the leaves die back.
While you must be certain of plant identity, there is no reason to fear. As you become familiar with a plant's scent and characteristics you will gain a better understanding of harvesting wild herbs and roots. Here are a few tips that may help you get started.
HARVESTING GEAR & TOOLS
Footwear: Wear proper shoes for digging- preferably waterproof.
Shovel: A garden shovel with a long handle is better for lifting long tap roots. If hiking, a small camping shovel may be helpful and lighter to carry.
Sacks & bags: Keep roots separated in plastic or water-resistant bags.
HARVESTING & DRYING ROOTS
Simply dig the roots of your selected plants.
Large roots usually break, leaving starts for the next season. A good forager always leaves seed.
Do not wash or cut roots before drying for storage.
Dry roots on a screen in a warm, dark location.
Store dried roots in a mesh sack or brown bag with labels & tags.
The roots that I am harvesting this season are Dandelion, Yellow Dock, and Burdock to use in tea infusions for liver cleansing. These roots are beneficial for over-all health and vitality. I'm sure to expand my root list as I continue learn more about the wonderful world of medicinal plants.