Cultivating Mushrooms, Collecting Herbs, and Table Top Distilling - Book Reviews

Just yesterday I lugged myself through the grocery store. Though I am grateful for the ease and convenience, it just doesn't compare to picking/growing fresh produce in your own backyard. So I am thrilled to add 3 new books to my collections for doing just that!

The first book that showed up on my doorstep was Mushroom Cultivation - an illustrated guide to growing your own mushrooms at home. This book is a great overview of which mushrooms to grow at home and how to go about doing it. It's pretty slim and easy to read. It goes over which trees to use - and tree identification. I am a fan of the information and the pictures! Now to get the ambition to break into the mushroom world....

The second book was The Homesteader's Herbal Companion. This book also has great pictures - and how-to's and recipes for making salves, essential oils, and medicines. It even has a forward by Joel Salatin! I am in agreement with most of the herbs in this book, but as an active forager - I have a few complaints.

In my opinion, some of the best foragable plants (medicinally speaking) are missing, and there is a major error in the listing for Mullein. This is a fantastic and very useful plant (more uses than mentioned) but it is also dangerous. There is no mention about the hallucinogenic nature of the seeds or that it was traditionally used to poison fish. The book does discuss using the leaves and flowers, with no mention of the seeds.

This is one of the major dangers in comprehensive "herb" or "wild" plant books. There is a lot of parroting back in forth between books but if someone does not have extensive knowledge of each particular plant, it's dangerous to repeat bits and pieces of information.

The last book - Tabletop Distilling - inspired me to want to buy my own still. Let's just add it to the menagerie of solar ovens, dehydrators, kraut crocks, butter crocks, food get the drift! But it did motivate me to want to try and make some of my own essential oils.

With our 40 acre farm, I can certainly grow enough herbs/flowers to give it a shot. The book is detailed and full of useful information. A great reference guide for sure!

I will come back and update this post if/when I accomplish any of the adventures described in the books above.

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