I was introduced to burdock hated and beloved on a wild food walk 3 years ago. We stopped
at some dried up, first year burdock plants on the edge of some woods. We could identify them from the burdock seed pods which inspired the invention of velcro! Our herbalist teacher started digging up a burdock root from a plant that didn’t look like it was so tall. There are two types: Arctium Lappa (greater burdock) and Arctium Minus (lesser burdock).
After much effort and digging our teacher retrieved the root. It was a small plant so it wasn’t too hard to dig up. I have tried digging burdock and believe me it clings to the earth and grows very long. I was not able to dig up a full root. I had to break it off after digging down almost 12 inches. We all tasted a little part of the root. I was not so impressed. What I am impressed with are the healing properties of burdock!!
Why I Call Burdock Hated and Beloved
I call burdock hated and beloved because it is so tenacious that once it gets established in your garden you will always be battling it. It is a very strong, robust plant. I call it beloved because it is so incredibly healing; how can we actually do without it?
Studying About Communicating With Plants
I have been reading a book about communicating with plants. The author suggests that you notice the feelings that you have around plants. So I had an encounter with burdock in my garden the other day. I wrote down my feelings and reactions in a poem:
Burdock Hated and Beloved
What is that dark green unfurling from the earth?
Deep, crinkled, intensely green and alive
Against the backdrop of winter’s stark desolate garden
Burdock hated and beloved…
Coming back for another chance!
It stops me in my tracks…
Astounded with its appearance
In cold mid March
So robust and green
And coming back from
My efforts at destruction!
Joy and pleasure in its appearance
Dread on what to do with it
Let it grow and flourish and multiply??
Questioning how can I kill it again
Last year I heard its cry
As I cut it down, down down
A sense of wonder at its tenacity
Admiration for its strength
Respect for its medical qualities
Awe for its slow-working ability to heal
Looking forward to its joyful purple flowers
So many flowers come forth
And then… so many seeds
Burdock spreading spreading
Throughout my garden
Fear that it will overtake my garden
And I will forever be cutting down burdock
So what to do???
Are you excited about the idea to start worm composting? Since I have been worm composting for over 10 years I would like to talk about the plusses and minuses of worm composting. Vermicomposting is another term for worm composting.
Considerations to Start Worm Composting
Reasons to start worm composting:
Great, fun, learning experience for the kids
Way to compost food scraps
Creating high quality compost for your garden or potted plants
Keeping kitchen scraps out of the landfill
Meditative experience for the adult
Teaching kids to care about our earth and environment
Kids, Composting and Keeping Food Out of the Landfill
Worms gross out and scare some children. And some children are excited to play with them. If you give the scared and grossed out children rubber gloves to wear that seems to take care of the problem. In my classroom experience and with my grandchildren the gloves gave them a new freedom to touch the worms. Then these kids were just as involved and excited as the others.
Worms do a great job composting food scraps. It is an amazing experience to watch the process! You see the food waste just disappear and turn into dark compost that will be an amazing amendment to your garden or potted soil.
We waste so much food that ends up in the landfill. By worm composting we can return this food to the earth or to our potted plants providing great nutrients that the worms incorporated into the compost.
Vermicomposting Can be a Meditative Experience
I say that this can be a meditative experience for adults. Worm composting means maintenance. It means checking out the bin every week to see how things are going. Is the bin too dry, too wet and are the worms consuming the scraps in a timely manner? This can be viewed as meditative or as a pain in the neck. Maintaining the worm bin could be considered as one of the minuses of the experience. It all depends on how you think about it. Personally I enjoy looking into the bin to see what’s happening and to make adjustments if necessary.
The worm composting experience inherently teaches children about our earth, its inhabitants and how to be responsible. Feeding and taking care of the worms teaches responsibility.
Minuses of Worm Composting
The minus to worm composting is taking care of the worms. This would be similar to any pet except that worms don’t ever need to go to the vet. And you don’t have to buy food for them. The food comes right out of your kitchen. Worm composting is a time commitment. Just because you start worm composting, doesn’t mean that you have to do it forever. The process takes 3-4 months. You can experience it and then give your worms away or put them into a compost pile.
Watch this video of my worms eating cucumber peels!