How To Build A Solid Wall Yurt

This manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to build a semi-solid wall fully portable yurt in under 40 hours. Assembly time: 3-4 hours. Disassembly time: 2 hrs. Available on or, or from the author's website at

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Morels -- The Other Great Easter Hunt.

Of the many varieties of easily distinguishable, edible mushrooms growing in North America, none are more well-known than the morel. Morels are the hardest to confuse with poisonous or toxic cousins. Their unique Christmas-tree shape, their distinctive ridges and valleys, their common coloring all make the morel a unique target. Morels possess a camouflage ideally suited to their early spring woodland habits, blending into dead leaf ground cover, matching the sandy or gravelly soil on which they grow, or remaining hidden underneath a few loose leaves.
Ideally, morels like a rich organic soil that is found in decaying leaves of such trees as ash and elm (although they will enjoy other deciduous decay). The soil has to be sufficiently loose to allow for the network of tendrils to develop under the leaf trash carpet of a woodland or grassy area, but have the right ph balance, and the ability to hold moisture without becoming waterlogged.
Gentle to moderate slopes of wooded hills and mountains provide that rich soil, the filtered sunlight, and the gentle air movement required. Deciduous forests with modest undergrowth frequently suit morel growth, as do the edges of woodland trails, where grasses are not too tall.
Many morel hunters do well in the year after a “burn” of an area, or in areas where there has been a surface disturbance of the soil, such as a logging event. Probably this is due to two factors: the injection of nutrients that are released into the soil, and the elimination of other plants that may have choked light and moisture or blocked sunlight from the smaller morels. Some people will claim that morels are never located near evergreens. Yet, isolated varieties of morels grow in almost any setting, given the right moisture, light & season combinations.
You will probably have your greatest success if you look in these key areas after a rain, when grasses and dead leaves are compacted by the rain, allowing morels to thrust above this compacted debris. By calculating where optimum conditions may exist for morel growth, and selecting the ideal time and day to hunt, you will increase your success rate dramatically.
Fortunately for morel lovers, morels grow in almost every state of the USA and province of Canada, and in part of Mexico. They officially are found in all but the Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico, Florida & Georgia, Alaska and Hawaii and the provinces of Saskatchewan and Newfoundland-Labrador. Yet, at least three varieties are common in Manitoba, two in Saskatchewan, one found in northern Georgia, and one in the eastern regions of Alaska.
Morel types range, from the common yellow morel and black morel to the half-free and western blond morel. While each is specific to a region, many of the types identified are almost indistinguishable from the common yellow or black morel.
Generally, morels are found where winter temperatures reach near or below freezing on a sustainable basis, where deciduous forests allow filtered light during the late spring season, where daytime temperatures are not above 80F during the fruiting season, and where the spider-like rooting networks are able to penetrate and spread in the soil substrate.
Regardless of where they are found, morels make a delectable side dish, or a key ingredient in any of a variety of meals. For more information on morels, visit

Seneca Root Still Great Cold Remedy

Seneca root, also known as snake root, has a long history in North American native diets. Its use as a remedy for colds is well-known. In fact, until the early 1970s, many prairie First Nations people dug the root along roadways and gravelly waste lands, earning up to $14 per pound, “dry, clean & bright.”
As a child, I recall my First Nations friends and their parents working their way down Highway 6 in Manitoba in early July, digging Seneca root. By the time they had made their way from the Fairford reservation to Woodlands, most of the teenagers and adults had accumulated more than 200 pounds each, which they washed thoroughly, then dried in the sun on screens.
For the two weeks that it took for the root to completely dry, they moved into the Whiteshell Provincial Park region to pick wild rice. Between the two wild crops, many of the Fairford residents earned upwards of $6,000 for two months of extremely back-breaking labour.
Seneca root has been one of several cold remedies used buy the original citizens of North America for hundreds of years. However, as chemical solutions to pharmacy have become the preferred method of illness control, the commercial use of Seneca has almost disappeared. Yet, our family continues to rely on a chewed root at the first sign of congestion, which almost 100% success.
Seneca root is found from New Brunswick to Alberta, from northern Manitoba to Missouri & North Carolina. The plant sends up 5 – 20 shoots from the circular head of the root, just above the ground. By late June, these shoots are crowned with a cone-shaped white cluster of flowers about 3/8 inch long (See accompanying picture).
Although many people in the 1900s harvested the plant in the early summer because of the ease of identification, the best time to dig is in early September, when the essential oils are concentrated in the root and the leaf bunches are tinged a deep red.
Once harvested, Seneca roots should be broken from the leaf clusters, washed thoroughly and dried completely, either in a dehydrator, or on a screen in a well-ventilated area. Roots can be stored as is, then ground in a coffee bean grinder and used as a tea, or eaten whole. Beware, though, as the taste is quite powerful, with an astringent taste stronger than Buckleys cough syrup! Remember, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!