Thursday 16 June 2016

Products The Creators Garden Endorses

Here is something that I have been wanting to do for quite some time. I want you to know what has worked for me in the past few years of harvesting medicine. I have purchased thousands of dollars worth of equipment over the years in search of what works for a medicine harvester.

Where I ended up is digging sticks. You have two options. Make digging sticks on site each time, literally the day of, or early in the year you can make a few digging sticks to last you a season or a few years. I personally make another one everywhere I go. I do this because I am notorious for being too excited and breaking everything. Besides, I have been allowing myself to become attached to sticks my whole life, you know when you are a kid and you grab all the sticks that look like guns and knives, but we all know these relationships never work out, they always end in a fire or being too camouflaged in the forest!
Everyone, save yourselves the expense of shovels, trowels and every other tool you can get at Canadian Tire and learn to love digging sticks. This is the biggest piece of medicine harvesting tool investing advice I can give you. Honestly. 

Now, lets get into some tools I do suggest investing in and the brands I have come to know and trust. 

Lets start with knives. You need a knife for EVERYTHING. If digging sticks are the main event of this blog post, knives premise this, as you need a knife to make a digging stick! 


I have been buying knives my entire life. Since I have been pursuing plant based medicinal knowledge I have been through dozens of knives, spending hundreds of researched dollars trying to find a knife that can handle digging in gravel, dirt, felling wrist sized trees, scraping bark etc. I needed a knife that fir for a medicine harvester.

I am experienced in bush-craft, I know knife etiquette but knives were seemingly only able to handle weeks, at best a month before they break or were a constant struggle to keep sharp, and the blade would literally be sharpened until it disappeared.

The Swedish Fire Knife has been with me for 3.5 years, seldom needing to be sharpened. They are made with a higher quality, more dense steel and can only be sharpened with more specialized whetstones. The main reason why I promote this knife over any other is because it has a spine perfect for shaving bark. We use bark for medicine a lot and this knife scrapes bark off like no other, it is truly night and day with every other knife I have tried.

My first light my fire knife lasted a good year and a half before it was stolen, I immediately bought a new one that is still with me 2 years later. My wife has one and she takes good care of everything so I am guessing she will have it for quite some time. They are the best knife I have ever used, and everyone who follows my opinion is always completely satisfied.


Boiling Water

I make medicine. The medicine that is inside of every leaf, root, bark, seed and stem are oils, volatile oils. To ingest this medicine you simple brew it up in some hot water, tea is almost always the most effective and active way of extracting medicine. Its osmosis, the medicine (oils) move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration, osmosis jones!

Tea is amazing. To make tea you need to get water to a boiling temperature. I have always used simple propane stoves, they are quite reliable, cheap and really easy. That being said, it definitely has downfalls, propane doesn't work in the cold, you have to always buy propane, and I'm not going to lie, propane is kind of scary in hot vehicles for puncture issues and carbon monoxide whateverness.

The biolite has been an amazing investment. It uses any biofuel from twigs to dried moose poo and everything in between. You never have to buy propane and it always works in the winter, even giving off a decent amount of heat. It also forces you to keep on top of your fire lighting skills.

This stove packs up at the size of a propane canister, in a sleeve that can fit in most water bottle size holsters, making it very packable, it weighs next to nothing and is awfully durable.

Most importantly it gets water boiling super quickly. This is my number one recommended stove to get water hot very quickly for making medicinal tea.

They also offer the Biolite base camp, which is the same idea, but massive.

Biolite also runs amazing charity. They use moneys spent on campstove and basecamp products, they give a home stove to families in third world countries alleviating a ton of hazards, and making life that much easier. This stove is amazing, and also supports a great cause!


Fire Lighting

To get water boiling you are going to have to know how to make a fire. To light that fire I recommend the light my fire flint and steel. Very durable and the amount of strikes you get from one stick is well worth it, especially if you are doing fire lighting programming with children! Their eye-catching colors have kids as young as 5 creating fire.


Bug Jackets

Bug Jackets are a great comfort harvesting medicine as well, any bug jacket will do. I've learned my lesson constantly buying the less expensive option. You literally become a slave to it, always having to buy a new one, I know now that investing in great quality equipment means only doing it once! This is the only time that I encourage buying the cheaper option. I get mine from Canadian Tire. The quality bug jackets you can get for $100 wont do you any better. Until they can make a bug jacket tough enough to handle trekking through thickets of balsam fir where all of the bottom branches are dead and constantly snagging the jackets to shreds, I wont be investing.
Balsam fir snags are the deadliest thing for bug jackets and you are always going to be surrounded by them. They are the transition zone tree, from maple stands to swamps and fields to rivers, balsam fir is always going to be there, waiting to shred your brand new bug jacket. Buy cheap ones.


Pots are important for making tea, of course! I like GSI pots, I received one as a wedding gift and its conductivity is dramatically noticeable, it gets super hot super quick. Cheap pots, for the most part, reflect the heat! GSI has engineered their cookware to absorb all the heat, severely cutting fuel consumption. GSI pots are also always very lightweight and oddly durable (a must for me. I break everything.) Another neat-o pro about the GSI pots is that the charcoal bottoms from cooking with coals, the biolite or a fire washes off so easy!


You can easily cheap out and buy an enamel pot, but with the tiny price difference, it would be foolish. Get a great pot and you will be laughing how efficient they are.



Lastly, a water filter. So I make tea for people, I take people out into the wilderness and find a ton of medicine and the participants debate a bit as to which tea they would like to sample. Once they know, I make a huge pot for everyone to try. I usually haul a big 10-20L container of water to use to make the tea. Simply bringing a water filter is definitely and infinitely the better option. Lighter, no bulk and way cooler.



Ok, so this is another big investment for the medicine harvester. You need a blender to grind roots, bark, seeds, etc. into dust to make the most effective medicinal teas. Now, the absolute best way to get this done is with a huge mortal and pestle. Made with the trunk of large trees, not made with small stones. These are a huge investment, I have seen improperly made ones sell for $400 to $500! All you need to watch out for is if they were made with dried wood or fresh. If they are made with fresh wood the chances of them cracking is too big of a risk, but if they are made from dried wood and oiled regularly, they can last a few lifetimes.

Again, the huge mortar and pestle is the way to go, always. If you do not know anyone capable of creating such an amazing piece of work, than you might want to buy a blender.

This is another area I have invested hundreds and hundreds of dollars into to find the right one.

Any blender will NOT do. Blenders are usually designed to 'throw' ingredients up to the lid and smash down into the fast moving blade on the bottom. If you are grinding dried plant matter, most blenders will be so violent with your medicine and create a large enough amount of dust it sets off fire alarms. The issue with this is that the dust escaping contains the most precious parts of the plant, and it is just vanishing!

Heat is also a huge issue when it comes to grinding medicine, you want the least amount of heat as possible. Heat forces the medicine, the oils, out of the plant, before it is even brewed! So in all medicine processing the least amount of heat is always recommended, always be mindful my friends! Blenders get awfully hot. 

So for small scale I recommend getting a coffee/spice grinder, which have blades and walls designed to pull the material down, not shoot it up. It grinds virtually dust free, it is very incredible. They do get hot though, and the small amounts of dust that are produced go into the motor and on the belts and they break. They definitely do not last long. The 2 coffee grinders that last me the longest for medicine grinding are one common one by black and decker (smartgrind) and salton one that they no longer make! Now, coffee grinders get quite hot after a few turns so I am always sure to let it cool off to keep all those medicinal oils intact.

Time for the coolest part. If you are doing larger scale medicine processing, the large pitcher blender that I really recommend is the Blendtec. They have a pitcher called "wildside" that if it is blended on speeds 5 and below has that sucking action where it brings all the material to the blades. Its magical to watch! Much larger loads of plant matter is able to fit in compared to the coffee grinders and I have found the blendtec to offer less dust than some coffee grinders! Its a really amazing investment. They cost about $400 and do not create the heirloom that the giant mortar and pestle would but makes for quick, simple grinding and easy cleanup! I love my blendtec!


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