Covering the Gardening Beds With Straw… Fantastic!

Smaller Gone North Front CoverI first read about covering the garden with straw in a book by Ruth Stout. I think it was called, “Gardening the Easy Way.” Something like that. It was well written and made you feel a fool if you gardened any other way. Every year or so, I’ll throw a little straw on my garden to mulch it, especially last year with the horrible Armageddon drought we had. But I’m doing it again this year and I will continue to do it as long as my local feed store has wheat straw in stock. I ask myself, what part of it keeps the weeds down don’t you understand? And the water conservation is fantastic. That and as it breaks down it feeds the earthworms.

Yes, my garden beds are almost completely covered in bright yellow wheat straw. It looks so cheerful and it hides the weeds that I am unable to yank up. If I put enough straw on them, they will die. And if weeds do pop up out of the straw, they are really easy to pull up.CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

Life is good isn’t it? When we garden? I look forward to spending a lot of time out there this summer… lounging and watering. I hope you are enjoying yours or if you don’t have one, enjoying looking at other people’s gardens. There are a lot of them out there these days. It’s very trendy…

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

The Beginnings of a Wild Foodie…

Secret Genealogy IV CoverThere are a lot of books about Native Americans and when I wanted to learn about eating acorns, I thought sure that I could go to the library and find a book that would tell me how to do it. That was not the case. I went through countless books and the only thing I could tell was that they were using water to leach them. I did not know how long the Indians leached them, nor did I know if they kept them cool in the process. I was just a girl who loved nature and wanted to live and sustain myself within the woodlands of Northern California.

So I gathered acorns. By the pillowcase full. I totted them up the hill to my house and with a large river rock, cracked them open. Then, I put the shelled acorns in a white plastic bucket and covered them with water. I had to guess how long to leach them. They don’t leach well if they aren’t ground up and without refrigeration, they get a scum on them. I lived without electricity so I couldn’t keep them cool. I just poured the scum off and rinsed them really well. I ensued a lot of stomach aces though. Not from the scum but from the tannic acid not removed well enough.

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERWith a lot of trial and error, I finally figured out how to leach acorns. The answer is; long enough to get the tannic acid out. Each oak species has different tannic acid amounts. You have to experiment yourself. My guess is that you will need to leach them anywhere from one week to a month. The tan oak acorns I used in Mendocino County, California required only one week’s leaching. But the acorns I gather in the Sierra Foothills require three times as much leaching.

Don’t be discouraged. They’re worth the wait. Acorn dip with blue corn chips… the thought of it makes my mouth water. That’s probably the little bit of tannic acid that is retained that gives the acorns and any dishes you make with them, their distinctive flavor.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns,–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973 and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees.

Eating Wild Foods… Is it OK to Eat Sprouted Acorns?

Secret Genealogy IV CoverIt’s spring now in California and in some woodland areas, there are still acorns on the ground. After all the rains, they may begin to sprout. That’s okay. A little sprout on the acorn won’t hurt. But when the sprout starts getting longer than half-an-inch, you may want to toss it where it can grow into a tree.

Sprouted acorns have grown from a starch to a sugar state. You may notice a difference in the leaching water color. It can range from black to white, depending on the species, the freshness, and whether it is in a starch or sugar state. Just because the water is white, doesn’t mean it won’t be bitter.CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

For the record, I’ve had plenty of tan oak acorns that had sprouted well over an inch. When it gets that long, it’s growing a root. I broke it off and processed them as I did any other acorns. It was all fine.

Native Americans record burying their acorns in mud until they turned purple, and then they leached them. The acorns that I used with the long roots attached, were tan oak and they developed a bright pink on the tips. So my thinking is, the Indians were burying their acorns in mud so that they would gradually sprout, bringing them into a sugar state.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns,–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973 and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees.

America’s Multi-Ethnic Communities Are Growing

Smaller Gone North Front CoverI have lived a good portion of my life in rural communities. Diverse in personality but not so much in ethnicity. In one of the communities, there was one black family, a brother and sister (the brother was married to a white woman). They didn’t stay long and my husband and I were appalled at the stories they told. The community lost some good people when they left. But I do not blame them for leaving. Sadly, they didn’t feel safe.

My parents lived in Napa, California, an area that attracts Latinos. And in Suisun City where they had a furniture store, their neighbors were black. Spending time in both those communities was refreshing. I’ve always said that I like multi-ethnic communities, it’s what I like about the San Francisco Bay Area. Years ago, I filled my need for diversity by marrying into a large Italian family, and then later, a large Jewish family that was intermarrying.

America’s multi-ethnic neighborhoods are growing faster than ever. Today’s media personalities reflect that. I find the stories are more interesting when a station hires a diverse group of newscasters. However, some Americans are threatened by the rapid change. That’s why we have gangs and politicians whose reflexes send them backwards instead of forward. I wish they would understand that a community of many cultures is never boring. Whether it’s the annual Sikh parade, the Italian Festival or the many other events within driving distance… variety truly is the spice of life.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:



There’s A lot of Talk About Living Forever… You Can Count Me Out

CreatespaceCover The Celtic PrinceMy son sent me a link to an article about humans living forever. Immortality through technology. I have no interest in living forever. Creepy… scary… like being stuck in a submarine with no way out. I would however, enjoy living a healthy life into my 100’s. To stop the dying process would be to stop ourselves from going into the great beyond… heaven… the otherworld. Why would we want to do that? Just because we don’t know what happens after we die? What’s wrong with… surprise! You’re an elephant! Or surprise! You’re on the next level of humanity because you did so well last time?

This world is a beautiful place… most of the time… for many of us. But it’s a real hell hole for others who live in unfortunate circumstances in dangerous and inhospitable regions. Folksinger, Arlo Guthrie has a response to the statement, there’s always someone worse off than you. Arlo says, “What about that last guy…” the poor guy who is so unfortunate, no one has it worse.

I could give you the same reasons we’ve always heard. “You get so old, all of your friends are dead.” Good point, even if it is a cliche. It’s just that I spend a lot of time in nature observing that life goes around and around. Life and rebirth. When it’s my turn, why would I want to give that up? Life might be even more beautiful on the other side.  Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

The Garden of Eden Has Weeds to Pull

There it is, tall green grass, yellow buttercups, wild purple violets, songbirds… just like the Garden of Eden… until… it all dries and turns to weeds and the county threatens the neighborhood. “Cut that grass or we’ll cut it for you and send you the bill.”

Such is the life of those who live in the country. It all comes at once, the change of the seasons when everything needs to get done… now. Seeds need to be planted, soil needs turning, fences need repairing… quick, hurry, stress!

Years ago, a friend came by and I stood gazing out the window at the beauty the spring brought. “I get really stressed out about needing to get my garden started,” I told him. He was not easy on me. He rolled his eyes disgustedly and said, “What’s the point?”

My friend had it right. I moved to the country so I could let my hair down, wear two different colors of socks, grow my own food, have a horse, dogs, cats, rabbits. The Garden of Eden meets Noah’s Ark. Even if it’s a mini farm, it is a lot of work. It’s tiring just thinking about it. In the old days, the farmers had kids. My kids wanted a ride to town where they could skateboard. Good thing I have a husband, I call him, P G & Jon. (PG&E is our utility company.) There is nothing my husband can’t build or fix. “Even a broken heart,” my mother used to say.

I’ve been living like this most of my adult life. Someday, I’ll move from here because I’ll be too old to lift a shovel, or maneuver a weed eater. Until then, I’ll try not to forget that it’s paradise. I give thanks that I made it.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

The Law of Ancient Lights… Buzz Kills, Vampire Auras and Toxic Friends

Smaller Gone North Front CoverHave you ever been basking in the sun and had someone come along and put a shadow on you? It’s irritating isn’t it? Have you ever had a neighbor build a house and obstruct your view? How about the morning sun? You’re not alone. Blocking someone’s light can be a serious issue and England even has a term for it… it’s called Ancient Lights. This legality is used to protect those who came first… to the sun. The original owner of the building has the right to receive light from a window (if it has been there for twenty years). One cannot come along and interrupt that flow of light.

Not unlike the vernacular buzz killancient lights is a quick way to tell someone that they are blocking your sunlight. Another one is vampire aura. Ever hear of that? That’s when someone comes along and drains your energy. Supposedly, they have a hole in their aura that needs filling, so it’s drawing from your aura to fill it. (Not scientific but sounds good doesn’t it? It might fall into the same category as toxic friends.)

Kindness, kindness, kindness… if I have a little light to share, by all means, help yourself. If I have extra energy in my aura, you’re welcome to a little, (emphasis on little, too big a drain is ruinous). But if you’re a toxic friend, well… you’ll need to go through a dramatic transformation… life’s too short.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: