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burdock

Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
interesting blog post about burdock:

http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2010/11/harvest-meal-kinpira-gobo.html

The post, if it were the whole thread, might belong more in the "cooking" forum, but what interested me were the photos of the roots, and commentary on them:

Gobo is reputed to be anticarcinogenic and an excellent tonic plant for the liver, and it's also supposed to make you strong.  The joke is that you don't get strong by eating gobo; you get strong from trying to prize the suckers out of the ground.  Gobo roots will grow up to a yard long if given the right soil conditions.  Euell Gibbons recommended against even attempting a frontal assault on the wild variety.  It's pointless to try to dig the root out directly.  Instead, dig as deep a hole as possible alongside the root, then pull the root into the hole and cut it as low as you can.  Like I said, our gobo was planted in extremely well worked earth, amended with a lot of compost.  And it still felt like earning my dinner to harvest these roots.  Every single time I dug for a gobo root, I left part of it in the ground.


This makes radishes seem like a much less effective way to till soil. A yard deep?!

It would be great if the clay soil I typically encounter could be loosened and imbued with organic matter a yard deep. That would make our six rainless months much less of an issue. It might be interesting to dig a deep post hole, fill with compostable material over the winter, and plant a ring of burdock around it in the spring. Soil could drain toward this central hole, especially as earthworms worked on it. The lack of support for the walls of the hole would also give the roots more room to expand. The worm-worked soil would then be relatively easy to dig through (following Euell Gibbons' method) at harvest time, and a second round of soil amendment could be added to the resulting (larger) hole for a subsequent year's crop, perhaps something like a three sisters mound.

I saw burdock mentioned in discussions of Masanobu Fukuoka, but couldn't visualize its function until I saw photos of the actual roots.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I have tried to grow it but it didn't do well for me.  It probably prefers the cool, moist climate of Japan. 


Idle dreamer

Brennan Anstey


Joined: Nov 19, 2010
Posts: 1
Location: Vancouver, Canada
It grows all over around here (Vancouver, Canada) on in disturbed soils - two plant books I have say it was originally from Europe. I've seen it growing in sidewalk cracks in my neighbourhood, as well as alongside forest trails.

Has a nice, rich, earthy/woody flavour. I ate it today in a beet soup (from a local farmer). I wild harvested some earlier this year that I dried and used for tea. Something about the unique flavour really attracts me to this plant.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 3951
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
130
Burdock used to grow all over the place in wild, unkempt places in Wales.  I seem to remember spending chunks of my childhood attempting to remove all the sticky, velcro-like burrs off my clothes if I'd been exploring somewhere I shouldn't and got myself covered in them. 

Also, dandelion-and-burdock is *still* sold (or it was till recently - not been back to the UK for a few years now) as an old fashioned fizzy drink with a unique and 'earthy' flavour. 


What is a Mother Tree ?
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    2
Burdock is prolific around here, especially in horse manure and horse paddocks. It's come up in moderate numbers in my garden this year (our first year here) and I'm happy to let some go to seed. Some chef's are into it at the beginning and end of the season and I can get about 6-8 bucks per pound.


http://www.greenshireecofarms.com
Zone 5a in Central Ontario, Canada
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 893
    
  17
Two ways I find to pull out burdock:

1) Backhoe

2) Pigs

Pigs are more effective as they enjoy doing it, eat the roots, stems and leaves and they have time. Saves me to do other things.

We have no burdock in our pastures as a result. We used to when we just had sheep. Bit of a bother. Never roll a sheep in burdock!

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    2
If you don't have pigs or a back hoe, and want to get rid of burdock or at least keep it under control; Don't bother digging up the plants, its too much work IMO. Simply cut the second year flower stalks to the ground when their flowers have bloomed. At this stage, most of the plants life force energy is in the stem and flowers,  so cutting it leaves a root system that doesn't generally have enough life or time in the year to pop up another batch of flowers.

It may take a few years because there'll be dormant seeds in your soil from previous flowerings but over time you should see a reduction in the amount of burdock in your area.

This also works well with thistle.

Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 893
    
  17
Yes, that is what we did for years before we had pigs. We still do that outside the paddocks with both thistles and burdock. It works. Pigs are best as in easiest. I would love to close the road and let them graze the edges. We only get a car an hour... hmm...

Kerrick McCoy


Joined: Dec 01, 2009
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
Burra, Fentiman's is still making the dandelion and burdock soda; one can get it as an import at a few upscale grocers in the US. I love it, even though it's far sweeter than I'd like to have regularly, being made with glucose syrup. I'd like to try making it myself with honey or molasses, or as a water kefir.
travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
Burdock has the best name. Burdock.
Kirk Hutchison


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
A YARD? That is madness! No wonder it is good for you, it must be the king of the dynamic accumulators.


Paleo Gardener Blog
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    2
I've never  been able to harvest more than 2 feet of the root. It breaks off at about that point. I suppose I could double dig to get further down but that wouldn't be time, or cost effective, and I'd feel bad about causing so much disturbance in the soil. Though the burdock might like that, all things considered.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Travis Philp wrote:
I've never  been able to harvest more than 2 feet of the root. It breaks off at about that point. I suppose I could double dig to get further down but that wouldn't be time, or cost effective, and I'd feel bad about causing so much disturbance in the soil. Though the burdock might like that, all things considered.


That was my understanding from what I've read. Thanks for confirming it from your experience!

I think it is tough to work organic matter deeper than two feet or so: it might not be worth the effort of adding, but it's definitely not worth the effort of removing. The top portion of the burdock root would, then, feed me, and the bottom portion would feed the soil.
Feral Hatfield


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
I wonder if it could be grown in a raised bed situation--filled with loose soil/compost. Remove one side of the bed at harvest time.... just brainstorming.

Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    2
Joel; no problemo. Usually burdock is found in large numbers where it grows, so there isn't a need to get so much of each root. And yeah, I feel good about leaving some of the root intact. That way I'm not being a total thief.

Feral; I've harvested burdock from a sheet mulch-raised bed in a sandy soil and it came out without a shovel! Couldn't believe it...
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
We grew a few patches of these this year and they did really well.  I left some to go to seed, cause I'm into seed saving AND  I read somewhere that the seeds are the most strongly medicinal part of the plant?  Can anyone clarify that? 

They are kind of a pain to harvest, but I think planting them in an area where you intend to have disturbed soil in the fall can work.  We immediately planted garlic where the burdock had been, and mulched the now-garlic-bed with the burdock leaves. 

I pickled the burdock roots in brine, along with some wild yellow dock roots that came along during the big dig.  They are lovely in frittatas and stirfries, for sure. 
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I looked up burdock here:

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/burdoc87.html

It seems medical preparations that call for "seeds" actually use the dried fruit. It seems like a similar situation to beets or black medic: it's not worth getting the seeds out of the fruit, so we think of the whole multi-seed package as a single "seed".

It makes sense that the plant would send tannins and such into the fruit: the stored materials in the root are all tending to flow up the stem in the second year to drive the production of seeds, for one thing, so medicinal substances might get caught up in that flow as the root shrinks. Separately, since the fruit is a burr, animals might tend to bite them out of their fur, so it might be that the plant has been selected for bitterness or some other effect to encourage spitting versus swallowing.
hobbssamuelj Hatfield


Joined: Oct 15, 2010
Posts: 95
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
Feral wrote:
I wonder if it could be grown in a raised bed situation--filled with loose soil/compost. Remove one side of the bed at harvest time.... just brainstorming.




or in poly-bags like potatoes?
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
hobbssamuelj wrote:
or in poly-bags like potatoes?


I think they prefer to send roots down deeper than would be practical for poly bags, but it would be worth a try.
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame


Joined: May 23, 2010
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
    
    3
Ate some kinpira gobo at our local Japanese restaurant today.  It is also a standard in our home, as my wife is Japanese and schooled in macrobiotic cooking.  Gobo is also used in soups & stews, and sometimes tempura fried.  Great stuff.  

I have made kinpira with wildcrafted burdock up in Massachusetts.  Taste was fine, but much more fibrous than the cultivated varieties found in Japan (or Japanese markets).  I assume it is a combination of breeding and cultivation methods that allows them to get yard-long nearly perfectly conical taproots.  Japanese farmers tend to have very fine cultivated soils, looking as though they have been put through a screen.  Organic farmers, at least, use a lot of rice bran for organic matter, and have meticulously removed rocks & pebbles over hundreds of years.  Japanese consumers like perfectly shaped geometrical vegetables, and perfectionistic farmers meet their demand for the most part.  The national pastime of over-packaging stuff extends even to organic vegetables.  You can find perfectly conical organic carrots, beautiful greens included, individually wrapped in cellophane for sale at a farmer's market.  
Elfriede B


Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Posts: 106
Good to know it is edible.  I hope the one that volunteered in my garden last year will come back.
Burdock is a very important medicinal plant for the Amish. It is used in the treatment of burns,  severe burns, and wound treatment.  The application of a burdock leave takes away the pain.  Amish will  treat their own when they have burns,  I know of one child that was kept comfortable and healed with hardly any scarring, no skin grafts or the like.  They make a salve to go with  it.  My Amish friend cut himself on the band saw and his wife just put a burdock leave on it and it kept him pain free and it healed quick.  To have the leaves available in winter, dry them whole, then if you  need one, soak it in water and apply.  Boil the water first of course.
Chefmom Hatfield


Joined: Mar 28, 2011
Posts: 62
Location: Western Pennsylvania
I had a really bad eczema on my hand that I suffered with for years.  It is one of the reasons I started reading about herbal remedies in the first place!!!  I use burdock in my treatment with calendula, comfrey, plaintain and yarrow.  In the spring I gather the young leaves and infuse in olive oil, then make a simple salve with beeswax.  In the beginning I would just mash the leaves and rub the juice on the sore areas directly and it helped with the stinging pain and itching.

Where I used to live should be called "Burdock Place", it is overrun with the stuff!!  I have NONE here.  My soil here is a work in progress, has a lot of pine trees and not so much organic matter in the soil.  And it is on the dry side.  There the soil is heavy in organic matter and VERY moist, the areas with the most burdock are more constantly moist, so I think it prefers the higher organic matter and moisture to grow in the wild etc. 

I am now two years eczema free!!  I have found many uses for straight comfrey and I use all those oils for different skin problems, burns, cuts, etc with great results.  Even if you only make some oil to keep in the cabinet and use the straight oil it is worth keeping on hand for everyday use. 

My son was with a friend who had poison ivy starting to itch and he was able to identify jewelweed when they were riding the ATV's and helped his friend.  It's good stuff to know.

Tami 


Always put your eggs in one basket.........why would you carry two?
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
i have one large burdock that grows by the trunk base of an old standard apple tree, I'm sure it helps the tree..we have others growing in the fields too


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
kazron McCoy


Joined: Mar 25, 2011
Posts: 107
maybe not as lofty as the previous suggestions... burdock makes a great "toilet paper" (edit: if you're using a composting toilet!)!  i used nothing else (with one exception I believe) for a period of three months last year.

Thank you to the above poster about how to preserve leaves, that may help me move away from toilet paper in the winter time too!
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 893
    
  17
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:roots will grow up to a yard long if given the right soil conditions.


Uhm... They get a lot longer than that. I have pulled out 6' of root off a burdock that was about 5' tall. There was more root down below that but it snapped off. I used my backhoe to pull it.

For eliminating burdock from a field pigs are the best. They love the tops. They love the bottoms. Burdock balls don't stick to them (or at least slide off).

Why eliminate burdock? You'll understand if you ever have sheep get into a patch of old dead burdock. The wool is ruined.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
pubwvj wrote:
Uhm... They get a lot longer than that. I have pulled out 6' of root off a burdock that was about 5' tall. There was more root down below that but it snapped off. I used my backhoe to pull it.

For eliminating burdock from a field pigs are the best. They love the tops. They love the bottoms. Burdock balls don't stick to them (or at least slide off).

Why eliminate burdock? You'll understand if you ever have sheep get into a patch of old dead burdock. The wool is ruined.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa


Incredible.


.
 
 
subject: burdock
 
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