Friday, May 22, 2009

A fortunate find

More often than not, my foraging classes and outdoor events are blessed with fine weather and the jammiest of lucky finds. This week was no exception, my Cambridge based weekly forage group struck gold - literally - with an amazing stand of chicken of the woods (Polyporus sulphureus) fungus. Why lucky you ask? Well, it's been so dry this year that all my usual COTW haunts haven't yielded much in the way of this excellent edible mushroom, so to find enough for the four of us really felt a lot like Divine intervention!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

watering my weeds

My energy and attention this year has been largely focussed on my garden and veg patch, in part thanks to my new Garden Share partners, Anna and Adam. But as usual I've kept an eye on the wild produce which so far has been stinging nettles, dead nettles, dandelions and chickweed. More recently, sow thistles and my personal Springtime favourite, fat hen have been appearing. This year I've used industrial quantities of home-made compost, and am delighted to find a thick crop of fat hen, sow thistle and chickweed seedlings sprouting from practically every bed and flowerpot. Check out this pot of Begamot and Hyssop, top dressed with fresh compost a month ago!
In a couple of weeks, there should be enough for a really delicious fat hen feast... A similar situation is happening on the potato grow bag, where fat hen and spinach seedlings are happily soaking up the sunshine and liberal waterings until the Maris Peer spuds start comng through. At that point it'll be "off with their heads and into the pot!" - I love my weeds, but I love home grown potatoes, fresh out of the ground even more...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Foraging Observation

Last week I went over to Suffolk to check out the venue for my next event, Wild Food in a Day and to meet the organiser, Polly Robinson from Food Safari. After a leg-stretching yomp over a corner of the vast Henham Estate, to look for a suitable area for the guided forage, surprise surprise, the best site was no more than 30m from where we had parked the car! I'd forgotten this small but important Forager's Truism: many edible weeds grow in the most obvious places, and many favour recently disturbed ground - if you have a garden, look along hedges, in flower and vegetable beds or in those out of the way weedy places: fat hen, chickweed and smooth sow thistle are all sprouting nicely! A word of warning about wild food plants in very public places: your chosen foraging site should be clean and free from rubbish, away from high usage areas such as footpaths and entrance ways and obviously away from roads and vehicle pollution: those are three very good reasons for allowing weeds to grow in your own garden. :-)