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Garden Foraging?

I know it's probably just called harvesting in your own garden but do you "forage" in your own garden?

aybe you leave an area wild to get nettle for tea or soup, which is no different to growing a vegetable but it's a wild plant and outside of your garden it's called foraging.

We have wild garlic and Hazel. There's yew which we're going nowhere near despite technically if you don't break into the seed then the flesh of the fruit is edible, don't try them unless you really do know what you're doing BTW! I'm sure there's other things. I'd like a Scots pine because I like it's needle tea.

I'm curious that's all. I don't know enough to be sure the wilder areas have much else worth foraging. I'm told we have St John's wort which I understand to have proven medical benefits. Not sure about that as others have said its something else.

So any alternative gardeners who accept weeds with benefits for foraging purposes? 


  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,785
    edited September 2021
    I’m yet to be convinced about the efficacy of herbal remedies, although I will accept if you truly believe something is doing you good then it probably is beneficial. My problem is a lack of belief. Similarly, I often think if nettle soup, green tomato chutney, courgette cake etc were so delicious why don’t they feature on supermarket shelves. I have tried them all and remain underwhelmed.

    I remember last year on Gardeners’ World some chap had a field devoted to foraging produce and showed to the camera a “delicious” bowl of raggedy weeds he had picked for lunch. Yea right. Just throw on some cat kibbles and call it good. As you can gather, I won’t be eating at Noma any time soon! 

    So, @NorthernJoe, the response to your question from me is the common as muck blackberries. I have a few brambles in the garden but the harvest is much better on the footpath 50 yards away and, if the drizzle stops, I might pick some this morning.
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,509
    Hazel nuts if I can beat the squirrels to them, blackberries by the bucketload, various mushrooms including waxcaps, parasols and blewitts. Chinese flowering quince fruits (Chaenomeles cathayensis) which make a lovely quince jelly and cheese. I don't know how it got into the garden but it is 5 metres tall now and has really vicious thorns.

  • TopbirdTopbird Mid SuffolkPosts: 7,319
    edited September 2021
    I pick and use cob nuts, crab apples, sloes and blackberries growing in or around the borders of my garden. I have quite a few fungi appearing now in the lawn and wish I knew enough to know whether or not they're safe to eat😬

    I remain unconvinced about the tastiness of nettles, dandelions, chickweed, ground elder and young hawthorn leaves.

    I would use wild garlic leaves but I don't grow it. I think it can be invasive so I'll not be planting any but just hope I find the odd clump while out and about in spring.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 16,398
    edited September 2021
    Young nettles leaves in the spring from the woods, mixed into mashed potato is lovely. You can buy packets of nettle tea in my local SM. I like it. Raspberry leaves also, as tea. I like nasturtium flowers and leaves and wild garlic from local woods. Elderberries and elder flowers are good for all sorts.

    I guess making teas from 'foraged' foods is often the easiest thing. And using various flowers in salads.

    Cakes using courgette or potato or avocado can be very fine. You don't really know the veg are there, you don't add much, they just add moisture retention. I think Ben hasn't had anyone cook him a good one.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,230
    My wife has had many compliments on her courgette cake. Even my dad likes it and he finds fault with everything.
    The nettle cordial you buy from health food shops is really nice but I've never been able to recreate it at home. My cordials always taste too sugary though.
    I dream of having my own 'food forest' type garden where stuff can just find it's own place and I can harvest what I need. My blackcurrant bush here is self-seeded and I've got other fruit bushes just rambling about the place in odd corners. My parents have an acre or so which is great for foraging in and I've been adding a lot of fruit and nut trees there too. This part of the world is great for foraging anyway but having stuff in your own garden is always nice and convenient.
    Some people bring joy wherever they go. Others, whenever they go. - Mark Twain.
  • The trouble with the "raggedy old weeds" issue is about as much to do with the way supermarkets have changed the appearance and taste of what we eat/ buy from them. Then to top it all they've started selling us the stuff that didn't pass their shape or appearance test with a big markup on top.

     Then forget about what supermarkets have done to our meat especially beef. I'm not talking just about quality or animal standards. I'm talking about colour and flavour. Where they went every butchers have followed. Bright red beef that's fresh as it comes. Not aged and brown like meat was and should be. Now you have to spend a fortune to get the meat how it used to be sold,  with flavour and tender due to aging. You don't just hang game to increase flavour.

    That's not just about production issues because it's easily possible to scale up aging of beef in climate controlled facilities.

    The interesting thing is they've retrained us as a society to see anything but red beef as gone off! How many times have you thrown out brown beef because "it didn't look right/ good!" 

    Now salads must look uniform with bland,  iceberg served chilled straight out of the fridge. Sorry but that just looks sad to me. Like those pubs who sell a nice meal with the need to add a bit of limp lettuce and some slaw. The salad that ends up going back.  Possibly not for the first time! 

    BTW I've never foraged for salad. Only a few teas and infusions. Must admit to buying nettle tea as a household. I'm. More a coffee person. There's no foraging possible in the UK for a coffee replacement I reckon. Damsons,  rowan berries, blsckberries
  • Yep, though we are slowly adding deliberate perennial crops.

    Hawthorn leaves when young are nice to eat. Garlic mustard (aka Jack by the hedge) can be cooked up like spinach quite happily. Ground elder was grim, as was plantain. Blackberries of course. Lime (tilia) leaves are fine when young, so I'm planting some of that this winter. Borage flowers are quite nice, just mind the prickles. Campanula are almost all edible and what I have tried has been perfectly serviceable salad. Nasturtiums too - nice and peppery.

    We've added wild garlic, perennial kale, wild strawberries, cherry plums, honeyberries, raspberries and blackberries of various types. Already have apples, plums and pears.

    Apparently sow thistle can be cooked but I haven't tried yet.
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,528
    Brown aged beef IS gone off, that's what aging is, letting it rot to your preferred state, mine is fresh I cannot stand 21 day aged beef it tastes high and rancid to me, the same with game, I do not hang it any longer than required for it to come out of rigor.
    As to foraging in the garden as it were, I agree nettles are hairy and not particularly nice if not blended, chickweed does taste good but you need to get it young before it gets stringy. Ground elder has a very strong taste, it's not bad but it's not something you would want a plate of, use it more like a herb than a vegetable. Fat hen, now there's a good vegetable it is much nicer tasting than spinach or chard.
    I "forage" burdock roots, wood ear mushrooms, elder flowers, fat hen and crow garlic very early in the year. I'm trying to get some more mushrooms to grow I've introduced some dead horse mushrooms to an area that looks suitable, I hope they take. I do have both a yellow russula and deceiver mushrooms that are both edible in the front garden and brown roll rims which are decidedly not edible under the apple trees.
  • I have a corkscrew hazel growing in my garden. Are the cobnuts(?) edible and how do you prepare them? 
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 16,398
    Nettles are good when cooked or put into boiled water as tea.
     - -
    This is a great book for perennial food planting.

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