The person we bought our house from had, just a year or so beforehand, bought a small strip of land at the back of the house from the local farmer but when we arrived all that separated this grass area from the farmer's field was a very flimsy fence. In our first winter here, Simon put in more sturdy fences as this became our chicken runs and we planted a wildlife hedge. Now, almost 8 years later we have a thick hedge providing shelter for the chickens and plenty of hedgerow goodies for me to forage for.
|The hedge around Eco-Gites of Lenault|
|Rose hips I will turn into cold-busting syrup|
|Sour sloes for jelly and sloe gin|
|Elderberries for jelly, chutney and elderberry port|
In other hedges around our property and on the local footpaths I can also forage for hazelnuts, crab-apples, sweet chestnuts, acorns (for the pigs), damsons and even medlars. So it is not just the veg garden and orchard that supply us with food this autumn.
10 Foraging Tips
If you fancy heading out to forage this autumn here are 10 tips worth remembering:
1. Always ask permission form the landowner - it is only polite and the land could recently have been sprayed.
2. Pick fruit when it is perfectly ripe. Under ripe it will be sour and over-ripe it will be, at best, tasteless and at worse nasty tasting.
3. In popular dog walking areas you might not want to pick anything lower than the weeing height of a Great Dane!
4. Take a (crocked) stick with you to move branches out of the way and pull down produce that it just out of reach.
5. Never pick everything - leave some for the local wildlife and other foragers.
6. Ideally pick on a dry and sunny day.
7. Always keep an eye open for things that can be foraged later in the year - I have recently found a new path complete with a sweet chestnut tree and will be back later to see if the chestnuts are big enough to collect.
8. Make sure you know what you are picking - if in doubt, don't pick.
9. Don't pick near busy roads where the produce may be polluted and duty.
10. Process your haul as quickly as possible - sort through nuts to remove any damaged ones and process fruits into your favourite recipe. Excess can be frozen.
Have you been foraging this autumn? I'd love to hear any recipes you have for sloes as this year the blackthorn bushes are so heavy with fruit that I could pick bucket loads.
A call out for guest bloggers
I am looking for bloggers who would like to write a guest blog about what is is they love about their garden - it may be the whole thing or just one plant. More details can be found here and please do get in touch if you would like to take part. And this blog is linking up with the How Does Your Garden Grow linky over at Mammasaurus. Pop over and have a nosy round other gardens from the comfort of your own home.