Updated: Apr 13
Me and foraging are going on a break.
This year has been incredible for foraging and natures harvests, as well as incredible harvests in our garden! Here's a list of everything we've harvested this year, "wild" indicating those that we have foraged locally instead of growing.
- Stinging nettles for tea and fresh
- 3 types of wild mint for tea and fresh
- Wild Elderflowers for elderflower bubbly and cordial
- So much rocket we were glad the crop finished
- Rainbow Chard
- Fine beans
- Runner beans
- Wild Camomile for Tea
- Wild Sorrel
- Kilos of wild hazelnuts (it was an incredible year!)
- Wild Elderberries
- Kilos of blackberries
- Wild sloes (although this was a failure this year!) - Quinces for quince jelly
- 10 kilos wild chestnuts, 2 kg gifted on to those without the resources to collect themselves.
- Many mushrooms!
- Brussel Sprouts
- Kilos of raspberries
- Wild rosehips
- "Wild" apples.
- HONEY!!! Including rescuing a swarm.
All of this food has been free and organically grown.
Last Sunday we had our own little harvest festival made up of 90% of homegrown foraged ingredients (washed down with local wine) and reflected on the incredible year we've had, and the work that has gone into making a decision to grow and forage as much as we can.
So have we grown and foraged as much as we can?
YES! Of course, our diets are not 100% our own. I would love to be 100% self sufficient, but the system we live in makes it very very hard to actually do that. We will of course move more and more towards that. Growing 100% of your own food is INCREDIBLY time intense. One of the best ways to increase this is to preserve well! Making sure the absolute best is made of crops is the best way to ensure that the effort we do put in for food stretches as far as possible. This also helps ensure that we rely LESS on imported foods out of season.
I have learnt SO much this year. Much has been an experiment, with some real successes and others being failures. Next year we'll grow from this. I'll do more with some things and less with others.
- Elderflower Champagne was both successful- thoroughly delicious and for the end of the batch a cataphoric fail!
- Veggie patch in general
Could have done better:
- Butternut plants
Planning out the year is incredibly important and I'll be writing down and plotting times properly on when to make the most of certain harvests.
Food we have grown TASTES better, SMELLS better (carrots are the biggest difference) and is better for us and planet. We have spent about 6 months consistently growing, maintaining, harvesting, prepping, cooking ,freezing, preserving as much as we possibly can! Even then, realistically we've barely dented our food requirements.
My favourite from this season has been the Rainbow Chard and chestnuts. Lee's favourite this year was the elderflower fizz (I'll always remember the absolute euphoria of tasting our first bottle and it was delicious- much to the surprise of Lee!! Also, one of the bottles burst!)
Wish lists for the future include:
- Chickens for eggs and consuming our food scraps,
- More fruit trees, not just for their fruit but shade and flowers :)
- More freezer space and resources (silicone bags)
- More planters for directly outside our home
- A better understanding of wild food sources.
In April, we mindfully began our "busier" harvesting period, utilising the start of bounties- fully acknowledging the ebb and flow of the seasons. At our Harvest Festival I decided the time has come to follow suit of the season and retract and rest. For the next little while we will be doing considerably less foraging- to match the seasons and retract when they do. I absolutely adore this process but it does take time, in planning and execution. There is also a certain amount of "oh oh oh I want to make sure I collect enough ** whilst they're in season" kind of anxiety. Of course foraging is more enjoyable in the warmer months- unless it's a sunny winters day (my favourite). But just like the natural flow of the harvest- we too are beginning the rest. And that feels absolutely incredible. It feels so empowering that we really did utilise the seasons and what was given to us. Our freezer is full! Of course I will always wish we had more saved, with the dream being self sufficiency. We will undoubtedly be reliant on the supermarkets this winter- unfortunately. Next winter I'd like to improve our stocks going into winter.
I am so grateful for this year of harvests, learning and consuming delicious local food!! I am now grateful for a period of enjoying some of those stocks and resting. I'd love to know what you foraged and grew this year! I've attached a very short selection of photos from the harvest from the past few months. Sending love!