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Jam Lady

Fill the Gap With Foraging

I was casually looking at the "How Do You Fill the Gap" thread in "Grow Your Own" forum. I don't have a vegetable garden, jest that rather than vegetables I cultivate friends with vegetable gardens. They don't have anything to share just yet but there are some ornamental plants in my mostly shady garden that I have begun to collect.

Petasites - the early flowers before they have begun to open are a Japanese sansai - healthy early vegetable. Bitter, like many early greens, so blanch before eating.

Hemerocallis (daylily) - the first shoots can be used in a kimchi-like sort of pickle.

Allium ursinium - ramps, a wonderful spring green.

And soon the ostrich fern fiddleheads will make an appearance. And hosta. And more.

What do you have / forage / find?
Mistress Rose

We have ramsons (wild garlic) Jam Lady. The young leaves are nice in a sandwich or salad, but they are a bit strong for out taste raw. I have added the leaves to a stew but they don't seem to keep their flavour. Any idea at which stage I should add the leaves just to get a mild flavour?

I believe that the leaf shoots of hog weed can be eaten, but would suggest people check that before trying them. Children used to eat the just opening leaves of hawthorn, which is starting with us now, but I have never tried it. We also have ground elder and stinging nettles which can both be eaten. The nettles are starting, so about the best time to pick them.
Tavascarow

I was thinking this way myself.
I'm picking Alexanders, Three cornered leek, navelwort, primrose & dog violet flowers.
& a staple in my house nettle tips.
Mistress Rose

We have very few violets at the moment. We found the first few on Saturday although I have been looking in some of the most likely places.
Slim

Re: Fill the Gap With Foraging

...

Allium ursinium - ramps, a wonderful spring green.

...

What do you have / forage / find?


Jam Lady, I'm guessing that what you're calling ramps are what I call ramps, which are actually Allium tricoccum. I don't know that Allium ursinium actually grows wild in the U.S.

I'm waiting for the ramps to get a bit bigger here, than I'll be scooping some out, and hopefully the morels will be showing up soon as well

Might try for some dandelion greens soon
Jam Lady

That's true, Slim. Except I planted Allium ursinium in my woods where they are happily propagating, sufficiently to harvest a few.
joanne

Re: Fill the Gap With Foraging

...

Allium ursinium - ramps, a wonderful spring green.

...

What do you have / forage / find?


Jam Lady, I'm guessing that what you're calling ramps are what I call ramps, which are actually Allium tricoccum. I don't know that Allium ursinium actually grows wild in the U.S.

I'm waiting for the ramps to get a bit bigger here, than I'll be scooping some out, and hopefully the morels will be showing up soon as well

Might try for some dandelion greens soon

What you call Ramps - Allium tricoccum , we don't have in the UK, however we call Allium ursinium - Ramsons or Wild Garlic and there is bucket loads of it out here at the moment.

We also have loads of young nettle tops and the Jack By the Hedge or Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata should be appearing very soon.

Hosta's don't really get going here until about May but I've never tried them as a veg, mint is getting going as well.
Jam Lady

Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata is a foreign exotic invasive weed. Evergreen - or should I say winter green, and young ones are already popping up. There's enough in my woods that I could make garlic mustard pesto for the entire state of New Jersey Fortunately if I pull it and lug across the street my neighbor's sheep come galloping and devour it enthusiastically. Mistress Rose

So ready seasoned lamb then Jam Lady. Laughing Slim

My grandmother used to talk about filling this gap as a child (and getting to eat greens again for the first time since fall).

The first wild green they'd get was cowslip (which means marsh marigold Caltha palustris over here).

Then they'd get into some dandelion greens.

Finally the first milkweed shoots and greens (less toxic at that point) which she remembers being "slippery" when cooked.

It's worth noting that the 1st and last on the list require somewhat careful cooking to make edible, and that all 3 are somewhat diuretic (I think). I've heard it said elsewhere that yearly consumption of diuretic greens acts as a bit of a purification and exercise for some bodily systems. Maybe that's why she's lived to 103? (so far)

I'm sure she must have also gotten her fair share of ostrich fern fiddleheads, another potentially toxic one, though that seems to be more because all ferns seem to be potentially carcinogenic and in reality folks have been eating ostrich fern fiddleheads here for centuries. Fiddleheads are still fairly widely eaten as a spring green here. They're even sold in the supermarket.
Andrea

We're having wonderful salads at the moment based on chickweed, with navelwort, sheep sorrel, mallow and dandelion and a handful of pretty blue flowers I don't know the name of. Masses of wild radish which I cook as a green or use in salad. Plantain and dead nettle too. I'm trying to expand my nettle patch so have left them alone this year so far, but later on I'll pick a few leaves and dehydrate. I dry fat hen in huge quantities for winter.

Collecting carqueja and fennel at the moment to dry for tea, later I'll add elderflower.
dpack

we have Allium triquetrum, the three cornered leek along the banks of the ouse in york ,i suspect a roman introduction but it might be a more recent skp from gardens.

there is some wild garlic as well.

among my favourite forage for early spring includes a selection of tree buds and young leaves starting with the pines and moving onto hawthorn ,beech,lime etc etc .
they need to be buds or very young as they develop protective tannins, resins, toxins etc quite soon after bud burst.

a good one to grow for the gap is cardoons as the peeled stems are rather nice,when i have had the space i have used cloches and raw manure under the growing media to give a warm microclimate for a variety of super early or rather late stuff .i recon temp is far more of a problem than the amount of light for many leafy things and a few extra degrees with a very low risk of freezing gives a four season salad bowl if you chose the hardier varieties.

for the truly chilly one might survive on lichen if you process it properly but starvation and freezing to death is better than eating the stuff Rolling Eyes
Slim

...i recon temp is far more of a problem than the amount of light for many leafy things and a few extra degrees with a very low risk of freezing gives a four season salad bowl if you chose the hardier varieties....

Careful with that if you're concerned about nitrate levels in your foodstuffs
dpack

...i recon temp is far more of a problem than the amount of light for many leafy things and a few extra degrees with a very low risk of freezing gives a four season salad bowl if you chose the hardier varieties....

Careful with that if you're concerned about nitrate levels in your foodstuffs

the manure goes in a deep trench ,the salad roots are in the normal soil above it so they feed as usual.if planted strait into manure they could be a bit nitratey if the roots survived.the manure is to provide a bit of extra warmth as it rots.i spose if one was very worried the manure could be separated from the grow media by a sheet of plastic which could be pulled out later.
Slim

...i recon temp is far more of a problem than the amount of light for many leafy things and a few extra degrees with a very low risk of freezing gives a four season salad bowl if you chose the hardier varieties....

Careful with that if you're concerned about nitrate levels in your foodstuffs

the manure goes in a deep trench ,the salad roots are in the normal soil above it so they feed as usual.if planted strait into manure they could be a bit nitratey if the roots survived.the manure is to provide a bit of extra warmth as it rots.i spose if one was very worried the manure could be separated from the grow media by a sheet of plastic which could be pulled out later.

It's less about N supply, and more about lack of light. In deep winter with short days there isn't enough photosynthate (non-structural carbohydrates) being produced for the plant to regulate it's osmotic pressures the way it wants to. (especially with temperature stresses) so it shuts down nitrate assimilation, and keeps nitrates around for osmotic regulation. (also there's less solar energy to power the nitrate assimilation and provide carbon for the nitrogen to be paired with)
dpack

...i recon temp is far more of a problem than the amount of light for many leafy things and a few extra degrees with a very low risk of freezing gives a four season salad bowl if you chose the hardier varieties....

Careful with that if you're concerned about nitrate levels in your foodstuffs

the manure goes in a deep trench ,the salad roots are in the normal soil above it so they feed as usual.if planted strait into manure they could be a bit nitratey if the roots survived.the manure is to provide a bit of extra warmth as it rots.i spose if one was very worried the manure could be separated from the grow media by a sheet of plastic which could be pulled out later.

It's less about N supply, and more about lack of light. In deep winter with short days there isn't enough photosynthate (non-structural carbohydrates) being produced for the plant to regulate it's osmotic pressures the way it wants to. (especially with temperature stresses) so it shuts down nitrate assimilation, and keeps nitrates around for osmotic regulation. (also there's less solar energy to power the nitrate assimilation and provide carbon for the nitrogen to be paired with)

interesting,i wonder if that applies to winter forage of leafy greenstuffs ?i suspect tree leaves are powered by stored carbs and until bud burst and are less of a problem than overwintering stuff or very early sprouters.

im beginning to wonder about nitrate levels in sap as well.

i spose if one is reliant on home grown or forage the extra nitrate is less of a worry than a lack of vit c but it is worth considering as a potential problem .
Mistress Rose

As far as sap and young leaves are concerned, people have been using those as food and drink for hundreds or thousands of years and survived. I know they tended to die younger, but not usually of cancer which is what you would expect from high nitrates.
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