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Sustainable foraging

 
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Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10743

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 05 8:06 am    Post subject: Sustainable foraging  Reply with quote    

Thinking of Mat S's comment in the St George's thread, that he needs to find a new source of St George's because he doesn't want to clear out his original patch, I wondered what the guidelines are on sustaining your patch?

I've had conflicting advice on this:

Some say it doesn't matter if you pick mushrooms, as the mycelium (?) is the "plant" and the mushrooms are just the "fruit" so it's like picking apples (and carry them in a basket or open weave bag and you distribute the spores, fulfilling the organism's plot anyway!).

Some say pick no more than half/two thirds/other random amount.

Some say as long as there are some mature specimens (ie ready to/have spread spores) it's fine.

Then with foraging for other things...fruit, well, you would want to leave some behind for the birds and insects? Greens...perennials won't stand many pickings in one season...flowers, you need to leave enough for the plant to fruit...but what if the plant is a "weed"..or wildflower...does it matter so much?

In short, how do you decide what's the "right" amount to take, when not to take at all, and what are the variations with different types of foraging?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 05 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It's tricky.

A good place to start is:

http://www.bms.ac.uk/Code.html

And my own advice is here:

http://forum.downsizer.net/about91.html

The only thing I'd add to that is that you must do no harm. If you find something, make sure you leave some, ideally leave plenty. While picking mushrooms from a site, for example, will do little harm to the organism (it's like picking apples from a tree), remember that a whole load of other things depend on those mushrooms, and that if you take them all away you'll do harm.

If something is locally common, I allow myself to pick some. If it's locally rare, I don't. Reminds me of some Volvariella bombycina I found back in summer '01; I'd have loved to pick some to eat, but I'd never seen them before (and haven't seen them in those woods since).

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10743

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 05 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Is the open basket/bag theory an old wives' tale or does it really help any with distributing spores? Or does nobody really know?

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10743

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 05 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
remember that a whole load of other things depend on those mushrooms, and that if you take them all away you'll do harm.

If something is locally common, I allow myself to pick some. If it's locally rare, I don't.


Those seem good bits of advice.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 05 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Actually, there are a few other things to add here.

For the most part, availability of fungi is limited not by fecundity (number of spores produced from mushrooms), but by habitat; leaving a few mature specimens should be sufficient to be 'doing your bit' for the fungus, but remember that there's more to it than that. If you find, say, six giant puffballs, not only will you not be able to eat them all, but you're depriving invertebrates, hence also birds, and assorted fungi that parasitise the giant puffball (indcluding a rare and unusual Boletus) of habitat. Pick according to what you will use and what won't do harm; does ANYONE ever need more than two puffballs?

When you're picking fairy ring mushrooms (Marasmius oreades), and you're on a field covered in them, and the next field is covered, and the patk down the road is covered... Well, you won't cause any harm. If you find a field covered in blewits (Lepista) then you'll fail to pick enough to cause damage. Generally, I choose to limit myself to common species that I can't easily harm; other than that, I'd only pick something less common if it's locally abundant.

For vegetables, I pick things that are common. And ONLY things that are common. There isn't a good excuse for picking rare plants. And, frankly, there's no need. There are plenty of common ones. And I also make sure not to kill the plants (usually- garlic mustard might die back on me, but it's so very, very common where I pick it all that happens is that the smaller garlic mustard underneath it takes over). I personally don't collect roots; it's pretty damned near illegal anyway, and it just isn't worth it. If I want roots I ask the landowner.

For fruit, I like to make sure I leave plenty on the tree; usually that's easy, it's the ones I can't reach. Soft fruit lower down is also usually easy, because there are always specimens that are hard to get to, unripe when I'm there or over-ripe, etc.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 05 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:
Is the open basket/bag theory an old wives' tale or does it really help any with distributing spores? Or does nobody really know?


Open baskets do three things. Firstly, spores will be released (although how much that helps is open to question). Secondly it allows the specimens to 'breath', stopping them from going manky and sweaty. Thirdly, it allows people to stare in and go 'Oooh, what's that?'. I personally welcome that, because if people know what grows around them is useful, they start to value their green spaces more.

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