by Emily Cates
Part 1 of 2
Who does not love a beautiful day in Springtime? The floral-laden scent of a spring breeze uplifts and awakens the senses, while the singing birds and buzzing bees provide a beguiling resonance. Who would not enjoy these wonders of nature at such a glorious time of year? Many of us, still weary from a long winter, do appreciate it wholeheartedly. In addition to the promise of a fresh new gardening season, there is also a harvest to be had. “What? A harvest? Why, the peas have barely started growing!” “We just planted our potatoes. How could anything be ready? ”
A few familiar garden veggies, such as carrots and parsnips, can be overwintered and dug up now. Asparagus, the perennial whose crisp, succulent spears are enjoyed as they appear and grow to harvestable heights, is most likely ready to be cut at the present. In this article, though, we’ll look at lesser-known offerings that can be found in the garden or nearby, this time of year. These beloved wild edibles such as, dandelions, fiddleheads, groundnut, Jerusalem artichokes, nettles, and ramps are provided by nature and have been enjoyed by many folks for millennia. They are likely encountered as weeds in the garden or discovered as wild plants while hiking. It’s these “others” that are often overlooked, rather unjustly, as they are some of the most nutritious additions to a springtime diet.
Let’s get ready to explore! Because there is a lot of information in this article, lets do it in two parts. This time, we will look at what I’ll call “The Forager’s 10 Commandments.” Next time, we’ll go over the wild edibles mentioned above and noteworthy qualities and cooking suggestions. Be ready to be curious and maybe try something new and exciting!
Before we begin our exciting excursion into the wild world of foraged foods, I would like to share with you The Forager’s 10 Commandments. Number One, it’s important to be certain of the identification of what we’re harvesting. Bring a field guide and a Smartphone to look things up. Two, we want to forage only in areas we have permission to be in. Three, we should make sure the soil it is growing in is un-polluted (at least 30 feet away from the road or buildings that might have lead paint or any other chemical concerns). Four, let’s guarantee the continuity of what we intend to harvest and take only what we actually need, leaving enough for the plant to regenerate itself. (Of course, exceptions would be weeds like dandelion and nettles.) Five, try unfamiliar foods in small amounts for the first and second times to rule out allergies. Six, watch out for ticks and be sure to wear a hat and light-colored, long-sleeved clothing tucked into tall boots if possible. Natural bug-repellant might be on the list as well, be sure to follow directions on the container. (Do tick checks when you get home!) Seven, don’t get lost. Eight, bring something for hydration and a snack if it’s a hike. Nine, bring a friend for company if at all possible. Ten, share a meal with someone less fortunate who would appreciate what you have harvested. The unwritten rule is to have fun and enjoy nature to the fullest!