Friday, April 29, 2011

Welcome Foraging Season 2011

Foraging has begun in earnest for calendar year 2011. Today on the way home from trout fishing, I stopped by a favorite sandy streamside and found a host of wild edibles.

Ostrich fern fiddleheads had only just begun to erupt, but I picked enough for a wee taste. Blunt-leaved dock was ripe for the picking, as was Japanese knotweed and wild oats.

While taking photos of the plants and munching on peeled stalks of wild oats, I mulled over one of the great ironies of springtime foraging. This is what many of us wait for all winter and even as spring draws near, it seems to remain at arm’s length. The plants that we wait so patiently for seem so very far away.

And then it happens, seemingly overnight (and perhaps it does happen overnight). Everything pops up and given the short window of opportunity for so many of the wild edible plants, the whole thing seems completely overwhelming.

Now that dandelions are coming into prime, I know that I’ll have at most, two more weeks to pick and pressure-can my next winter’s supply, a daunting task. But when Jack Frost taps on my window and snowdrifts pile up to knee height, those home-canned dandelions are mighty welcome.

Ditto for fiddleheads. And the same for all the rest. I ask myself if I need to make Japanese knotweed chutney this year…there are five or six half-pints left from last year, and it keeps for several years without the slightest problem.

So here we are at the top of the hour, so to speak. The next three weeks are critical for those who like to preserve their wild edibles. And even for those who simply relish a fresh meal of their favorite wild treats, the woods, fields, streamsides, vacant lots, fallow garden beds and wetlands call. The time has arrived to partake of nature’s free harvest. Welcome to foraging season, 2011.


  1. Hi Tom. We just met Saturday at the adult ed foraging course- I have to say thank you for opening my eyes to nature. I came home and immediately went to look for some of the plants mentioned in your dvd. I brought the book that I purchased around my yard with me. This morning my husband didnt know what was going on. I spotted a purple trillum colony that I have never noticed before and jumped for joy. I got so excited that I said "thats in the book, thats in the book!" My husband and I have tried a few different plants, and are going to try the japanese knot weed tomorrow with dinner. Thank you again :) Im very excited.

  2. Hi,

    I live in Maine, and I'm wondering if all the plants I see around that I've always thought of as "bamboo" are actually japanese knotweed. Is there a similar plant around that could be confused for japanese knotweed, or is that likely what I'm seeing everywhere?