Friday, 30 July 2010


The blackberries seem bigger and jucier than ever this year - despite all the dry weather we've had!

My current favourite way to eat them is with homemade yoghurt...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Small-scale foraging

I just collected at least 956544285878 poppy seeds, and in the process of doing so made a lovely arrangement of seedheads in a vase. During the activity I only found one spider, one caterpillar and one earwig (which is still on the loose somewhere in my flat)! I realised afterwards I should probably have left the seeds in their cases for a few more days to make sure they were properly dried out, but you live and learn.

I now have plans to collect Honesty seeds (more dried flower arrangements - I am turning into my mother! But that's OK) and Himalayan Balsam. I want to get experimental with my biscuit and bread making! :)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Linden tea

These are the flowers of the Lime tree, gathered a few weeks ago when they first came into bloom. I'm not referring to the citrus Lime, but the unrelated Common Lime (Linden) which is frequently planted in parks and public spaces here in the UK.

Coincidentally, my resulting Linden and sticky greenfly tea tasted quite similar to the Gorse flower and small beetle tea that I made back in March! :)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Holiday foraging

Last week I went on a lovely camping holiday to North Norfolk. Whilst exploring the beautiful countryside, seashore and salt marshes I found lots of interesting edible wild plants. The marshes in particular are a fascinating and unique environment. Here are a few photos...

Wild Celery

I didn't eat any, but I did crush the leaf and give it a good sniff to be sure. Unmistakeable!
(This, by the way, isn't celery!)

Fool's Watercress / Pie-cress?

This one I'm less certain of. I don't think it's true watercress, and I can't find anything else that it looks like. Aparently, if my ID is correct, it's also edible (even though the name seems to suggest otherwise!).
[edit] Miles Irving lists this as edible, but according to Ray Mears and Gordon Hillman it's poisonous! I don't think I'll be trying it...

Sea Purslane

The marshes were covered in this! I'd seen it before but never tried it. The leaves are juicy and salty. It's a member of the Goosefoot family (the same as Fat Hen, which I often collect from my allotment to use as Spinach).

Marsh Samphire

Again, I'd seen this before but not tried it. This time I collected a small basketful and cooked it by briefly boiling in (unsalted) water. Apart from the fact that it has "bones" (must be a nightmare to eat with fish!) it's very good indeed. Succulent and not too salty after cooking. The tips are nice and crunchy to nibble raw as well. I noticed it was being sold in local shops - apparently it's a delicacy.

Apart from these I also spotted Bladder Campion, Sea Beet, Sea Holly, Sea Lettuce, Alexanders and various unidentified Apiaceae, including what I think was a mass of angelica (the garden type, not the common wild angelica). There were also some amazing gigantic silvery thistles which looked a little like Artichokes - they may or may not have been edible but I wish I'd taken a photograph!

Allotment update!

Sorry I've not been posting much - really busy!

I recently got back from a 5 day holiday and was expecting to find the allotment either swamped in weeds or completely dried-out and dead. In actual fact, not much has changed. This extremely hot weather must be slowing things down.

Before I left I picked my first few tiny courgettes. When I returned I picked my first huge one! So I'm now making my first loaf of courgette bread :)

Every time I visit the plot I get a little handful of juicy alpine strawberries. I never take any home with me, they're essential for thirst-quenching after a hot bike ride!

Yesterday I picked my first blackcurrants. Last year I only got a handful because the bushes were very young. This year I'm hoping for enough to make a bit of jam...

Apart from strawberries, courgettes and blackcurrants, so far this year I've harvested lettuce/salads, peas, broad beans and various herbs. And lots of weeds (I think I am genuinely more interested in the weeds and the self-seeders than the crops I've actually planted)! Oh and millions of angelica seeds! Does anyone know what I can do with them? I'm hoping they can be used in breads and cakes etc.

Other things I'm growing right now include potatoes (no blight yet!), beetroot, rhubarb (third attempt, this time from seed, last plant just hanging in there!), sunflowers, jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes (from seed, exciting!), carrots and onions (both doing very badly), runner beans, various trees (the fruit of which amounts to a grand total of 3 plums), and my favourite herbs lavender and mint. I have all sorts of plans for the plot, including a sort-of mini forest garden with a lot more perennials and self-seeders. I like my gardening to be as lazy as possible! ;)