Monday, March 08, 2010

Foraging: Thoughts on a Monday

This talk about the people on the market who sell their foraged wild herbs got me thinking this weekend. It was cold up there and the ground is still frozen solid. I spent some cozy time indoors with a piece of tracing paper over a map of the land, dreaming about what we might try to accomplish this year in the garden. Last year we simply cleared the field by hand and spread mixed wild flower seed, and it was very nice. We also randomly planted some vegetables around here and there, and we were rewarded with some very nice zucchini, potatoes and beans.

While I am thinking about dried herbs and seeds and the ones I loved the most as I replenish my spice drawer, I realize that it's the wild ones that get me so excited at the market here in the city. One very useful task this summer will be to learn to see more wild herbs and edible plants all around us on country walks and out in the field outside the kitchen door. I often catch sight of old women out on steady and slow early morning walks in the hills when it is warm out, carrying small baskets. This I suppose is the bucolic image that causes the tourists to come and clear everything from sides of the well worn hiking trails. But in the little homey places away from the stations, the farmland and grazing paths, where we can walk all day barely seeing anybody, it can't hurt to cut a sprig here or there.

Foraging anything takes a bit of method in thoughtfulness. For example, when out picking herbs, have the sense enough to use a field knife and cut them, leaving the base in tact. Leave the roots, and cut only what you need. There's no need to rip any plant whole from the ground, effectively exterminating it. Give it a chance to grow back. Last year I did transplant some wild strawberries that spread and grew from their little sheltered spot under the cherry tree. But I was careful about it, and did it with respect for the path I was walking on. Mindful of my intention to nurture this plant as a special project, I took the whole plant from a place where thousands more were growing.

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2 Comments:

Blogger racheld said...

Lucy,

You've totally captured the foraging ways of us old ladies the world over, including the South of my raising---there's a Spring surge in the blood to go out to the byways to that blackberry bramble, and to the green spots which bespeak Sweet Sessly, Dandelion Greens and Poke Sallet.

6:05 PM, March 08, 2010  
Anonymous Gosia said...

Beautiful post. I'm a queen of foraging - in a non-destructive way, that is. Wild strawberries are the things I adore. I've recently foraged a lily-of-the-valley.

3:24 AM, March 16, 2010  

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