Spring Foraging | Spring is a time for rebirth. Spring Foraging is an invitation to step outside and enjoy the sun and longer days.
The rapid transition from winter to spring occurs quickly. This is the core truth in the expression “spring has sprung”. One day you might be shoveling snow, and the next you see a skunk in the snow.
The transformation taking place in the plant world is from winter storage, dormancy, to spring growth. Spring is a great time to go outside and forage.
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These are some tips and tricks to help you and the plant world stay safe before you set out on your spring foraging adventure.
- Correctly identify the plant. Always be 100% sure of the plant’s identification before you harvest and consume. It is important to be able to identify poisonous plants with 100% certainty. Attention to the old saying “Pay attention to the old adage.” “when in doubt, throw it out”. There are many great book IDs that can be found on the market, which cover all geographical regions. Foraging classes are another option that can help you learn more about your local plants.
- For any plant you harvest, practice sustainable harvesting. Don’t take more than you need. Leave enough for your plants to thrive and survive. Foraging shouldn’t be done to harm the survival of the plant species unless it is an attempt to eradicate an invasive species. Learn about the invasive plants in your area. Also, learn about endangered plants that should not be harvested. You should only forage in clean areas that have not been chemically treated. Avoid foraging near roadsides or under power lines.
- Harvest underground storage organs; bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, etc. You should take extra care as harvesting could kill the plant. Early spring and late fall are the best times to harvest underground storage organs as the plant’s energy is conserved below ground. Late spring and summer are the best times to harvest underground storage organs. The plant will redirect its energy to above ground growth and the production of seeds and flowers. Some examples of abundant spring roots to forage include chicory and dandelion.
- For spring foraging, leafy greens are a must-have. These fresh foods are available well before the gardens begin producing. Most areas have a wide variety of leafy greens. Dandelion, chickweed, lamb’s quarter, garlic mustard, and violet are all commonly foraged greens. Do some research to find which greens are best eaten raw and which taste best steamed or sautéed.
Foraging is a great way to get outside and use your garden tools and rubber boots. Foraging is a free activity that can add fresh flavor to your next meal.
Enjoy spring foraging, summer is around the corner!
Sarah Bacon – writer, blogger, herbalist, and lover of all things outdoors