Friday, 27 August 2010

Get Out and Forage: An Allotment Story

There are very few things in life that are better than free food and if you know where to look you will find that it’s right on your doorstep! 

I’m lucky enough to have been granted an allotment plot this year, which allows me to grow a lot of produce and expand my gardening horizons, but what makes this acquisition even better is that it’s surrounded by a productive but rather boggy woodland, which has a lot to offer.   I’m planning to take full advantage of this great resource as much as I can and I’m sure the autumn months will allow me to cook up some great treats and several alcoholic delights.  

After feeding the chickens, oh did I forget to mention that I now have three beautiful girls?  They’re yet to be named but I can tell you that I chose a beautiful Cotswold Legbar, which escaped on day one; not to worry she’s back now after spending the night in a tree, a Copper Marans cross (the boss) and a very friendly Speckledy hen.  They are all point of lay (P.O.L) hens and I’m hopeful that they are coming in to their egg-laying phase. I will update on progress and post when the first egg arrives.  They seem to be settling in really well and have brought me that step closer to having my own small holding.  Okay, so I’m a fair distance off but I will get there eventually.  

Anyway, back to the foraging thing.  I fed the chooks and on the way out I collected some wonderful free food.  In the pouring rain and in true allotment style (I’m slowly getting used to that!) I used my ingenuity and recycling skill to conjure up some sort of receptacle.  The result, you may see, is in the image above.  Yes, that’s right it’s a dog poo bag.  I find that they pop up in the strangest places and they have so many uses.  Anyway, I collected what I thought was rather exciting and headed home.  The following dialogue ensued:

Me: I’m back!

(I run upstairs and present the bag)

OH: What is it? (Half asleep)

Me: Guess! (At this point I’m rather excited)

OH: Well don’t open it on the bed.

Me: Okay.  What do you think it is?

OH: A hedgehog?

Me: What?!

Okay, I have no idea what goes on in that head and it didn’t go exactly as I wished; I’m also not entirely sure what it says about me?  But one thing I do know, however, is that we can safely say that guess was wrong.  It wouldn’t have been too far away from the correct guess in my younger years when I would regularly come home with pots of leeches, stray dogs, cans of spiders and pets that horrified my mother, including several snakes, stick insects that later inhabited our airing cupboard and numerous pet frogs.  But no, it was not a hedge pig.  It was in fact a lovely, full bag of glistening plump Blackberries.
A bit of an anticlimax really compared to the anticipated hedgehog but in my experience they don’t really fit well in to a crumble.  

Does anyone have any great Blackberry recipes?  What other fruits and foods do you forage for?


  1. Ryan, those are lovely berries, but I can understand your spouse's reluctance (that bag!) We usually pick blackberries along the paths in our local parks, but this year they're all dried up because of our long, rain-free summer. usually make jam and pancake syrup from the berries, as they're so sweet.

  2. I think foraging is great! We have some sloes ner us that will be ready soon & the blackberries to. I'm also keeping my eye on some hips that I will pick as well.


  3. Oohh what lovely treasure :-) You can make fab crumbles with blackberries and also wine :-) oohh I do love to find free fruit, lucky it wasn't a hedgehog otherwise you would have had loads of fleas in your bed - eek.

  4. What a fun topic: foraging! Thanks for sharing yours. Blackberries SO good for you 2.

  5. Ryan, fab post, very interested to hear re chicks, must have been scary to have one escape so soon!
    Can eggs and blackberries be combined?
    Best Wishes

  6. Thanks for all the comments!

    Lynne: Do you have a recipe for the syrup? Sounds great!

    Mary: I think a good hedgerow jelly is in order here too and I need a good supply of rosehips.

    Scented Sweetpeas: We had apple and blackberry crumble in the end as a neighbour was giving away apples from their tree also. Gorgeous!

    Robert: It was ridiculous. No sooner had I put them in to their new home but one made a quick dash over my head and out in to the wood. She's safe and well now though. I will work hard to combine the two!

    If anyone has any good recipes please forward them on :)

  7. Hahaha...the berries look great, even if the presentation was a little "suspect". We have tons of wild Himalayan Blackberries growing all over...they are a horribly noxious weed, but that doesn't mean we dont' stop and pick them now and again...they taste great, weed or not!


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