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Posts Tagged ‘foraging hedgerows’

If you have been reading my previous blogs you will know that I love Autumn especially getting out for a walk and collecting leaves, seeds, nuts and fruits I simply can’t resist it. The fruits such as Blackberries and Apples can be cooked to enjoy now in Pies and Crumbles or made into jams, chutneys and preserves to savour over the next few months, the seeds and nuts can be planted and will produce new flowers/wildflowers for your garden or a new generation of trees, all that remains are the stunning colourful leaves and the seed/nut cases.

You can have lots of fun with leaves and when you have finished they can be turned into valuable leaf mould for your garden, for lots of ideas for your wonderful leaves click here. This year the Beech has produced a bumper crop of seeds (which are often called Beechnuts or Beechmasts) and as I have quite a lot of the Beech seed cases I got thinking … they are very dry, hard and often spikey just like the prickles of a Hedgehog, so why not ….

Beech Seed Case Hedgehog

Make a Hedgehog from Beech Seed Cases

What you will need

  • Dry Beech Seed Cases
  • Potatoes
  • A Cocktail Stick
  • Sticky Tack or Glue
  • Conkers
  • Black felt tip pen

What you need to do

  1. Choose a potato preferably with a flat side (to stop it rolling around) this will be the bottom.
  2. Leave one end of the potato bare for the face then make holes with your cocktail stick in rows along the back and sides inserting beech seed cases by their stalks until you have covered your potato.
  3. Draw or stick on some eyes then add the conker nose securing it in place with Sticky Tack or Glue

If you have plenty of materials why not make a Hedgehog family and arrange them on a tray/lid with some of your leaves.

Hedgehogs are busy at the moment looking for a safe place to hibernate and eating plenty of food to build them up for the winter months, why not have a go at the new free Gardening with Children Family Competition or School Competition for a chance to win a Hogitat Hedgehog House, a Field guide to Hedgehogs and some Hedgehog Food for the Hedgehogs in your garden.

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

The Hogitat Hedgehog House – a perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

Have fun

Gill

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This year the weather has been perfect for growing and ripening, not only have we bumper crops in the garden and on our allotments but also in the surrounding countryside which is brilliant news for all the wildlife that rely on this natural harvest during the winter months.

Our hedgerows are simply overflowing with fruit just waiting to be picked.

Wild Blackberries

What can you find in a Hedgerow?

  • Blackberries
  • Sloe Berries
  • Crab Apples
  • Greengages
  • Rose Hips
  • Elderberries
  • Hawthorn Berries
  • Damsons

Crab Apples - church

What do you need to know before you go?

  1. Forage food only on public rights of way, if you are not sure or if you want to go off the beaten track ask the landowners permission first.
  2. Only take what you need, leave some for the birds and animals during the Autumn/Winter months.
  3. Respect the environment that you are collecting from and leave it as undisturbed as possible.
  4. Make sure that you are 100% certain that you know what you are picking, if you are not sure don’t pick it, some fruits can be similar in appearance to ones that are poisonous. Just because one part of a plant is edible it doesn’t mean that all parts are, some plants need cooking to destroy toxins e.g. cooking elderberries destroys toxins present in the raw berries, but leaves, barks or roots of elder should never be eaten.
  5. Don’t allow children to pick or eat wild food unsupervised.
  6. Avoid foraging on busy roadsides where vehicle pollution can contaminate the fruit, on industrial ground or on farmland where agricultural sprays may have been used.

What do you need?

  1. Containers for your delicious fruit – buckets/bags are ideal for larger and tougher fruit such as Crab Apples, Rose Hips, Hawthorn Berries and Damsons but smaller and softer fruits are better placed in shallower plastic containers such as butty boxes that will stop them from being squashed (Blackberries especially).
  2. Insect Spray and Bite Cream – be prepared, many insects especially wasps are just as attracted to the fruit as you are (Bite cream can often be used on Nettle stings too).
  3. A long stick with a ‘hook’ at one end – very useful for grabbing and pulling down those hard to reach branches, an umbrella would also do the job.
  4. Suitable clothing – a strong pair of shoes, long pants and a long sleeved top, some of the bushes are very prickly and care must be taken when picking their fruit (Blackberries, Sloe Berries, Hawthorn Berries, Rose Hips) Nettles are usually found in hedgerows too.

What do you do with your hedgerow harvest once you have got home?

  1. One of the first jobs is to sort through the fruit removing any that are damaged/rotten as well as any insects, leaves and stems.
  2. Most of the fruit will need a good wash, this is best done just before you use it.
  3. Decide what you are going to make with your bounty, have a look through your recipe books or on the internet, Jams, Curds and Jellies are one of the best ways to preserve fruit and they will keep well into next Spring, here are a few suggestions (click on the heading for the recipe):

My first memories of foraging – picking Blackberries with my Aunt and Uncle then coming home with bags of dripping Blackberries and purple stained clothes and fingers, marvelous!

Have fun, enjoy and love your environment

Gill

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