Homeschool Garden Club – Harvesting and Foraging

It is September and for everyone learning it’s a new year, but for our gardens it is harvest time and at this time of year we are harvesting from our gardens and foraging in the local area. If you are new to the Orchard Training Garden Club, then you will be starting off with the foraging.

So, what are we lucky enough to harvest – well over all the different homeschool gardens we are harvesting raspberries, apples, pears, strawberries, salads, courgettes, tomatoes, onions, beans, peas, cucumbers, beetroots, Swiss Chard and we are holding off picking the carrots as they are still too small. My pumpkins are eating ones, so I will be picking them this week. Those of you who managed to grown pumpkins for Halloween will be carefully looking after them now.

So, what are we lucky enough to harvest – well over all the different homeschool gardens we are harvesting raspberries, apples, strawberries, salads, courgettes, tomatoes, onions, beans, peas, cucumbers, beetroots, Swiss Chard and we are holding off picking the carrots as they are still too small. My pumpkins are eating ones, so I will be picking them this week. Those of you who managed to grown pumpkins for Halloween will be carefully looking after them now.

As the crops are coming out we are looking at what we can sow to fill the gaps. Some of us still have some spring onions and radish seed left over from earlier sowings. These are quick growing so you will be able to get two last crops in before winter. I am looking out for spots were to put the cauliflowers. I have cheated this year and ordered some plug plants, which is just as well as the heat a few weeks ago (35 degrees inside my house) would have killed them off - if I had been nurturing them.

Foraging is the activity of finding, gathering and harvesting wild foods – for free. It's a great way to stay active and spend time outdoors connecting with nature and learn more about where your food comes from. There are a couple of rules you need to stick to very closely as getting it wrong and can get you in to very big trouble one way or another. It is illegal, if you uproot any wild plants, take any plants without the owner’s permission or forage on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

1) Don’t pick without permission from anywhere that looks like it belongs to somebody without permission.

Foraging in public spaces and along footpaths is perfectly legal. There are even schemes and places where apple trees are being picked by the public because the owners can’t do it for themselves. This is ok. But if you climb over a fence or wall without asking, or even cross an unmarked boundary – this is not ok.

2) Do not pick or eat anything you don’t know what it is. This is very important with berries and mushrooms and lots of them are very deadly poisonous. We don’t want any ex-garden club members. If your not sure come out with me.

3) Whilst foraging remember the “Large Dog Rule!” While I probably don’t need to expand on this too much, when foraging along public footpaths, be wary of any harvest that could possibly be at ‘dog peeing height’.

Personally, I won’t pick anything under my waist height which is where a big dog would come up to on me.

4) Also, be mindful of areas that are near busy roads as the taste of exhaust fumes won’t be a great addition to your ladder.

5) Don’t do any damage whilst you are gathering nature’s bounty.

6) Don’t be greedy, leave some for other people and the wildlife.

This week we be foraging for rose hips and crab apples which the Orchard Training Cookery Club we will be turning in to jams. As we walk, we will be looking out for sweet chestnuts and hazel nut trees that we can visit over the next few weeks.



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