Foraging Tips for Beginners

I absolutely love foraging and I’m writing this post hoping to inspire others to forage too.

Foraging Guidelines

Firstly l look on the internet to find somewhere that allows foraging.

There are important guidelines for foraging that I follow. I find the Woodland Trust’s Foraging Guidelines invaluable. Check them out for yourself if your thinking of having a go;

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/things-to-do/foraging/foraging-guidelines/

Weather

I then check the weather and dress accordingly. My favourite way to check is by using the BBC weather website because I find it the most reliable forecast;

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

Clothing

I like to wear walking boots when I forage because I often walk off the beaten track. I particularly love to pick my way through woods and walk beside river banks and the sea.

In very warm weather I like to put on my walking sandals. My sandals are made by Earth Spirit and I wear this brand because they are extremely comfortable, robust, and have a great grip.

This link gives you an idea of what they look like;

Earth Spirit Sandals at Amazon

Despite the weather forecast I keep my rain mac handy because of the changeable British weather. When I forage I need to use both of my hands so carrying an umbrella is not practical.

When I finish foraging I often look down and see that I have muddy trouser bottoms. For this reason I don’t wear my best clothes foraging. Another reason for me not to get dressed up is because my sleeves often get snagged on thorns.

Packing my Backpack

Filling up my backpack I ensure I leave enough room for my herbal bounty.

I don’t include everything but the kitchen sink because a heavy backpack makes my shoulders ache.

Labelling

I take freezer or food bags along with me so that I can separate each herb that I collect. However if I’m gathering berries its best to take containers because they may squash easily.

When I place the herbs inside the bag I stick on a label and write the herbs name on it. Some days I collect several different herbs so this makes them easily recognisable.

Arriving home I open the bags and place them on my garden table outside because this allows any remaining bugs to escape. 

Referencing

I take a couple of books with me to help me to identify the herbs. “Hedgerow Medicine” and “Wayside Medicine” books by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal are very useful to me.

These books include photographs of the herbs. From these pictures of the herbs flowers, leaves or fruits I can easily identify them. I enjoy reading about the herbs history, uses and suggestions for preparations too.

Buy these books at Wordery

or Amazon;

Hedgerow and Wayside Medicine

Both of these books can be quite heavy if you are foraging alone because of everything else you need to take. Therefore if you want smaller options I also find Collins Gem’s pocketbooks fantastic. Here are a couple that I use;



I’m finding the “Trees” book in particular a fascinating addition to my library.

I also print and take the Woodland Trust’s monthly foraging tips with me. They do a list of herbs to forage each month. Take a look at this link for more details;

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/things-to-do/foraging/

Mobile Phone and PlantNet

I also use a mobile app to help me to identify herbs while out and about. There are many apps out there but I chose PlantNet;

https://plantnet.org/en/

I add the app to my mobile phone and take it foraging with me. All I do is take a photograph of a herb that I wish to identify and then press ok. I then need to choose and click one of the following options to identify the herb from its leaf, flower, fruit, or bark etc.

Once clicked I’m rewarded with a list of possibilities from a huge database of options. There are lots of photos to compare from and see what your herb is. I have been finding that usually the first option is the correct one.

Then when I see the correct herb I press “confirm” and “save” so that my photograph can be added to PlantNet database and help others.

Sometimes its obvious which herb I’m looking at but other times I’m not sure and need to research via other options. Either way I always double check via my books and the internet.

Protection

I pack my gardening gloves because of the sharp thorns that I encounter.

I take wet wipes with me because they are handy to remove sticky berry juice from my hands. Some berries are so ripe that when I give them a slight squeeze their juice spurts everywhere.

My first aid remedy for stained clothes is immediately giving the stain a vigorous rub with a wet wipe. This action removes most of the damage. Then as soon as I get home I spray what is left with Vanish and wash the clothes.

Cutting

I also take secateurs because I find some of the plant stalks and branches  can be very tough.

I don’t take anything with me to dig up roots because this is not allowed without the landowners permission.

Being environmentally friendly is very important to me. Therefore I only forage enough for my personal use and ensure that plenty is left behind for the wildlife.

Herbs are so beautiful and I feel that it would be a crying shame to remove them all from the landscape.

When Night Falls

I get carried away sometimes and the dark rolls in before I realise.

For this reason I carry a wind up torch with me. I use the wind up variety so that I don’t need to worry about my batteries running out.  My night vision is very poor therefore carrying a torch is a necessity for me.

Food and drink

I like to take a bottle of water with me. Sometimes I take a small flask of herbal tea if it feels particularly cold outside.

I take a health bar with me because it gives me a natural burst of energy when I need it. Nakd or Frusli bars are my personal favourites.

Very Important

Finally I ensure that I take my rubbish home with me. I hate to see natural beauty spoiled by litter.

I don’t litter for the following reasons;

  • Its unsightly
  • May cause damage to the wildlife
  • Harms the environment because most of the litter I see is not biodegradable.

National Trust

My favourite places to forage include National Trust sites. Most of their places support foraging.

I also have a love of history and the National Trust combines my love of history and foraging perfectly. I particularly love to visit their Tudor properties and some of their gardens and woodlands are amazing.

Here is a link to their foraging guidelines;

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/news/our-position-on-foraging-for-wild-food

I like to visit National Trust sites as often as I can. Consequently I find that their annual membership saves me a lot of money when compared to paying for each visit seperately.

 

Be happy, healthy, and go have some fun!

 

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2 Replies to “Foraging Tips for Beginners”

  1. Oh wow! I had no idea you couldn’t just forage anywhere but had to be allowed! I would have just gone into the park and started picking, but now I know how to do it properly. Thank-you for sharing these tips 💖 Time to me to invest in some proper gardening gloves 🌱

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