Scary stories from a lovely place

Foraged fennel flan

We’ve been consuming a lot of gardening books around here lately. Every time I visit the library compelling titles keep jumping off the shelves into my eager little hands. I’ve been cramming all sorts of gardening information into my brain; how to improve soil, no dig gardens, food forests, potagers, perennials, espaliered fruit trees and all manner of manure and compost.

I’ve really enjoyed this diversion from Thomas the Tank Engine and building endless block towers. I’ve definitely learned a lot, but am also feeling more unsure about whether or not I should pursue gardening, namely growing edible plants for me and the fam. Gardening itself is such a pure exploit and even if we just duck outside and pull a few weeds I feel all the better for it.

But as for the edible food gardening I am concerned about the basics economics of it. It seems like it could get bloody expensive, once seeds have been raised, the soil improved and mulched, the plants fertilised and water applied. I know there are benefits, like eating food that tastes better than store bought stuff, avoiding chemical or genetic interference and the simple pride that comes from self sufficiency. But, as with other aspects of ethical eating, I worry that these are luxuries to be afforded by the middle class, and when considered from purely a fiscal point of view, growing an edible garden doesn’t make sense. I’m still trying to figure it all out, and probably the best answers will come if and when I have an opportunity to try.


In the meantime one little book I got recently from the library is providing somewhat of a relief to my wonderings. It’s called ‘The Weed Forager’s Handbook: a guide to edible and medicinal weeds in Australia’ and it’s written by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland, two full time food foragers. For a while I have wondered if foraging could be the cheap solution to my issues with edible gardening. Unfortunately I haven’t known where to start. There was a stray mandarin tree near my old house but it’s fruit was always mouldy on the tree, surely a bad sign. In Ireland it was easy to enjoy blackberries from wild vines every day on our walks, but here most of them seem to be sprayed.


Thanks to Grubb and Raser-Rowland’s knowledge I’ve been enjoying a few shoots of Plantain and a leaf or two of wild Amaranth that seem to be all around me. I am looking forward to seeking out some of the other varieties, like Chickweed, Dandelions, Fat hen and wild Brassicas. Yesterday I grabbed some young wild fennel (it only grows the leaves, not the bulbous root) and added it in abundance to last night’s quiche. It was lovely.



3 comments on “Foraged fennel flan

  1. crownlandgardener
    December 11, 2012

    thanks for this.

  2. Ally
    December 15, 2012

    I’ve had the same dilemma (again). I think it takes a long while for edible gardening to pay for itself. Really clever designs do seem more self-sustaining but require a bigger commitment in the beginning. Have you heard of Permablitz? They can ‘blitz’ your garden in a weekend for free provided you’re willing to help out others once or twice. I’ve been trying the weeds in my garden, but so far they seem all but inedible 🙂

  3. The Forager
    December 16, 2012

    I would suggest that you garden as part of a continuum from foraging to growing that you aren’t moving along but straddling. You are unlikely to forage much energy from the wild, but certainly gather a lot of healthy stuff,both physical and mental. Grow herbs, forage what you are comfortable with, and build knowledge. Nothing shortcuts the fact that to take on both is to take on a vast knowledge system, bit by bit. And that is why you do it.

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This entry was posted on December 11, 2012 by in Beefs, Home, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , .
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