Blackberry bushes in our backyard!
Since our house was completely surrounded by the forest and a bit of what I call "scrub land," which was mainly blackberry bushes, I learned quickly how to use all those wild plants for food. Have you ever seen how expensive blackberries are in the grocery store? We get all we want during the summer. They grow like crazy and even when you remove them, they try their best to come back. I have never had to do anything to them like pruning or any type of care at all. They thrive on their own.
An heirloom apple tree in our backyard!
A homestead in the forest has much available as far as edible wild foods and medicinal wild plants. It is possible also to take starts of some of those plants and trees and bring them closer to your gardens. I have so many wild plants that live around us that if you properly care for them, you can leave them right where they are and harvest them every year.
Properly pruning the old heirloom apple trees that are plentiful in our state forest here in upstate New York, would probably give you an abundant supply of apples. I took a class on grafting them from scions and I did do that. But mine only grew a year or two and I did not keep onto it. Neglecting it was not the way to get them started. Now my friend, Jamie, had started quite a bunch of little apple trees when she was living here in NY. She started her trees in an area near her house and garden and then she planned to move them onto her property as they became bigger. She has since then moved to Missouri so I don't know if she took them with her or not.
Apples this year on our heirloom apple tree were plentiful!
The forest around us is packed full of these old heirloom apple trees that have been growing uncared for, probably for more than a hundred years. I have also seen many old foundations of homes that existed way back, that had many plants and trees growing around them from the days when somebody cared for them. If you could spend the time cultivating these old time apple varieties, you would have a source apples and not have to wait for new trees to develop, and give you a crop.
Wild grapes grow thickly through the state forest.
Another wild plant that is all through our state forest is wild grapes or some people call them "fox grapes" and we have lots of them. I pick them for grape juice and can it for future use. One of my husband's favorites! You have to cover them with netting or something to protect them from the birds and the bees. In the summer before they are ripe, the birds and bees will devour them while I am waiting for them to ripen! Same with the elderberries.
Elderberries grow all over the forest in NY!
Now elderberries can be used for juice, jams, jellies, pie filling (was my mother's favorite pie), among other things as well as medicinal uses for the flu or preventative medicine. I canned a lot of elderberry juice with no sugar, and add it when I use it. Or I add Stevia for sweetening. You can also make it into a homemade gelatin.
Our forest in the fall!
I have only touched on a few of my forest pantry plants today. I will do another post in the near future to bring more of these awesome foods to your attention.Such as wild huckleberries, raspberries, strawberries and more. So right here without purchasing them, planting them or starting them I have many fruits growing on their own around me. Blackberries, apples, grapes, elderberries, strawberries, raspberries, huckleberries or blueberries, are all plants I can harvest every year. If my crops are not coming in real good, I can prune them or try to bring more sunlight to them. And I can even add natural, organic fertilizer to help them along. Sometimes they just need some tender loving care to bounce back.
If you have a forest garden or homestead, leave a comment, so I can check it out if you have a website or blog. I love to see others doing this so these plants and trees are not let go and die out.
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole