The Forager's Calendar
Unfortunately, understanding where to forage is only half the battle! In order to be a successful forager, you also need to know when to forage, which can sometimes be quite difficult. Generally speaking, the most fruitful times of the year to forage are during late Summer and early Autumn. During these times, many plants are producing flowers, berries and nuts, and many mushrooms are sending out their first flushes of fuiting bodies (the parts that we eat), so there's a huge range of options available to us. That is not to say that the other times of the year are no good for foraging - on the contrary - Spring offers many delicious greens, such as Sorrel and Wild Garlic; early Summer is the best time to forage for Elderflowers, and even the icy cold of Winter can yield many delicious fungi, such as Winter Chanterelles, Wood Ears, and Oysters mushrooms.
This section of the website is dedicated to explaining what finds are available as the seasons change and progress and offers a good starting point for developing your forager's seasonal sense. It is, though, only a rough guide - some plants and mushrooms provide only a small window of opportunity for harvest and this will undoubtedly vary from year to year, depending on your location in the country, and the temperature, humidity and rainfall over the season. As is true with many things in life, in foraging, our experience and intuition will often be our best guide, not to mention a helping hand from Lady Luck, Herself! Anticipation, and indeed, disappointment, are both part of the thrill of the hunt.
Springtime brings some wonderful edibles for the table. Fresh spring greens and a few flowers and mushrooms.
“... It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so ...”
Summer truly is a time of plenty, with many greens, flowers, and some berries becoming abundant. Late summer is also the start of the mushroom season, with some delicious fungi available if you know where to look.
“... What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness ...”
Autumn is traditionally a time of harvest, and the same is true in the foraging world with a huge array of fruit, nuts, and berries available. The month of October is also considered to be the best time for mushroom hunting and a time to gather fungi of all varieties.
“... Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits ...”
Winter is a time of dormancy for most wild foods, but some are still available if you know where to look! Some hardy greens and few winter mushrooms are able to withstand the firsts frosts, and the Medlar, hailing from desert climates, ripens somewhat later than our domestic fruits.