I love how exciting foraging can be. Again, free couple hours in the evening, so went for a walk in the river valley. Found some Agaricus Campestris [meadow mushroom] in nice shape. Spent a fair bit of time seeing a lot of not much, then found some nice, plump saskatoons. Again, not much for some time, then came across a meadow with broad patches of horseradish. When taking a closer look at the horseradish, I was taken aback at the plant that surrounded them: asparagus. I know, crazy. But it didn’t stop there. I kept on into the bush and found another serious patch of asparagus. By serious, I mean mature, old, and huge. The plants were far taller than me, maybe 8 feet tall. Unbelievable. And on it went. Next up: I spotted some big-ass allium flower that looked like nodding onion meets wild chive, but huge. Lots. It has a broad, flat, tender leaf like a nodding onion, but it looks more like a leek. Best I can tell, it’s Allium Senescens – a type of wild onion [common name: German Garlic]. Still trying to dig up information about it. Lastly, a patch of minty-sagey artemesia of some kind – I know what I want to do with it, more on that later. Photos of all of this below.
These finds excite me on a variety of levels. Not only did I find fruit, veg, mushrooms, herbs, onion, and horseradish in a one-hour walk in the city – I got instantly excited about the prospects of spring foraging. The asparagus and allium are on south-facing banks, and will be up early in the spring. Fantastic. You know what I’ll be eating this coming spring – a time when anything green and fresh is welcome here. I also have decided growing horseradish in my garden is pointless. For the amount I need and for how invasive it is, foraging it is. I’m stoked at the prospect of exploring how these things that grow together, go together. Lastly, I’m left dumbfounded by the foraging potential in our city with the resource that is our river valley, and am grateful for my close proximity to it – I can walk there. I’m going to have one seriously nice terroir-driven meal tomorrow.
It is surprising what you can find in valley, both simply at random (birds?) and in large patches (old market gardens?). The Aspagus is a great find. The chokecherries will soon be harvestable as well.
Where, where? I’ve looked for asparagus myself, but never seem to find more than a single overgrown plant (or two). Whereabouts did you locater this bounty?
I was lucky enough to find a bounty of wild asparagus this spring in the coulees here. Wonderful stuff! Agreed on the horseradish- I thought I had dug all mine out and its back with a vengeance. I’m hoping the wild stuff grows in southern Alberta too. When I lived in Edmonton, we also found hazelnuts.. a bit labor intensive, but kind of cool to find nuts. Keep your eye out before the squirrels get them all!
I am going to get studying edibles and foraging. Love the concept. Used to do it when I was younger and went canoeing in Northern Sask. Lots of edibles.
When foraging I find having “Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada” handy to have. There’s photos, descriptions and poisonous look-a-likes, where to find, etc.
Debra: I love that book, invaluable when out camping especially.
Pingback: Episode 40 – Wild Onion | BC's Natural Home and Garden
Dumb question but is there anyone in town that does foraging tours or lessons more or less or any good books you would suggest i am an avid cook and i am looking to change the way i cook to a more local taste
I used to, but don’t anymore. Your best resource is the Alberta Mycological Society. Although mushroom focused, many of the folks involved are very good with identifying other wild plants.
What??? Asparagus and horseradish growing right in River Valley??? That’s incredible! I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled the next time I go for a hike.