Spring Foraging and Plant Emporium!

Spring Foraging and Plant Emporium!

Mar 20, 2024Calixta Killander

As we look to grow our team for a busy season ahead, we're welcoming two new crew members – Katie joins us this week across the farm and packing barn, while next week is Josh's first week.

With a background in bakeries and cafés where she developed an interest in produce, Katie started to build relationships with the local farmers that supplied the places she worked. Moving down from Manchester, she was looking for a new adventure linked to food and produce, and landed on our doorstep where her background in hospitality will be a great fit especially when it comes to harvesting and packing produce for our chef customers.

As illustrated by Katie's wild garlic, now is the ideal time to get out there and enjoy spring's finest foraging delights. The local woodlands are looking especially lush after all the recent rain. Just remember to pick lightly and leave plenty for wildlife!

Wild garlic: The most coveted foraging find of recent years, wild garlic can be found in shady woodland areas and is identified by its broad, short leaves and strong garlic smell. Carefully snip the leaves and leave the bulbs, to ensure it grows back in future years. Makes for a delicious pesto!

Garlic mustard: Can be invasive and readily self-seeds, so pick away! With heart-shaped leaves and small white flowers, the young leaves are garlicky and delicious in salads or sauces.

Three-cornered leek: Another invasive one, this mild and sweet leaf can be found in dappled shade and grass verges. Delicious in sauces and pestos.

Hawthorn blossom: The leaves, buds and flowers of these hedgerow stalwarts have a long folk history of being used in tinctures and infusions. These flat heads of delicate white spring blossom prelude the sweet haw berries.

Nettles: These little stingers are high in amino acids, protein, flavonoids, and bone-building minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Picked young and tender (use gloves!), these nettle leaves have a mild, lightly peppered taste when eaten raw and can be a fantastic addition to your salad. Once cooked, nettles taste like a mix between spinach and cucumber; fresh and wholesome.

Cleavers: Also known as goosegrass or sticky willy (no giggling at the back), this valuable wild plant provides food for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species, including the barred straw moth and hummingbird hawk-moth. Rich in Vitamin C and popular in medieval kitchens, this tender plant is a versatile early season green.

Finally, the mud season from hell has finished and spring has well and truly sprung here at Flourish. Lots of blooms are coming in and mountains of show-stopping spring tulips are making their way out of the tunnels and into the Farm Shop - with ranunculus following hot on their heels. After the last few weeks of wet and hold-ups, everything is starting to feel more positive.

We got into the fields to begin to prepare for planting this week and, even though we're definitely behind schedule, we're happy to get moving again. The green manures have been mowed down and we've started some ploughing thanks to our local friend Neal - something we keep to a minimum but is sometimes necessary to get into the fields. Soon we'll be planting kales, lettuces and herbs, plus basils in the freshly composted tunnels. 

The marathon of potting on has continued, with literally thousands of tomato, aubergine, chilli and pepper plants moved into their temporary homes before being planted out in the next 3-4 weeks.

We hope you enjoy the beautiful flowers popping up around the Farm Shop, and you may notice our brand new Plant Emporium - freshly built and will be fully stocked in time for our pop-up with Off The Beaten Truck this Saturday! Expect an assortment of delicious strawberries including Marshmallow, Malwina and Christine - all super banging and super delicious, whether you’re growing in a garden or on a balcony. There’ll also be a stunning range of flowers to support pollinators in your growing space, pick ‘n’ mix wildflowers – and an amazing selection of veg and herb plants hand-raised by us and ready to plant.

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