Thursday, 1 November 2012

Berries and Nuts bring a late harvest bonus in
The Forest Garden

Some of the plants growing in the FG are to say at least unusual as food plants, indeed who would think that the Berberis and Hawthorn would feature as an important Autumn crop.

Here is Berberis wilsonii and I must admit picking these is not for faint hearts as there are many sharp spines in amongst the berries.I have discovered that the spines all seem to point in one direction and the berries can be stripped by lining up two fingers carefully behind the rear bunch and pulling towards the tip.Using this system I managed to strip my plants without drawing blood. having collected the berries what next? Processing using a "Green Life" juicer got a remarkable volume of bright pink juice which tasted just like lemon juice and indeed can be used as a lemon substitute as its high in vitamins and has anti cancer properties.Oh yeas as with other berry plants, please leave some on for the birds.

Next up is Hawthorne C. schraderiana quite delicious raw but has the drawback of having 5 hard seeds to deal with, so its out with the moulee and after a bit of grinding you get a pulp which can be eaten just as it is or frozen/ dehydrated for later use. You can also cook the fruit and decant the juice for freezing or just drink straight away (its delicious). Or of course make jam/jelly. I estimate 5kg per tree but I left some berries on for the birds.
Yes I know, i did think that the chestnut crop had failed due to the vast number of dud nuts that fell in September. My brilliant tree saved the best for last as despite the poor summer it still produced about 3kg of plump nuts, more than enough to secure a festive nut roast.Brilliant!!!
This is a Trazel nut cluster (Trazel is a cross between the Turkish hazel and a European hazel) This is my best performing nut tree by a country mile producing 100's of nuts this year.They are the same size and taste as European hazels.
And now for some Autumnal tones.
This is Koulrateria paniculata or the Golden rain tree giving off a golden glow.
Here is Hawthorn C.ellwangeriana in bronze effect.

And to finish the leaves of a Black Chokeberry(V. Hugin), quite stunning.

Till next time.