February foraging guide: best foods to find and recipe ideas

February is upon us, and despite the cold weather, there's plenty to be getting on with in the garden and in the countryside

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What to forage for in February

Alexanders

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Alexanders are a pungent plant with pale green and white flowers/Credit: Getty

Alexanders is one of the first edible plants of the foraging year. You can find it along rivers, watercourses and woodland edges. An escapee from Roman gardens, where it was grown as a pot herb, it can often be found around towns and cities that were once occupied by the Romans.

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Alexanders belong to the Umbelliferae family, which has some deadly members, such as hemlock. It’s quite easy to tell the difference between alexanders and hemlock at a glance, but always consult a guidebook to be safe. Alexanders flowers in late spring, has yellow flowers and a celery-like smell. The deadly hemlock, on the other hand, has an unpleasant smell resembling mouse urine, and its flowers, which often appear in early summer, are white.

Alexanders leaves and stems have such an individual taste – somewhere between celery and parsley – they can be served very simply. Gently steam them for a few minutes and serve with melted butter.

February project

Plant a fruit tree

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Plant a fruit tree and grow your own/Credit: Getty

The easiest way to ensure wild food is at hand is to plant a fruit tree. The dormant winter period is the best time to do this,
as it prevents the tree from going into shock.

Take care when choosing your site, ensuring that your tree will get plenty of light and the soil is free draining. Also think about how the tree will look fully grown, both above and below ground. Above ground, fully grown trees can restrict access and block light, while underground roots can damage foundations.

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When digging your hole, dig only slightly deeper than the soil it was originally in and three times wider than the root ball. Put your tree in the hole and back fill with a good compost.

Image: Getty