Native replacements for common herbs and home growing

  • Hey Guest, For sale we have Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteel PLEASE LOOK HERE for more information or use the Pay Now button in the sidebar

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,161
964
Lancashire
The wild garlic thread got me wondering about edible native plant species, particularly those that could replace common kitchen herbs. I've got food for free and have borrowed from our library a foraging book but there's nothing I've seen that suggests replacement plants for common kitchen herbs bought in supermarkets dried, cut or growing.

I have this idea of a kitchen herb garden using native species but I have very little knowledge of native plants and their potential for cooking. I also have no idea of any nursery or seeds suppliers who I could use to build up this herb garden.

I'm moving into somewhere with a decent sized garden covered by trees over the majority. There are open spots too. I'm thinking wild garlic is almost certainly an option, although we have it growing so freely around where we're moving to. Other than that I've got a blank list.

I'm sure there's at least one person on here who has posted recipes using foraged foods. I'm expecting there's more who's knowledge puts mine to shame. Any service gratefully received.

Obviously I only want to grow what I can legally obtain. Also it needs to be safe and tasty. Ideally something that's as good as a direct replacement for say oregano, mint, thyme, sage, etc. Then there's the oddities. I'm sure there's tasty plants/herbs that will have no equivalents in the supermarket herb stand.

Any ideas?
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
3,251
2,318
63
Exmoor
Wild thyme and marjoram are two possibilities as is wild chervil.
I also use Jack by the hedge as a tasty addition to wild salads.
Dandelion is plentiful almost everywhere, and the petals can be used to colour rice instead of saffron.
Talking of saffron, how about some saffron crocus bulbs?
Wild onion grass is also tasty, it looks like small chives, and can be used the same way.
Unfortunately I cant help with where you might get things, as everything I've suggested I collect from the wild. Perhaps if you can find a wild plant that you fancy in your garden, you could collect the seeds at the right time of year yourself, and plant into trays and then plant out.
A lot of herbs like a dryer sunnier position than woodland though, wild marjoram for instance, which I often found by the seaside, on sandy areas.
 
  • Like
Reactions: henchy3rd

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,707
2,623
S. Lanarkshire
See when you take possession of your new home and garden ? take time to really, really see your garden properly.
Every garden has spots within it where microclimates exist.

Sunny dry spots, or shady warm ones, cool but bright ones, a warm wall, a sodden wet bit, that kind of thing.

Those herbs you mention grow happily in my damp and overcast woodland edge garden. It's not beyond mortal wit to create spaces for them to grow.

Buy decent seed or young pot plants. Herbs do fine in pots (indeed if you don't keep mint potted the blasted stuff spreads like you would not believe, especially if the ground is damp) and you can move them around until you find just the right place for them. Then get them into the ground (mint apart!)

Sage love warm and sunny, but needs water, it also is the better for being nipped back often. Dry those pickings and rub them up, store in a dark jar (old marmite ones are excellent) or a dark drawer.

Despite frost, snow, etc., I'm still picking fresh mint, both for tea and tatties :) just now.

Rosemary doesn't do quite so well easily here. I have to keep it warm, sheltered, bright, but it grows and flowers too :)

I even have an olive tree, and a fig tree, and both fruit, but I have to move them into the greenhouse over Winter.

I can't grow ginger, which is a great lack, I haven't even managed it in the house, but pretty much every other herb, I manage fine.

If I can do it here, you can manage there :)
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,026
1,183
Berlin
Our European flora offers far more tasty herbs than edible plants with a high nutrition value. And even the wild edible plants are very tasty or spicy.

The usual kitchen herbs that you can buy dried in the supermarket mostly belong into the Mediterranean flora, but because surely already the old Romans and for sure medieval monks displaced them and did care for them scientifically in wall protected gardens, you can get them in robust qualities if you buy from professional gardeners instead of some kind of cheap shops that aren't specialised. (It's the same with fruit trees and bushes, by the way: spend money and buy from the best specialist in your area!)
Some species come from eastern Europe too.

Wild and domesticated herbs are a science, and I doubt that such a thread can replace a good book about it.

Located in the right spot most European herbs grow nearly like weeds. Important is, that you try to create the circumstances they need as close as possible. Don't buy and just plant them, you should think about how to treat them well as if you would buy a few animals.

Copy their original living places as nice as the director of a zoological garden!

Mediterranean herbs for example belong next to the heated house, next to the warm wall, they should stand on a chalky little hill, a lot of stones around them and they need sun all the day, no shadow in Britain. Mediterranean herbs belong to the wall that points southward on the most sunny point.

Others like to stand directly at the water tap because they need a lot of water and like this they will get it without extra work.

Herbs are nice to grow, because they cause less work after they are planted and you also can go for holydays without employing a gardener, what you would need if you grow vegetables.

Fruit trees, bushes and herbs, bought in the right places, planted on the right spots following professional recommendations look nice, don't make too much work and are very effective regarding effort and gain.

I recommend to ask for the best English book and to ask the best gardeners of your area.

As conditions already change every few metres, I don't recommend you much more than to collect a few stones for the lizards in a sunny corner and to give them a water source and to do for the birds as much as you can, because they aren't just nice to see, but will help you in your garden better than anybody else.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

punkrockcaveman

Full Member
Jan 28, 2017
955
772
yorks
Wildfood uk reccomends ground elder as a better and safer parsley substitute to wild chervil, which can be confused with hemlock. I haven't tasted it yet myself
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,137
4,490
Mid Wales
I am on a lifelong project of cataloguing Britain's Native Wild Plants (i.e. those that were here before Doggerland flooded) and their medicinal, culinary and utilitarian uses - so the ethnobotanical study of the tool chest of Mesolithic and Neolithic British. The database consists of just short of 1500 species but that will be whittled down as many have no documented uses that I have found yet.

There are hundreds already logged as edible or used as additions to cooking. A lot of them are not as 'strong-flavoured' as Mediterranean herbs but still pack enough punch to make them useful.
 
Last edited:

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,344
354
Devon
You do need to be carful with plants becoming invasive. Ground elder especially can be a real problem. (I also thought it wasn't a native?).

Personally if you don't have a huge amount of space I'd concentrate on growing a good selection of everyday non-native culinary herbs as they are so useful in the kitchen. Something like sage, thyme, bay, chives, mint and rosemary and anything else you often use.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Toddy

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,161
964
Lancashire
It's a fair sized garden but apart from the lower area it's tree covered. The lower area is the patio, greenhouse, a small sloping lawn and borders containing a mix of shrubs, an apple tree and open spaces? That's possibly the same area as the three bedroom house. The rest is tree covered mostly and a decent area. I reckon being under cover of the trees it's typical Ransomes terrain? I just wondered if there are other similar shade loving, native plants.

The Mediterranean herbs we have and grow ok in pots here in the backyard. Including mint which gets eaten into submission by the dog and our son? Both like it for different reasons? Son because he likes the taste. Dog because it has an update stomach although it preferred lemon balm I think it's called or lemon thyme. That lasted two or three hours of stomach issues before we realised then we put it out of her way to let it recover.

I'm hoping to keep things native and basically stuff that could be expected to grow locally in woods but of use in cooking. Obviously that means plants or native herbs that grow well under trees. Right now it's got periwinkle running free and flowering when it's time.

I know the principle among gardeners of waiting a year to see what comes up. Well we've seen late summer into autumn. Way things are going it'll be February or possibly march before we're in. I'm unlikely to get round to doing this until summer anyway which will be virtually a year of watching albeit at irregular intervals. It's going to be coming back into life when we get in.

So anyone know good nurseries that might stock native herbs and plants that could be grown under trees happily for food use? Interested in your database broch. Do you have any specific suggestions for under trees? BTW am I missing a trick? Periwinkle isn't edible is it? I thought it wasn't. As I said I'm not very good at plant id hence the need to be sure I'll getting what I can use such as by getting from a specialist nursery.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,161
964
Lancashire
I think it's an interesting project to try and cultivate native edible plants like we do with the common cooking herbs, vegetables and fruits. I mean there's obvious larger plants and trees like Rowan, various native roses for the rose hips, sea buckthorn, sloes, etc? Not all are suitable here if course. They are all larger plants that take space we might not have? Undergrowth plants that grow happily under trees are different. Under planting seems efficient to me.

I think there's two large leylandii trees there and if I'm right I want them out. If we do the there's possibly spaces for something bigger. I like the idea of Rowan tree. We have yews I'm think already. I know juniper grows in a fair few areas in the lakes just north of us but could that grow in a created clearing in our garden? It's Arnside and Silverdale AONB which has a lot of limestone bedrock and outcrop. We're in such an area. I think juniper might be more acidic soil like on the fells. I am just guessing because it grows well on the west side of the Helvellyn slopes. 15 or so years back there was a big planting project up there where there planted juniper in the more difficult to reach areas. IIRC climbers were used to plant on rocky outcrops too. My anything to make it hard for sheep to graze the young plants. I think there's areas with native juniper trees near Coniston area too. Some really old specimens too.

Anyone know if there's gardens of native, edible plants anywhere? I know there's plenty of gardens open to the public around UK that specialise in certain categories of plants but any for native plants that are useful for food not just physick.
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
3,251
2,318
63
Exmoor
Permaculture,! Look into forest gardening. ..forest garden. By Patrick whitefield would give you a lot of ideas. I knew him and worked and studied permaculture with him , so I'm thinking that his book would be an excellent place to start. It will tell you all you want to know about zoning, and varieties of plants, how to plan and plant etc. That would be where I would start even now, it's a great reference. I lost my copy, must get another someday.
 
The wild garlic thread got me wondering about edible native plant species, particularly those that could replace common kitchen herbs. I've got food for free and have borrowed from our library a foraging book but there's nothing I've seen that suggests replacement plants for common kitchen herbs bought in supermarkets dried, cut or growing.

I have this idea of a kitchen herb garden using native species but I have very little knowledge of native plants and their potential for cooking. I also have no idea of any nursery or seeds suppliers who I could use to build up this herb garden.

I'm moving into somewhere with a decent sized garden covered by trees over the majority. There are open spots too. I'm thinking wild garlic is almost certainly an option, although we have it growing so freely around where we're moving to. Other than that I've got a blank list.

I'm sure there's at least one person on here who has posted recipes using foraged foods. I'm expecting there's more who's knowledge puts mine to shame. Any service gratefully received.

Obviously I only want to grow what I can legally obtain. Also it needs to be safe and tasty. Ideally something that's as good as a direct replacement for say oregano, mint, thyme, sage, etc. Then there's the oddities. I'm sure there's tasty plants/herbs that will have no equivalents in the supermarket herb stand.

Any ideas?
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/things-to-do/foraging/
Keith.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Erbswurst

Hultafors Outdoor knife for Sale

We have a a number of Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteels for sale.

You can see more details here in this thread OUTDOOR KNIVES The price is £27 posted to the UK. Pay via the paypal button below.