Foraging and Nature Walks

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Have you thought about foraging for food? On a nature walk in Jesse H. Jones Park, my brother and I discussed the feasibility of foraging.

What a busy week for family oriented events. Along with the celebrations surrounding Easter Week, we had Earth Day and my father’s seventieth birthday. On Saturday, a German club of which he is a member had a party for its members and a birthday celebration for him. This was held at Jesse H. Jones Park. I had never been to this park, but I had heard of it. The park is located behind a neighborhood near Deerbrook Mall. We had a great time at the party, but the nature hike was the best part for me. The children were engrossed in their explorations of any animal that they could find and the plants that engulfed us.
above ground rootskatya on tree

    My  first impression was that this park was well organized for the family fun picnic, while making the nature walk accessible. I also liked the fact that signs discussed several of the plants and the habitat. I would have liked more signs. Many of the signs dealt with the ow plants were used. My brother mentioned tat he had been reading a book about foraging in Texas. There are many common plants around us that are edible, but you do not find them on our plates. The most obvious edible was a berry. My brother spotted many red berries on a vine running along the ground. I mentioned that his is a blackberry. The red berries are the immature fruit, and can be quite tart, so he looked for a few black berries to try. I have this vine in my front garden, and the children collect a few pounds every other day. I pointed out that we were surrounded by grapes. You can find mustang grapes around Texas. Early German settlers made a wine from this grape, but this is more of a table grape. I pointed out that the grape leaves are edible, and he could stuff them with rice.
    I did not know that the Sweetgum tree was used by children as a gum. The leaves were munched like gum. I am not sure about the flavor. The tree that I wanted was the Texas Redbud. I knew that the flowers have been used in cooking, but more parts of this tree are edible. I would like to try the seed pods.  As we walked on to the river, we talked about the cattails that grow in wet conditions. That is one thing which was obvious when walking by the cypress trees; the water level was quite low in the bog section of the park. Another reminder of the drought in our area. The roots of the cattails can be prepared like a potato, but I heard that the seed heads were prepared like popcorn. I have to confirm hat fact about the seed head. We also saw a few plants that looked like iriland sea oats, which can be used like other oats.
    As we walked along the path, continuing our discussion, the children came running past, asking about another plant. The question becomes “can foraging be a way to obtain enough to eat for a meal?” If we were determined foragers, we could probably have found enough for a meal; I guess. The problem is that you need to know what you can eat. This problem of knowing is really important when it comes to mushrooms. I have heard of people picking a plant that they think is an edible, but it turns out to be poisonous. I think foraging can be a good teaching moment for the children, but I do not live close enough to wild areas to harvest Texas natives for food on a regular basis. I have met determined urban foragers. There are many plants in our yards that can be edibles, and often people do not use them for meals. I prefer using the natives in the garden. Besides the blackberries, I do have the sea oats (this is a new planting) and jerusalem artichoke (which are the sunflowers seen along many Texas roads).  When natives are established, your water usage goes down.  Maybe I should try out a mustang grape.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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