Something that I have found to be very helpful with my wild harvest planning is keeping a list of harvest times and gleaning contacts.
It’s a very simple sheet, which I keep posted on my bulletin board by my desk.
All it is is a piece of paper listing each month of the year. Underneath each month, I’ve written down which fruits are ready to harvest during that time. I don’t write specific dates, ’cause it varies every year, but I do note whether these things can be expected early in the month, or later on.
Here’s an example of my notes. Remember, harvest months are different depending on your area and climate. I am in the Southeast, Zone 7…
(January-March are empty.)
Black Walnuts (late)
Grapes, Muscadines (early)
(Nov-Dec are empty)
As you can see, the list is not exhaustive. Mainly, it is for me to keep up with the stuff that I can glean from others, and when to harvest from wild growing plants. This list is not meant to keep track of my garden produce… I write those notes in my garden journal.
I also jot down underneath each item the names and contact info of those I know who have these plants to glean from. Any time I learn of a friend or family member who has a particular fruit or nut tree, or a berry bush that they don’t have any interest in picking from, I make a note to ask them about it when that fruit comes into season next time around.
I am amazed at how many people I have to glean from, and the list keeps growing!! I’m also not shy about asking a complete stranger if they ever pick from their trees, if I happen to see that they have something they aren’t harvesting.
For instance, last year I bought a canner from a lady at a yard sale. I noticed she had several fig and apple trees by her home. I asked her if she ever cans what she grows and she said, “No. I don’t pick any of that anymore.” It just falls to the ground and rots!! You better believe I got her name and number, and plan on giving her a call in early summer to see if she minds if I glean from her unwanted produce. I also have a neighbor who can’t stand his pecan tree. He says it makes a mess! So, he is happy to let me come and clean up for him.
The guy we buy peaches from has raspberry bushes he’s happy to let us glean from. And the lady we buy muscadines from has apple trees she’s happy to let us clean up. Never be afraid to ask! Often you are doing people a favor by gleaning their unwanted fruits. And I am always blessed to be able to express my gratitude by bringing these generous friends some jelly, or preserves, or a fresh baked pecan pie!
As I learn of new contacts, or new fruits coming into season, I jot them down on my list. It’s a great way to keep track of what to expect and plan for each month, so that nothing slips by me.
If you aren’t keeping some sort of notes like this, I’d encourage you to start writing things down as they come into season in your area. This has been a great way for me to fill our pantry for very little cost!