© Gerard Murphy  

Get your hands dirty.

March 31, 2017

With spring finally here, we're all looking for ways to eat lighter and include more plants in our diet. While it's always great to stock up on organic produce, it's not always easy on the wallet. Luckily for us, chef Mary Dumont of Boston's Cultivar (and a 2006 F&W Best New Chef) shared some of her favorite foraging and gardening tips when she dropped by our test kitchen to make her Yakitori Morels with Fava Bean Hummus.

1. Do your reading.

"One of the easiest things you can do when you start foraging is grab a book, like Wild Foods That I Have Known And Eaten by Russ Cohen, or download an app, like The Mushroom Book," she says. "Then try to identify things that are obviously not poisonous, of course."

2. When in doubt, check with an expert.

"If it’s your first time or second time or even your third time foraging, I would double- or triple-check anything you find," she says. "Bring it to someone at Whole Foods or another reputable organization that might know more about it than you do. As you learn more, you’ll have the freedom to go out by yourself."

3. If it's your first time gardening, start small.

"Container gardening is a great way to start a little garden in the city," she says. "Start with some herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme or basil, which always grows like crazy. As long as you make sure there’s good drainage, you should be all set."

4. Use the best soil available.

"Begin with the basics, like a good organic soil with lots of nutrients in it," says Dumont. "You can even send some of your soil off to a lab for a soil test to make sure you start off on the right foot. Once you get the basics down, you should be pretty successful."