The Cottage Smallholder

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Wild garlic: Ramsons (Allium ursinum)


Photo: Wild garlic

Photo: Wild garlic

Back in the last century, when I was at boarding school, the music and science block was a short five minute walk from our classroom. This is also where I was taught to play the violin by The Missing Link but that’s another story.

In Spring there were frothy cushions of wild garlic either side of the road. No one was keen on singing lessons so one day we thought that we’d spice things up a bit and eat some wild garlic.
“Then we’ll open our mouths as wide as possible as we sing.”
“Yes lets! She can’t complain as for once we’ll all be singing with gusto.”
We chomped in delicious anticipation.

Miss King, the music mistress was formidable. We trooped in eager to begin singing and quickly picked up our sheets of music. After the first few opening bars she held up her baton.
“You have been eating wild garlic!” She roared. Furiously opening windows.
“If you ever do this again I will report the entire class to The Head Mistress.”
She wouldn’t have lasted a minute on the Paris metro.
“You will all close your mouths tight, sit down and listen to music instead.”
The strains of Debussy warbled from the gramophone and I was transported. Ever since then Debussy’s Claire de Lune is magically linked to those pretty, pungent flowers.

Despite searching avidly I have not found wild garlic around here. It can become a bit of a thug but is so useful for cooking in the spring. Wild garlic can be used to make fresh garlic pesto, garlic butter, garlic infused vinegar and so much more. If you have a dehydrator it can be dried to fill the gap between finishing your garlic from the year before and harvesting in the summer. Of course, if you wish to put your singing teacher in her place, it could be munched on the way to your lesson.

As a woodland plant it would be perfect for planting on the north side of our front garden, under the trees where very little grows. I spotted that the Garlic Farm are selling wild garlic bulbs – 12 for £10. So I’ve invested in some and am looking forward to seeing it appear next spring. We want this to spread – so we’ll just make meagre pickings in the first year.

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  1. Oops, I meant “Until now” 😉

  2. Until know I didn’t know it was possible to plant ramsons! Not that I’d be able to use this discovery… I don’t suppose they’d grow on my balcony 🙁 I must content myself with buying them on the market. My favourite way is using them in pesto, and this year’s almond and ramsons pesto is by far my favourite! (Not to mention the saved money). I highly recommend it!
    I will also start drying it this year and will make garlic oil. Thanks for the suggestions! Does anyone know how to preserve pesto for a long time? (I mean out of the fridge). I think it’s not possible with home methods…

  3. Have planted wild garlic from the garlic farm this year, it went in early October. I don’t plan to harvest any in the coming year, I want it to establish and spread!

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