Wild garlic

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, sang Andy Williams. In my mind, he’s singing about April when spring is springing and the wild garlic is out.

One of the ultimate seasonal foods, there in abundance in the right places (moist conditions in acidic soils of humus-rich woodland with dappled sunlight) right now, soon to be gone. You can’t get wild garlic air-freighted in from Peru or Kenya.

The first time I ever encountered wild garlic I was walking in a patch of woodland in Goathland, the floor under my feet thick with it. I had no idea why the place stank of garlic.

On a college trip to Wales years later I yelled for our minibus to stop somewhere near Betws-y-Coed so I could grab an armful of the stuff. I made wild garlic pesto to go with pasta for dinner that night. Everyone got norovirus. The wild garlic pesto and the norovirus were unconnected but for a short while I was convinced I’d given everyone food poisoning.

I picked this up today, a miniscule fraction of what was there in the shadow of Ivybridge Viaduct. My mother in law seems worried that dogs have peed all over it. I don’t care, I have wild garlic and it’s going in to pesto, butter and mayonnaise.

I’ve planted bulbs in two previous homes and annoyingly not stayed in either for long enough for it to yield a good harvest. I’ll be planting it at our next place, if we don’t already have it, but there’s something so much more satisfying about finding it out in the wild. It’s literally in the name.

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