Walking back from the school drop off my nostrils were assailed by the scent of wild garlic and my mouth was watering. So I got down to harvesting lovely leaves and flowers heads to take home and whip up some pesto and create a little altar display for my May full moon altar.
Wild garlic is most easily recognisable by its delightfully garlicky smell, white flowers and broad green leaves and is usually found in shady areas near water in rich soils. They are a perennial crop appearing through winter to spring before dying back in the summer. Although wild garlic is entirely edible from bulb (although it doesn’t store as well as commercial garlic) to flower it grows alongside other spring plants which are poisonous, like bluebells. Before you run out foraging make sure you are able to identify wild garlic with certainty.
The best time to harvest wild garlic is winter to late spring although as the season gets later avoid leaves that are browning as they loose their taste. The process is very simple. Grasping the plant, flowers leaves and all, you cut the plant off close to the ground using a sharp knife or scissors. Put your harvest into a basket or bag and continue until you have enough for your recipe.
Some classic recipes include Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic and Potato Soup although it can be used in salads for extra flavour and as a tasty garnish to meat and fish. Just remember to take as much as you need, leaving enough for others and environment .
If you of have the right ground it is possible to grow your own crop of wild garlic. Plums and Pignuts gives some wonderful advice on growing your own garlic, as does Know Your Vegetables although if you intend to propagate by replanting bulbs make sure you are harvesting from common land or have the landowners permission. The area I was gathering in is common ground so I’m intending to go back and harvest bulbs whilst we are still (just) in the green. Its a little late so I am only going to take a small number, maybe one or two, to put into a pot to see how they do. I already have bluebells growing in my garden and I suspect that wild garlic will do just as well (which is to say it will go ballistic, I like my bluebells but its a running battle every year). I will put the pot around my Hekate altar and eventually will plant out around her altar.