April is national garlic month
Maria works for Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming on Growing Health and The Crunch Ambassadors programme. She is project co-ordinator of the Wild Cat Wilderness , a community green space project in Catford and qualified horticultural therapist working with the charity Stepping Stones with adults with learning disabilities.
Not only do we start to see the first bulb garlic coming through but wild garlic is in season. In urban settings you might find the tri cornered leek variety (above left) but normally out of town you will find broad leaved ransoms . You will also often find ransoms in your veg bag at this time of year and sometimes in your stir-fry bag from Martin from Ripple Farm in Kent.
Ransoms favour damp, shady locations so river banks in a wooded area is often a good place to forage. Its sounds obvious but wild garlic is distinctive because of its garlicky smell so this will ensure you don’t confuse it with other plants. As you walk through a carpet of it the smell can be overwhelming.
Wild garlic is milder than the regular bulb type and you can use the leaves, stems, buds, flowers and bulbs and just substitute it for bulb garlic in any recipe but just use more. Wild garlic makes great pesto and soup . I used the unopened buds to stud some lamb I was roasting and the taste was amazing. I am also pickling the unopened buds like capers so I can use them later. For some great recipes I recommend Robin Harford’s website www.eatweeeds.co.uk
If you want to grow your own bulb garlic then buy some seed garlic (rather then use a shop bought one) and get planting, as April is the latest you can plant them.