Lunch with the cuckoo was special enough, but I had arrived at the Goods Shed just as Enzo was taking the bread from the oven. My loaf was wrapped in a flash and straight in my bag. Back home, I spread it with wild garlic pesto, tomato paste, cheese and olives. Satisfying!
Read NAIB’s account of foraging Welsh wild garlic, below.
Mrs Turnstone is trying to grow some in a shady part of our garden, thanks to a gift from a friend. We’ve allowed ourselves no more than a couple of leaves for salad this year, hoping the patch will spread.
Riding due East into Aylesham my expectations were somewhat confounded. I had expected the gale to be on my back, but it was on my left shoulder, pushing me towards the middle of the road. There was noticeable relief when there was a hedge on the North side of the road, so it was encouraging to see new hawthorn slips bursting green from their rabbit-proof planting tubes. Relief for cyclists and protection for the land. The soil up here is quite thin over the chalk.
More relief when I branched off on the Southern road into the village. The Spinney shields most of this stretch, a woodland with beech, hazel and sweet chestnut. I stopped to sit on a branch and eat lunch. The bluebells are in fine leaf, as are wild arum and anemones, but what of wild garlic? I hadn’t long to search, I had an appointment in the village and I wasted time watching a brimstone butterfly, happy enough to be out of the wind, under the trees, enjoying the sunshine beaming through the bare branches. I found just one leaf, which I nobly left to grow. And I was happy too.
Let’s change that ‘I wasted time’ to ‘I spent time’, while I was watching the butterfly. Time well-spent!
Anticipating Saint John’s Eve, Mrs T and I welcomed NAIB2 and Harry to al fresco lunch under the vine. John may have died because of a drunken promise at a debauched feast; this was a more decorous affair. We did eat lamb in his honour, marinaded in our home-made wild garlic pesto from the Lake District, (see the post, ‘First Forage) with garden herbs, mustard and more (cultivated) garlic, all wrapped in vine leaves to keep it tender.
As evening finally fell, I splashed the bath water onto the plants in pots and thin soil round the house and garden. A warning chuck from a blackbird suggests they are nesting, or at least roosting, in the ivy again. On the way up Abbot’s Hill to Church this morning we had found a greenfinches’ nest fallen from a pine tree, with a blind, half-fledged chick still crawling back into it. The nest was a beautifully crafted bowl of mosses and feathers; the baby doomed; a black cat was watching from the garden wall, an ants’ nest active nearby. Had puss killed the woodmouse a few yards away that the ants were already swarming over?
But just now the pipistrelles were flitting around, snapping up the moths around the lamppost at the corner of the garden. There were plenty of insects at ground level, too, ants, little beetles and bugs, and the spiders were getting active. The snails and slugs were wise not to be out, as Mrs T is at odds with them for eating her new thyme plant. Perhaps she dug it in too close to the hosta, which they’d reduced to a tatter overnight last week. They would be wise to fast for a week or two and lull Mrs T into a false sense of security.
A week of firsts: the first forage: wild garlic; the first preserve: wild garlic pesto with Ashmore cheese; the first harvest from the greenhouse: a dozen rocket leaves; the first local asparagus from the Goods Shed with the first sungold tomatoes!
Here I find myself in Cumbria with family and friends, including Naomi Billingsley, enjoying Cumbrian weather. All that rain makes everything green, including the wild garlic, which has appeared at every meal this holiday! First fruits, not quite, but surely the first forage of the year.