Garlic is a multipurpose medicinal herb with antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, no wonder Dracula was scared of it! What better way to purge any lingering bugs (and possibly your neighbours) than with a hefty bowl of wild garlic soup.
Wild Garlic >>
Unlike bulb garlic which stores well, wild garlic has a relatively short season since we usually just consume the leaves. My Thai relative, Siri, got so excited when she saw it growing by the stream here that she desperately wanted to take some back for her garden since they use the roots in lots of Thai dishes; I adamantly refused! There is a fabulous dish of twice cooked pork using wild garlic stems in ‘Every Grain of Rice’, a brilliantly, simple Chinese cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop – which female gardener doesn’t covet that name? If you see ‘Ransoms’ for sale on the internet it is wild garlic and resist buying since planting it would soon take over most of your garden. Simply find a local stream with a good supply – the smell will direct you to it; indeed it took me many years to go anywhere near it having suffered badly with morning sickness at this time of year. Dog walks down by the river in Gloucestershire often found me heaving in the bushes!
WILD GARLIC SOUP >>
2 onions, finely chopped
500g potatoes, peeled & finely sliced with a mandolin
1 litre veg/chicken stock
200g wild garlic leaves, tough stems removed
4tbsp. double cream
Chopped chives to serve.
Sauté the chopped onion in the butter for 5 minutes until soft, add the stock and sliced potatoes and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the wild garlic leaves and simmer gently for another 5 minutes then puree the soup and season to taste. Pour a swirl of double cream into each bowl when serving and top with chives.
WILD GARLIC PESTO FOR SPRING PASTA >>
This is a brilliant way of preserving the flavours for use at any time of the year – freeze tablespoons in an ice cube tray and defrost throughout the year.
150ml olive oil
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, chopped
200g wild garlic leaves, tough stems removed
100g pine nuts or cashew nuts
100g parmesan, grated
1tsp caster sugar
Sauté the spring onions and garlic gently in 3 tbsp. of the olive oil for about 3 minutes, then whizz up in a blender with all the rest of the ingredients. Either freeze in ice cube trays or pot into sterilised jars – pour extra olive oil over the top of the pesto if it is in jars to keep it fresh in the fridge for about 1 month.
Use 250g dried pasta, 125g petit pois, 125g asparagus spears and 6 tbsp. wild garlic pesto for a quick and easy supper of spring pasta.
Jobs to sort:
- Buy British Asparagus – take a look at britishasparagus.com for some great recipes. If you fancy starting your own asparagus bed look out for any ‘reduced price’ asparagus crowns that didn’t sell in spring. An asparagus bed needs to be in full sun, not sited in a frost pocket, and most importantly have well drained soil or even be a raised bed filled with sand. If you plant asparagus crowns now (rather than sow from seed) you can harvest them fully after two years. One word of advice though: cover with a double layer of horticultural fleece in January to protect against any late frost damage since this can be a problem this far North.
- Sow, sow, sow vegetable seeds outside – I cannot stress this strongly enough. One growing day in June is worth two in July since the nights get longer so get the majority of your veg growing now, especially winter veg: purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero etc. A couple of veg NOT TO SOW now are spinach and Florence fennel; both start to flower on the longest days, so wait until 21 June has passed and your crop will take you through till spring without bolting.
- Harvest asparagus, pea tips, radish, baby turnips, pak choi and the lettuce.
- Get hold of an NGS (National Garden Scheme) Little Yellow Booklet – a rare opportunity to visit some wonderful gardens in the North East and raise money for charity. Many of these gardens are private and only open for one day and there are some stunners in the region! So if you fancy some inspiration, afternoon tea and perhaps the chance to purchase some lovely plants…
UPCOMING COURSES AT LINNELS FARM
FRIDAY 4 MAY
RACHEL RODDY COOKERY DEMO
Join Rachel for a close up of how to bring some Italian warmth into our cooking. She will share some simple, everyday recipes that emerge from two distant but connected kitchens in Sicily and Rome.
2pm – 3.30pm, £25.
FRIDAY 18 MAY
STEFFI KNOWLES-DELLNER COOKERY DEMO
Steffi is a Swedish cooker writer; her blog, Always So Hungry, was recently highlighted as one of the UK’s top food blogs. Her new book Lagom is a simple and elegant representation of true Swedish cooking.
Limited spaces. 2pm – 3.30pm, £25.
THURSDAY 24 MAY
VEG GROWING PART 2 – ALL YEAR ROUND
Grow the same thing each year? Expand your repertoire and have vegetables to harvest over a longer season avoiding the summer holiday gluts. This course covers different growing methods and utilises new varieties of seed and plants to prolong the short growing season in Northumberland.
Includes morning coffee/cakes and lunch, £90.
FRIDAY 25 MAY
THE TOWN GARDENER
Don’t let the size of your plot limit your creativity. Choose plants that earn their keep and learn low maintenance ideas to create colour and impact in a small place. Discover the multitude of plants and methods of dining the changes in even the smallest garden.
Includes morning coffee/cakes and a two-course lunch, £85.
TUESDAY 19 JUNE
WILLOW WORKSHOP WITH PHIL BRADLEY
Back by popular demand, Phil will instruct you on how to weave your very own ‘farm animal’ from willow. Depart with completed sculpture.
Includes morning coffee/cakes and a two-course lunch, £100.