Current Release

Current Release
The Warrior's Viking Bride

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wild garlic and stinging nettles

The wild garlic is up. It has been for several days but yesterday was the first day that I really considered using it. Wild garlic and potato soup is a good combo. Wild garlic always reminds me of spring and old woods.
The white anemones (another indication of an old wood) are nearly out in the dene. Therefore, I suspect the wood has been there awhile. The bluebells will be out soon and the scillas are providing a blue haze. The daffodils remain in bloom and the poet's eyes leaves are up. In other words, Spring is advancing.
The other thing I noticed yesterday in the garden was the stinging nettles. The stinging nettles are only making clumps at the moment and I can kid myself that maybe this year, I will be able to get on top of them...or they won't be so bad.
Now is the time to use stinging nettles in cooking. Nettle soup is fine. Nettles are a versatile plant. If you wash the young nettles and then blanch them in boiling water, there is no problem with being stung. But do use gloves to collect as their sting can be quite fierce.
Nettles taste a bit like gritty spinach. And yes, it does beg the question...But they do have lots of vitamin C. I have used nettles in the past -- nettle souffle, nettle pasta and nettle soup. the children are not that fond of nettles. They prefer spinach...
Stinging nettles are found where there has been human habitation. Some times, they are used to determine previously used sites.
In very poor regions including Scotland, there was a tradition of weaving with nettles. Think the fairy tale -- the Wild Swans. It makes a linen type cloth. Rather than the young nettles that you use for cooking, it is the old stalks. Theses are soaked and the fibres extracted. I have never tried spinning and weaving nettles, but was intrigued to learn as I have always loved the fairy tale about the king's daughter whose brothers were turned to swans.
Nettles are also good for making into plant food. Dunk a bag of nettles into a water butt and leave. Then dilute for use on plants. And they are an important source of food for butterflies. Hence, why you should leave a clump or two -- this is not a problem in my garden.
But at the moment, I do fondly think that somehow, I will be able to get on top of the nettles and the brambles. The garden is coming on and the trees are growing, but come a few weeks, the nettles will be knee high once again...
Duck update:
When thinking about the nettles and wild garlic, I realised that there was now a huge gap between the bottom of the water gate and the stream bed. I was all for fixing it this morning when the ducks were safely in bed. BUT my dh insisted we did this yesterday afternoon. He thought he had herded all the ducks back from the neighbour's garden, BEFORE fixing the gate. Uh no. One male duck remained and we attempted to catch it but it eluded us in the ruined gloom that is the neighbour's part of the dene. Hopefully, I and my eldest will be able to catch it this morning. My eldest was at work at the castle last evening.
My Viking first draft is nearly finished.


Carol Townend said...

Hi Michelle,
I love your nature notes! We really miss the country, living in London. We escape sometimes at week-ends and of course go to Kew Gardens and (most days) for walks by the river, but it is not the same! However, the vixen who lives behind the hedge at the bottom of our garden (where the Tube is) has had her cubs. Yesterday, the cutest one imaginable was tottering about. It is soooo tiny, almost blonde in colour. I love it now, but later in the year when it has grown and is yelping outside the bedroom window...not so sure about that!
Best wishes

liz fenwick said...

Nettles- my first experience with them was on my first date with my now husband. Unforgetable - both :-)