These blogs are increasingly a space for me to document the progress we make moving to our 11 acre woodland in Wales, bought earlier this year and close to Builth Wells in Powys.
Two-three acres of our "plot" is open, scrubby land (with the odd caravan dumped here and there) where we hope to have a modest smallholding and build a house. Most of the remaining 8ish acres is ancient woodland and carpeted with dog's mercury, wood anemones, opposite-leaved golden saxifrage and ramsons... also known as wild garlic... everywhere. It's growing in a few places where we may need to clear it, on paths for example (see below), and as it spreads so effectively and prolifically we had the idea that it could be a way for us to generate a small income from the land, which is key to us being able to live there with the One Planet Development Scheme.
So, I decided to undertake a bit of an experiment, a trial run to see if people wanted to buy a little piece of this beautiful, ancient woodland in a way that is sustainable for us and the wood.
I gave it a bit of a plug on Instagram and Facebook and had an incredible response, I sold 800 bulbs! I kept the pre-orders open for about three weeks, until the last day of a short trip to the woodland. I cleared some rusty old poly tunnels in the morning and after lunch I started the harvest. I headed for the path where they are thick on the ground and soon realised that beneath all that wild garlic were a lot of stones and digging there was a much bigger and more difficult job than I had anticipated. I started again a bit further down where the natural spring flows from the top of the wood down to the river. It was easier here but the bulbs were incredibly deep rooted and suddenly 800 bulbs seemed extremely daunting. Four and a half hours later I was covered head to toe in mud and finally finished. I nervously packed the bulbs and their reasonably delicate leaves into two large bags and into an Ikea bag.
Eric was on a chainsaw maintenance course in the area for the rest of the week so I had to travel back on the train carrying the wild garlic with me. The idea of this was very appealing as I love travelling by train and will probably take this train a few times over the next year so I was looking forward to taking in the beautiful countryside and doing some knitting. I was however starting to get a bit nervous about lugging this giant heavy bag of stinky garlic on a 4 hour train journey.
In the end it was all fine and I got it all home safely. The next hurdle was packing the orders into boxes of large letter dimensions which I thought would be fine but hadn't imagined the bulbs and their leaves would be quite so long. 6 hours of carefully sorting, wrapping in moist recycled kitchen towel and compostable bags then gently bending them into the boxes, two trips to the post office and I was done. I could finally relax when I started to get lots of lovely feedback as people began to receive their wild garlic and get it safely into pots and shady areas of their gardens.
I sent out a small booklet I'd created containing recipe ideas and the many health benefits that wild garlic provides:
Wild garlic is great to eat in the Spring after a long Winter to cleanse the blood, improve circulation and improve heart function. With better circulation, our skin, memory, eyesight and health in general is improved.
It is also one of the best remedies for stomach complaints such as irritable bowel and most gut issues. It is anti bacterial and anti-fungal.