I have to admit, I’ve been taking it pretty easy on the Forest School front. I’ve been out exploring different woods, looking more closely and occasionally dipping into my portfolio.
My current focus is unit 1 (always a good place to begin), which is all about the woodland environment. So, of course I need to get out there, play and experience what I’m learning, not just sit and look at Google. I’ve even been climbing up trees and falling out of them. Too bad I’ve not reached the risk assessments section yet!
“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein
Back in the land of the portfolio, I’ve been learning about the different structures of British woodland. Even as a relatively outdoorsy person, I’ve been totally oblivious to the ecology of it all! I’ve been doing lots of reading and research into the key areas and my partner Ryan has been helping to identify plants and consolidate things while we are out and about.
There have been many flashbacks to GCSE Geography while studying the vertical layers of woodland. It turns out that British woodland is very different to rainforests and they certainly don’t have lianas (Tarzan vines). I’ve learned that it’s broken up into four layers – the canopy layer, understorey or shrub layer, herb or field layer and the ground layer. However, more on that another time! There is one particular plant, that is found in the field or herb layer, that I’d like to share with you.
The foragers amongst you may already be familiar with the absolute delight that is wild garlic. It can be found in shady, damp spots in deciduous woodland from early Spring until May. You certainly can’t miss it, just walking through the woods you will soon catch a whiff of the garlicky aroma.
The spear shaped leaves and later the white flowers are also easy to identify but could be mistaken for the poisonous lily of the valley. To check, gently crush a leaf and the wild garlic should give off an unmistakable garlicky onion smell. To harvest, gently pick a couple of leaves off each plant, this will ensure it grows again next year. Wild garlic is often sprawling so there will be plenty to choose from.
Wild garlic leaves have a more subtle taste than the garlic bulbs that you may be more familiar with. The leaves are incredibly versatile to cook with as they can be eaten raw in a salad, whizzed into pesto or added to a stir fry, to name just a few uses! It’s also incredibly good for you.
Wild Garlic Pizza
Two weeks ago we went to Ilam in the Peak District for a weekend walk in the sun and were excited to smell the garlic in the air. Luckily we had a spare bag on us so we could stock up! Ryan got to work straight away while I munched happily on the leaves – another name for wild garlic is actually ‘stinking Jenny’. How fitting.
As soon as we got home I was begging Ryan to make garlic bread to snack on. I was far too impatient to wait for a fancy loaf of bread so we opted for a quick and easy pizza base, coated with wild garlic pesto and cheese. So stinky and so delicious!