Saturday, May 13, 2017

Wild Leeks

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Last week as I walked down to the shade garden that I built seventeen years ago, I noticed the patch of wild leeks that had  grown from a couple plants I dug out of the river bank  not that far from the current flower farm. At the time, I was more intent on trout fishing than thinking about a relocated flower farm but I couldn't help but notice the assortment of wild flowers and other plants that lined the Winooski River that day. I caught trout, watched ducks fly by and remember a mink that walked close by wondering what I was doing.

The leeks as well as wild onions are well documented in a wonderful story written by Charles Fish and published by University of Vermont Press in 2006. In the Land of the Wild Onion: Travels Along Vermont's Winooski River describes the river so well it almost seems as if you can hear the strokes of a canoe paddle as you turn the pages.

Wild leeks have all the culinary opportunities their domestic relatives share with us but their flavors are stronger and their size much smaller.  The bulbs can be sliced and dried and stored in the freezer or in a jar until needed. The curing offers a deceiving process whereby the starches mature and the initial flavor is much sweeter than the fresh leeks but the onion flavor is no less there.

So if you have some time, read the book, walk the river and harvest a few wild leeks. The native Vermonters called the Winooski the Onion River because of the prevalence of this plant. As you walk the river for pleasure or for trout fishing as I first did, you will doubtless smell the onions long before you see them. Enjoy!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond on a morning of  40 degrees, thickening clouds, flowering shad trees, a promised high of 50 and an afternoon of heavy rain that we really do not need. Be well!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
And always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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