Ramsons & Sunchokes

Scrap Kitchen 09

In the aftermath of last nights Aries new moon, the energy would really start to pick up. Now is when spring starts to build; plans, plants, protests and whatever you set your heart on. Use this fiery energy and make April your bitch.

One month into moving to Colorado and I’m mostly adapted to the alpine air, still in a love-hate relationship with the cycling and some cows have just moved in next door. Once again I am in a place of transition, as one flatmate moves out and two new ones move it. In planting, we are moving away from Solanaceae (tomatoes/ peppers/ aubergine) and into Cucurbita (cucumbers/ squash/ courgette/ pumpkins), the fields are starting to fill and plans for the next few months are taking shape.

This week’s tarot is the Wheel of Fortune in reverse. Upright and reversed, it signifies the inevitability of change, here there may be a resistance too. Think of it as a wheel stuck in a rut, needing a little push to get out. Ask yourself: What are you resistant to learn from? How does this lesson keep popping up for you? How can you break the cycle? What happens when you change your course?

As April begins to pick up the pace, Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) will now be easily spotted. I talked in one of my earlier Scrap Kitchen posts about Three Cornered Leeks (Allium triquetrum), wild garlic (also known as Ramsons) falls within the same family. It has a few less than edible counterparts including Lords and Ladies and Lily of the Valley, but can easily be distinguished by its distinctive onion smell. When harvesting this relatively common plant try to leave the roots alone, cutting off only the leaves and making sure you don’t include any other unexpected leaves in your harvest. There are a whole host of recipes for Ramsons, in most cases, it can be used as a replacement for traditional garlic but Bhajis, homemade Mayo and even Focaccia have caught my eye.

In my own foraging forays, I have accidentally managed to make something dandelion based and alcoholic. The aim was to make a simple syrup. Since I was planning on holding off on making dandelion wine until we are in the full season for it, this experiment with fermentation will be burped, fed a little more honey and watched carefully. After a methanol incident with gorse wine during lockdown, I am planning on being a little more cautious with my creations this year. But so far it’s bubbly, delicious and maybe one day will resemble mead?

Sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes are coming into season. These are gold for any scrap gardener, they can be found in shops/ oddboxes etc in early spring or late autumn. Those are also the perfect times to plant them out. They even do well up to two months before the last frost. If you have forgotten about some and can see they are starting to grow they can be directly planted. If you acquire some, leave a couple of tubers half-submerged in soil for a week or two and see if any “eyes” form. This is where the stems will bud from. Plant them out with enough space for the tubers to multiply but be warned, once panted they are really hard to get rid of. These bastards can easily take over, delicious as they may be, make sure you want them. Or alternatively, plant them in a large pot or grow bag, this will not only keep them isolated but can help with harvesting. I have seen some amazing DIY’s of people planting potatoes in old laundry hampers and this technique will probably work quite well for Sunchokes too. With about 4 months until maturity they should be ready in autumn, but not before they have shot up several feet of foliage and flowers. When the flowers bloom it will be clear to see that they are a relative of sunflowers. Also, they are super easy to grow, just needing the occasional weeding.

When cooking, they are a prime replacement for potatoes and require basically the same methods of preparation. The only difference is they are much worse for storage. Funnily enough, the best place to store your sunchokes is in the ground until you are ready to eat them, so planting ones on the edge of inedible is the best way to reduce waste. Once dug up or acquired, I would suggest making a breakfast hash (where they are swapped for potato), this creamy side dish, this mind-bending galette or this pasta to die for. As with all the recipes I suggest, there is always room for interpretation. Using them as a baseline can make it much easier to figure out what to do with what you have in the cupboard, it certainly doesn’t mean you have to rush out and buy a specific type of pasta. Spinach, avocado and asparagus are coming into play, most of which are featured in each of the recipes mentioned. But for more inspiration, a fan-favourite is this choco-avo-mousse. Fruit-wise storing the seasons citrus and kiwi could be done through dehydration, here is a great guide for getting started with that type of preservation.

There is so much to talk about this week. The eruption of the volcano off the coast of St Vincent, forest fires in the Himalayas and the passing of a dusty old racist. #PeatFreeApril is also ongoing, highlighting the reliance of commercial greenhouses and plant retailers on the destruction of Peat Bogs. For a longer read check out the RHS on why and how to go peat-free and for up-to-date garden decolonisation, follow this amazing Instagram.

This week’s podcast is another from my wonderful friend Michelle of The Catmaste Chronicles. It’s an amazing interview with Wilfred Emmanuel Jones 'The Black Farmer’ that delves into dyslexia, racism and the farming industry.

As always I would love it if you could leave a comment, like or even share this post if you have learnt something. Or if you have any reflections on the information shared.

Stay Scrappy,

Magda



Image Credit: Corina Rainer, Pascal Debrunner and Marcin Bajer

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If you missed last weeks’ update, Read it here.