Alrighty, it’s about time to give you guys an update! We have turned our backs on Whistler a while ago and headed to Vancouver Island instead. This Canadian gem is also referred to as THE ISLAND. This nickname makes a whole lot of sense considering the fact that it’s freaking gorgeous and almost half the size of Germany… We found a host over HelpX, a network that works similarly as Workaway or WWOF. What these three platforms have in common is that they connect international travellers and locals. Why? The deal is to volunteer a few hours per day (farm work, household chores, childcare, …) in return for food and accommodation. This allows low-budget travellers to get to know a variety of local projects and well, the hosts get affordable temporary workers in return. This can be extremely helpful during harvest times for instance. Cultural exchange at its best, we’d say 😊
On the ferry to Vancouver Island. We’re looking forward to new adventures!
Trust me: You won’t regret learning some basics about edible plants if you’re into the whole outdoor-thing. This skill just adds so many great flavours, vitamins and minerals to your bland camping food. We loved coming across yummy greens and always paused long enough to gather a few handfuls of them. In Val Grande, we found and used the following plants (I suppose they will grow in other parts of the Alps as well):
- blackberries and wild strawberries (Brombeeren & Walderdbeeren)
- aromatic, thick cushions of thyme and oregano (Thymian & Oregano)
- water mint (Wasserminze)
- shaggy soldier (Franzosenkraut)
- bear’s garlic (Bärlauch) – yes, it’s actually too late for this delicacy. Lucky us that spring often lacks behind in the mountains!
- St. John’s Wort (Johanniskraut)
- yarrow (Schafsgarbe)
- goldenrod (Goldrute)
- lady’s mantle (Frauenmantel)
- cow parsley (Wiesen-Kerbel)
- caraway (Wiesen-Kümmel)
- cow parsnip (Wiesen-Bärenklau)
- wood sorrel (Sauerklee)
- ribwort and wide plantain (Spitz- und Breitwegerich)
- ground elder (Giersch)
- loads of stinging nettle (Brennnessel)
Wow, I’m only realizing now that this is quite a long list. And indeed, we had fresh greens in our dinner pretty much every night and on very lucky days sweet berries in our morning porridge. Oh how my little, nerdy, botanical heart wished that my identification key wasn’t such a bulky, heavy bitch… There were so many more plants I simply didn’t know! Gimme a shout if you know a good app, I haven’t found one yet (however, I can recommend the website Wildfind).
Sebastian is eating some wood sorrel
preparing dinner: lentil-stew with mixed wild greens
it was sooo yummie!
oregano in bloom
what a treat: wild blackberries!
collecting stinging netttle – if you know how to handle them you don’t need gloves!
washing our herbs
we used wild thyme in most of our dinners
Just like the stinging nettle, the ground elder (aka “goutweed” but I don’t like this name because in my nerdy opinion there is no such thing as “weeds” …) is just as well-known as it is undervalued. In fact, gardeners absolutely HATE it. Why? The ground elder spreads rapidly and seems to be immortal. Like really and truly immortal. There are a million suggestions on how to get rid of it on the internet and most don’t seem to work. The ground elder always comes back and will soon cover most of your garden, taking room and light from the other plants.
Which is just another reason why I suggest a change of perspective: Stop weeding, start harvesting! Plus, the ground elder is a little power pack. True local superfood.
Oh, how much I love spring! It always arrives a little later in Berlin than in some other German regions, but by now, there is fresh green everywhere. And since deep down I’m a little nerdy botanist, this excites me very much. It’s time to collect – and eat – wild herbs again! And it’s time to dust this blog and feed it with some new (yet long planned) content about edible plants.
So today, I’d like to introduce you to the so called ‘few-flowered leek/garlic’ (German: “Wunderlauch” oder “Berliner Bärlauch”). If you don’t pay it a second glance, it’s easy to mistake this delicious plant for lilies of the valley or some good old juicy bunch of grass. But you’re missing out! The few-flowered leek could be considered as the little sister of the well-known bear’s garlic and is therefore also an early bloomer. However, this type of wild onion is actually NOT a native plant in Europe but has its origin in Middle Asia and Caucasian regions. Nowadays, it can be found in lush carpets here in Berlin-Brandenburg and other parts of Europe as well. Seriously, at a good spot, you can harvest whole bags of it within a few minutes.
So how to identify it?