Cross-posted at the Wild Cookery! Forum.
Well I woke up to Winter’s last gasp this morning.
Last year this time we had mid 70’s weather and I was picking 6 inch wild garlic greens, along with dandelions and some plantains.
This year? Well the ground was ALMOST unfrozen when I walked on it yesterday. Almost. Kinda almost, but not quite, squishy, yet still frozen crunchy. Well, today it’s frozen solid again. But now it’s supposed to warm up to a high of 36 before creeping back down to a low of 25 overnight.
Currently, it’s a balmy 33 degrees.
With a several inch glazing of fluffy snow.
There’s supposed to be even more snow on the way. We’ll see I suppose.
In my walk yesterday I saw that my hyacinths were barely poked up as were the daffodils, but only in the planter right next to the house, where it’s warmer. The ones in the main yard are still not even above the lawn yet.
There is a very marked difference from year to year. Which is why I always and very strongly encourage people to get used to paying attention to their weather when it comes to wild plants. Screw what your foraging book says about ‘time of year’ on the plant tables. Pay attention to what your local weather is doing.
As I said, last year, I was harvesting half a foot tall wild garlic greens and decent sized dandelions in 70 to 80 degree days. This year? Everything is still winter-purple colored as the alcohol in the leaves hasn’t changed back into sugar yet. You don’t want those over-wintered leaves anyway. Leave those for the critter. What you want is the new spring growth, and that simply hasn’t happened yet. AT ALL. Not even the wild mustards or the garlic mustards have poked their heads up yet. (Other than the garlic mustard that have over-wintered, which is normal, but again, you want the new and rapid spring growth.)
My pet dandelion on my windowsill is looking out into the yard, with sad leaves and yearning for sunnier days. It’s hard to see a size comparison from the photo, but the leaves are about eight to nine inches long, and he’s survived fine all winter on the windowsill. I grew him from a tiny little root shard from a dandelion that I’d collected about two years back now. He hasn’t bloomed yet, just puts on very nice looking leaves. I don’t eat this one. It’s my winter ‘greenery’ to look at and enjoy, when all else in the world is dead and frosted over.
So, here’s a toast to winter’s dying g(r)asp, and may all of us in the northern areas finally have some green to forage soon! Slainte Mhor!