Wild garlic is typically found in moist, European floodplain forests [Photo: iStock.com/wayra]
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) did not belong to the typical garden vegetables for a long time. Today, however, it is once again becoming increasingly popular. Where the name of the spicy early bloomer comes from, is not definitively clear. Some claim that wild garlic, due to its healthy ingredients and early growth, was also eaten by bears after long and barren winters. Others say it gives "bear powers" and has a healing effect. Wild garlic is typically found in moist, European floodplain forests. In this article you will find helpful tips and tricks on how to grow the aromatic herb in your own garden.
Growing wild garlic: The right location
In nature, wild garlic prefers semi-shady places in wet floodplain forests or along streams. These site requirements should also be met in the home garden. In this case, partial shade does not mean that wild garlic grows best on the north side of a hedge or a house, where there is shade all day long. A place with only half-day sunlight is sufficient, such as under large, free-standing trees.
In a semi-shaded location and in a nutrient-rich, humus-rich soil, wild garlic thrives particularly well [Photo: Ivan Marjanovic/ Shutterstock.com]
The wild garlic loves a nutrient-rich and humus-rich soil. In your own garden, it is sufficient to add compost or similar planting substrates when preparing the bed. You should make sure that the soil has a loose structure. Preferably, wild garlic grows on sandy-loamy sites. To simulate the conditions of a forest soil, you can also mix in leaf residues when planting wild garlic. An alkaline to neutral pH in the soil is typical of floodplain forests. In the home garden, you can add a little lime to raise the pH if necessary. You should also keep the location somewhat moist. In particularly dry locations, wild garlic is happy to receive an occasional watering, but watering should not saturate the soil.
The filigree flowers shine in a pure white [Photo: Marinodenisenko/ Shutterstock.com]
If you do not have your own garden, you can also grow your wild garlic plants in pots on the balcony. Here, too, attention should be paid to a semi-shaded location, which you can z.B. By placing wild garlic next to a more vigorous plant can set up. The conditions for the planting bed are very similar to those of growing in your own garden. However, the sole use of compost is sufficient here.
Buy or sow wild garlic plants?
There are two ways to grow wild garlic in the home garden. On the one hand, seedlings can be purchased, on the other hand, wild garlic seeds are available in stores. Seedlings are available in stores for 3 to 5 euros per pot, with one pot usually containing several plants. Seeds are much cheaper: 100 wild garlic seeds to buy are available from 0.99 euros (plus shipping).
Wild garlic can grow like a green sea over the ground [Photo: Till Westermayer – CC BY-SA 2.0]
In the planting or sowing. sowing technique, however, the two cultivation methods differ only slightly. Both prefer the soil conditions described above. Only the depth of planting and the time of cultivation differ. If one decides for the seed plants, then the usually young plants should be set in March, since here also the actual harvest time of the bright green and juicy leaves takes place. For this purpose, the entire plant, including the bulb, should be removed from the pot and planted at a depth of 7 to 10 cm. A distance of 10 cm from the nearest plant is sufficient.
The wild garlic is a cold germinator. If you decide to sow wild garlic, you must sow the seeds in the fall or stratify them beforehand in the freezer (activate germination). If you decide to sow the seeds directly, this should be done in the fall to guarantee the seeds sufficient soil frost. The depth of the deposit should be 3 to 5 cm. Here, too, 10 cm distance from the nearest seed is sufficient.
Propagate wild garlic
Wild garlic is a very robust wild species. After a few years, the plants should propagate themselves via scattering. After the blooming of the wild garlic in April, the ripening begins and the leaves of the plant dry up. In late May to early June, the seeds are ripe and fall to the ground. Here they remain in dormancy until winter frosts activate them so they can germinate again the next spring.
Attention: It may happen that the seeds germinate only in the second year after sowing, because the conditions in winter were not suitable to break dormancy.
Alternatively, you can also propagate wild garlic through the bulbs. To do this, the wild garlic bulbs must be dug up and divided. The divided bulb is fully germinable and should be replanted elsewhere at a depth of 7 to 10 inches.
Notice: Leave some space for your wild garlic when propagating, as the stand will become denser over time anyway.
Wild garlic can be propagated either by seed or the bulb [Photo: Kuzmalo/ Shutterstock.com]
The main steps of propagation briefly summarized:
Propagation by seed
- Seeds ripen in late May/early June
- Spread by sowing (in autumn at the latest!) or self-sprinkling
- Dormancy is interrupted by frost in winter
- germination next spring
Propagation through bulbs
- Digging and dividing wild garlic bulbs
- Dig both halves back in (7-10 cm placement depth)
- Leave enough space to the neighboring plant
Harvesting wild garlic
Wild garlic is an aromatic seasoning herb whose leaves offer a variety of uses. The leaves are tastiest when they are still young and juicy. The best time to harvest is in mid-March. The leaves of wild garlic here still have a light green color, are juicy and full of nutrients. The longer you wait, the more fibrous and darker the leaves become. By April, the leaves may have already lost much of their aroma and developed a bitter taste, as wild garlic is about to bloom. Before harvesting your wild garlic for the first time, you should wait for the first flowering to ensure a continuation of the stand by self-seeding. In the following years, up to half of the wild garlic can then be harvested to ensure stable propagation and maintenance of the plant population.
The best time to harvest wild garlic is mid-March [Photo: Simon Kadula/ Shutterstock.com]
The cultivation of wild garlic at a glance:
- Find a suitable location
- Amend the soil with substrate (if necessary). liming)
- Loosen the soil
- sow wild garlic (in autumn) or plant wild garlic (in spring)
- Harvesting wild garlic (mid-March)
Preserve wild garlic
Since wild garlic can only be harvested in a relatively short time window, it is important to store it properly. Below we explain how you can enjoy your tasty wild garlic long after the harvest:
- Store wild garlic fresh : Unfortunately, when fresh, wild garlic can only be stored for a few days. To do this, it should be wrapped in a damp cloth or put in a slightly moistened freezer bag in the refrigerator.
- Drying wild garlic : You can also store your self-harvested wild garlic dried, but in the process of drying the characteristic flavors are lost and also the valuable nutrients evaporate to a large extent. We do not recommend this method of storage.
- Freezing wild garlic: If you want to use your harvest for a longer period of time, you should freeze the wild garlic. For this purpose the leaves should be cut or. be chopped and placed in a freezer container. The wild garlic can now be frozen directly. In addition, you can also pour water over the wild garlic and then freeze it for better portioning.
- Processing wild garlic : Another and good way to preserve wild garlic is to process it directly. This can happen in the form of a delicious pesto or oil.
Collect wild garlic: Search for your own seedlings in the forest
Instead of buying seedlings in stores, you can of course go out and collect wild wild garlic yourself. Be careful here, though, as the plants can be infected with fox tapeworms. It is therefore advisable to cook the wild garlic before consumption.
In damp forests, wild garlic is often found along roadsides [Photo: julianoSK/ Shutterstock.com]
Picking wild garlic is not prohibited, but a decline in wild populations can be observed. When collecting the bear’s leek should therefore be conscientious, so as not to overstretch the stocks. If you want to pick wild garlic, you would be well advised to find out about the nature of the ground before searching for it. In forests that grow on calcareous rock, particularly large quantities of wild garlic are to be expected. Especially at the foot of slopes you can hope for a good catch, because here larger amounts of lime are accumulated by the water flowing down and thus provide a high pH value in the soil, which the wild garlic loves.
Wild garlic can easily be confused with the poisonous lily of the valley or autumn crocus. Here are 13 differences between wild garlic, lily of the valley and autumn crocus to avoid confusion.