It’s officially Winter in Australia. We are, however, in Italy where it’s officially Summer! It’s super strange being on the other side of the world where it is the exact opposite season, and also knowing that soon we will return to the depths of winter.
Here we have been taking in so much inspiration from the wild around us, from all that spring brought and all that is early summer. We have been discovering new varieties of familiar food plants, learning how to identify new varieties of wild plants and witnessing new ways to grow. There is always more to learn.
GROW / GATHER
Two of our new favourite plants, inspired by the wild here in Italy. Look out for them or plant them from seed this spring.
There are so many weed-varieties of onion and garlic. We forage ‘onion-grass’—young wild onion tops—in the fields every autumn on our way to the pine forests to hunt for wild mushrooms. These young tops make for a fantastic wild herb. Then, in spring, we are back on the lookout again for the tiny white flowers of the wild onions, so that we can pull up the lot, and feast on the young bulbs that bring such earthy, pungent flavour to our spring dishes alongside our wild Morel mushrooms.
Wild garlic is also prolific here on the hillsides of Sardinia in early summer, and the slightly smaller bulbs are packed with as much flavour as their larger, cultivated cousins. It’s a good lesson for us in the garden that both onion and garlic, and in fact the whole allium family, are just as fantastic to harvest at every stage of their growth to enjoy in any savoury dish. So plant extra alliums this season and enjoy their pungent flavours year-round, not just when it’s time to harvest the mature bulbs.
We’ve been growing salad burnet in our garden on-and-off for years, mainly for the good-bug-attracting powers of its small purple flowers and the wonderful scent its leaves give off when disturbed. But it has been a joy over here to witness it growing in wild abundance amongst the wild fennel and Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot). Salad burnet is a super simple plant to grow. It is a perennial plant once established, very tolerant of dry conditions and very hardy in general. So find yourself some seeds and plant some salad burnet sometime this coming spring to late summer and you will not only be attracting all the good bugs and making your garden smell lovely, but you will also have a delicious new herb to harvest with a taste somewhere between parsley and cucumber, fantastic in salads, and wonderful on your morning eggs!
Happy growing :)
Staples are awesome year round, but in winter they are especially great, as you spend more time indoors and have less variety coming from nature. Here are two of our favourites.
We have stayed in so many little villages on our trip and as always feel inspired by the way the people live here, with so many of these villages holding some of the longest living people on Earth. Here is a taste of what we have seen, of their lifestyles, of their secrets.
- They don’t do breakfast, or if they do it’s something super small
- They do big dinners
- Community is a big deal and family is the heart of it all
- They meet in the afternoons, to chat, to sit, to drink, to eat
- Saturday night is always “festa” (party) night
- In many places “siesta” is a thing. Stores close at 1:30pm – reopening around 5pm