Normally Leek season is well underway by the end of April here in Southern Ontario. This year though, we have had unseasonably cold temperatures and lots of late snows. This can put the start of leak season in question. In an effort to try and determine at what stage the leeks were at, I decided to take a trip to a friends farm in search of these pungent edibles. Ever curious, my young daughter decided she wanted to come along with Da Da to see what all the fuss was about. Armed with her favourite hat and a garden trowel we took the drive out to the farm and set out to explore.
Our first foray into the woods found a large patch of trout lilies. Although not what we were looking for, trout lilies are considered edible by some, albeit slightly emetic if consumed in large quantities.
We picked a few bunches for a small salad.
Our trip continued to a different section of woods. One that contained hardwood trees and southern exposure. Sure enough, these characteristics, coupled with soft, dark, and rich loamy soil makes for an almost sure bet for finding Leeks.
Of course Lorelei had to take a turn at digging.
Then she got tired and decided to take a break on a nearby rock to watch Dada pick a few more.
As a reminder, foragers should only harvest a few stalks from each cluster to preserve the colony for future harvests. These plants take a while to replenish so they are very susceptible to overharvesting. Be conservative now to ensure a life time of picking in the future.
Lots of other interesting spring plant life to see including spring beauties and mushroom life.
So for all those wondering what is up with the Leeks this year, they are out but its still early. Some have yet to reach their full size. Give it another week or two and things will really be underway.
Ontario is blessed with foragable wild foods for almost every season. The least of which is definitely not Spring. Spring in Ontario, means some of the finest table fare can be gathered including leeks, fiddle heads, cattail hearts and morels.
Finding most of these treasures can be difficult as they are heavily dependant on temperature, sufficient rain and their ability to hide from other foragers! Thankfully leeks are one of the easiest to spot due to the stark contrast of their green on the brown hue of last years fallen leaves. Leeks are also very plentiful in Ontario and can often been seen after the first couple weeks of 10 – 15 degree weather. Just remember when looking for leeks early on, the contrasting green is the key. They are one of the first plants to sprout. Also, you will probably smell the delicious onion odour a mile a way!
*****Please keep in mind when you are harvesting wild leeks it is best to only remove one or two leeks from a cluster or, more preferably, clip off the green and leave the bulb in the ground. This way they will continue to proliferate in the area. Consider it an investment for next year!
My recent foraging trip saw me getting up at 5:30, heading out my door at 6:00, stopping quickly at Tim’s on highway 15 and blasting up Sydenham Road by 6:15.
I met with a friend of mine at a favourite spot about an hour north of Kingston. Set with bags, a large bladed knife for digging leeks and our trout gear (cause you never know when a fishing oppourtunity will present itself), we headed up the trail with eyes focused on the ground in search of green gold. I guess it was by chance then that my friend spotted a decent sized Barred Owl perched on a nearby pine.
Quite the specimen! Further down the trail, and after some failed attempts at some speckles in a few local lakes, we found the spot we were looking for and began our harvest.
Lots of leeks to be had but no sign of any other forageables. Lots of signs of spring and remnants from last winter. I am always impressed by how fresh and stunning Southern Ontario looks in the spring. Not to mention how tasty it can be too! More on this once I have cooked a few of these tasty guys into a soup or two.