Yummie, Snails!


Snails were  introduced to the British isles with the Romans, as food source. So along with paternalistic sexism, straight roads and socks we can thank them for snails. The British Isles has lovely climate for snails, wet, not cold with plenty of vegetable gardeners to annoy. They don’t eat as much slugs, and I have found I can tolerate a reasonable population in my garden, without the large loses that slugs can inflict. There is several other species of snail like the banded and sandhill which are smaller and stripy, that although relatives of which like the chocolate snails are eaten in Europe the species found here aren’t edible. We wild food to make up for the knowledge through the industrialisation of people.  I have tried eating banded snails, and they had a seriously unpleasant texture. Slugs aren’t edible either, they cook up into a mucusy goo.

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Japanese Wine Berries

These are delightful little berries – heavy cropping and with a sweet sour taste to them. Thoroughly recommended if you want something slightly different from raspberries or blackberries. This is the second batch this summer; the first one at the beginning of July ; this one the beginning of August.


Ramsons, Ramsons Everywhere

We had to pop down to the area around Swansea for a quick visit. The place was carpeted with wild garlic. Walking though the woods it even smelt like you were immersed in a garlic scent bath. The ramson buds were particularly tasty. Here I fried them with our breakfast of ham and eggs – absolutely delicious!

OK Guys – let’s make a run for it!


I’m just about at the end of my tether with slugs. They have decimated anything I have grown in the garden. I get a crop like this most nights despite spraying nemaslug around a few weeks ago. Some of these blighters are over 4 inches long – that’s all my radish, beetroot and spinach in there!

A prize for anyone that comes up with the best or most original way to remove these pests. A pity you can’t eat them otherwise we would be feasting every night!

Hop Shoots


I recently went on a foraging course with Robin Harford and Olya Maiboroda. It was very good and I picked up a load of useful principles as well as some great specifics. One of those specific examples was Hop Shoots – the 4 inches or so at the tip of the plant. I was walking back from the pub the other day and found, to my delight, a wild or naturalised hop plant growing in some bushes. Quarter of an hour later I had a fist full of shoots and couldn’t wait to cook and taste them. Robin had said that they are a particular delicacy so my expectations were high. We first of all blanched them for a couple of minutes and then sauteed them in garlic butter. I have to say they were very nice but not as spectacular as I had hoped (no pun intended). Next time, I will saute them in normal, non garlic, butter to see if the taste is too delicate to take the garlic. Nonetheless I would give them a 8/10 as a very good, unusual side vegetable.



From Foraging to Feeling Connected


It was just last autumn that I met Julian and was introduced to the fascinating subject of Threnergy. Julian and I share a common interest in foraging wild food and fungi and met to explore the woodlands in search of some tasty finds. During the day the conversation turned to the subjects of mindfulness and Threnergy. Julian guided us through some basic exercises that we could use as we walked.

I’d not heard about Threnergy before, but have tried various mindfulness techniques in the past. Often I struggle to engage in the exercises and find it hard to feel a benefit, but this new concept I was being shown felt very different. The simplicity but power of the techniques was immediately noticeable and I was keen to find out more, so I was very excited to read his book. Julian uses his knowledge and experience throughout his book to guide you through the principles of Threnergy in an easy to follow manner. I’ve found these principles easy to incorporate into my day to day life in a way I’ve not been able to do before. These exercisers have been great in helping me to refocus and reflect no matter where I am, whether at home, at my desk or walking in the woods where this journey began for me.

Steve Thornton


Eating Weeds

Given my deep interest in foraging and Mindful Connectivity it came as no surprise to me that this course looked very interesting: Waking Up To Plants: Sensory Practices to Deepen Your Connection to Nature

I booked myself on the course run by Robin Harford and Olya Maiboroda in Exeter – and I was not disappointed. The topics, the presenters and the people it attracted were all first rate.


We started the first session with a brief introduction and then headed swiftly out into the local area, calming ourselves down in a small park before coming across and enjoying the delights of red valerian, daisies and elderberry flowers. After a short walk, we ended up in Belle Isle Park and looked at, sniffed and chewed a few plants ranging from mustard to sticky willy and Himalayan Balsam. Looking at the principles behind knowing these plants rather than the normal morphological approach to identifying them was fascinating.


As was the afternoon session, where Olya focused on our senses of smell and taste, linking drinking a freshly made dandelion tea with feelings within our bodies. A very nice way of understanding our innate abilities to taste, smell and feel the herbal effects with our minds and bodies. We tasted the tea blind and it was extremely interesting to hear what we all thought the tea was: there was a remarkable convergence of descriptions of smell, taste and feelings from all on the course.

Excellent Mindful Connectivity with taste, smell and herbal effects.

What’s Growing Well

I find this topic fascinating myself, so I thought I’d add my bit of information on what is growing well around Guildford, UK, now (end of April).

Ground Elder 

In my last posts, I detailed Ground Elder which is in full swing and, I believe, best eaten as young shoots and leaves and raw.



Then there is naturalised Oregano i.e. it’s done the plant equivalent of going feral – we have tons of the stuff so I’m going to try and make some pesto with it:



Lemon Balm

And we also have some Lemon Balm that’s just kicking off and will be carpeting the place within a few weeks.


There will be so much of this stiff growing here that I will have to use it for multiple things. The good bit is, it smells wonderful just cut, bunched up and hung around the place. It helps keep mossies at bay. Also good to add to bar-b-ques, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for those!



Ground Elder – Tasting Notes


Ground elder does seem to be a popular leaf, so I thought this update would be useful. After my last post, we steamed the leaves with some butter (like you would spinach) and ate them with some pasta. The shoots were firm and the taste was good. The leaves were also very tasty with a surprising aromatic aniseed/ fennel overtone. My son and wife liked it overall, but held at one portion each, so I ate most of the dish.

I went out and picked some of the fresh leaves to sample again today, and I must say they are much better raw – with a very nice rich parsley taste and a hint of aniseed. So, we’ll be having them raw in salads from now on – until they flower of course!

Ground Elder – Goats Foot – Roman Spinach

Apparently the Romans loved this stuff so much they brought it with them to the UK. It spreads like wild-fire here. I have eaten it in the past and it tasted ok, with a fairly strong aniseed after taste. Have read up on it recently: the young shoots are the best tasting. I can confirm that they are delicious – even when eaten raw – like a tasty parsley. The younger shoots are markedly brighter green. I even have a variegated variety though it’s not quite as rampant as they rest. A word of warning: the taste gets stronger as the plants grow as does its its laxative effect after it has flowered!

Will be steamed for a couple of minutes and then a knob of butter added just before eating!

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