This year, I discovered another wild edible at the parent’s copse while picking wild garlic … its cousin, the wild onion!
Unfortunately, there were not many so I could not pick them as merrily as I had done with the wild garlic. I picked only a few to bring home as I chose to leave the rest so that they could continue to grow with the hope of a more abundant harvest of wild onions next year.
However, when I went back a month later to take a look at my newly found treasure, I was frustrated at not being able to locate the small wild onion patch … even though I had left a marker near the patch. The marker was gone (okay, it was only a twig) and despite straining my eyes very hard to try to locate the wild onions where I vaguely remembered to have seen them on my previous visit, I could not find any! Arghhh …
But I remained hopeful. Normally, the onions should flower in summer, so that on my next visit to the parents’ copse, I would keep a lookout for some onion blooms. If the wild onions were still there, then I would be able to find them again.
Interestingly, my very first encounter with the wild onions was by chance. It was when we were waiting for the daddy-man to come and fetch us to go to their place … at a bus stop in the countryside near the Swiss-French border. That was in early spring last year and, at that time, I did not know anything about wild onions.
They had caught my eyes only because they looked so lovely and interesting with their leaves twisted in all directions. And because of this peculiarity, they really stood out against the grass and other plants that were growing around them.
Since I had my camera with me, I decided to take several snapshots of these plants – unusual, but so pleasing to the eye.
As fate would have it, I accidentally stumbled across pictures of wild onions on the Internet while we were still at the parents. And they looked just like the pictures that I had taken of the curly plants that I had seen near the bus stop. So on the way back two days later, I asked the daddy-man to make a brief stop at the very same place so that I would be able to pick the plants.
However, while the hubby and I were trying to pull at the wild onions, a car pulled at a stop next to us and the driver sternly told us not to pick the wild onions as they were growing next to a farm field which would have been sprayed with chemical pesticide. And he waited until we had got into the car before he would drive off. He was right about the health risk… but the way he was telling us off was a little strange to me. He could have told us nicely … instead of being rather fierce about it. In fact, he had looked and sounded almost angry. Hmmm …
Fortunately, we managed to tear off one of the wild onion stems before the ‘concerned fellow’ came to tell us off … so that I was able to do the smelling test to verify if the curly plants were indeed wild onions. Even without the bulb, it had that unmistakable ‘oniony’ smell!
Apart from that one time, I did not find any more wild onions … until I stumbled across them while I was picking wild garlic at the parents’ copse in spring this year.
The wild onions were partially hidden among the wild garlic, wild strawberries and other weed plants so that they were not immediately noticeable.
But after having read up a lot more about wild onions … my interest was stirred when I saw these long straight tube like leaves as I knew about the many different varieties and species of wild onions. And not all of them have the beautiful curls of the first variety of wild onions that I had found last year.
The only way to confirm my suspicion was to pull out one of them.
Oh yes, I found my little treasure. 🙂 When I excitedly told the mum that I had found wild onions in their copse, she informed me that they must have been chives from the seeds that she had scattered in the copse. That piece of news put a little damper to my finding because if that had been the case, then it was not a true ‘wild onion’. But I knew what I had found … so when I got home, I quickly dug out the chives growing on my balcony so that I could compare the two.
And voilà! As you can see … they are not the same plants. Whereas chives have almost non-existent bulbs (and look rather like a mini version of leeks), the ones that I had found had those unmistakable onion bulbs, even though they were very, very small.
It was too bad that I could not find them again on my next visit … but I refused to give up hope of finding some wild onions … somewhere … as long as the warm season would still be under way.
And true enough …
… just a week later, while making our way home after having checked out and taken plenty of photos of the lovely wild narcissus that the hubby had just discovered earlier this year growing closer to home than up at the mountains … I found my wild onions in an unlikely place.
Given the location where they were growing, next to a walking path along a road, I could not give in to my foraging instinct. With a heavy heart, I had to leave them.
And it was not until a week ago that I finally found my wild onions, again … this time, while we were searching for a waterfall in the woods at a village called La Sarraz, deeper in the canton of Vaud. I suppose you could call it … fate! hehehe … 😀
We had taken a wrong turn … and had found ourselves in a small wooded area not far from a river.
And it was here while we were trying to look for the directions to the elusive waterfall, that I accidentally spotted these beauties growing just next to the small walking path … the unmistakable flower buds of the wild onions!
There were not that many of them … or, at least, we did not have the time for me to go and check out the areas for more of them as the hubby wanted to make sure that we would see the waterfall. But he kindly helped me to dig out the onions as they were really strongly rooted to the earth.
Being responsible foragers, we took only a few bulbs and we left a few back in the soil so that they could regrow.
The bulbs after I had cut and cleaned them. Yes, I know that they are really quite tiny … and not even enough to make a decent meal for the two of us. But I found my wild onions … and I got to cook with them. The forager in me could not be any happier! hehehe … 😀
And who knows … maybe if I am lucky, I shall find more of them before the summer is over! One can always hope right?