WILD LEEKS- ONE OF OUR FIRST PLANTS IN SPRING
Wild leeks (aka, ramps, spring onions,wood leek, ail de bois) are a wild onion native to North America. One of the first plants to appear in the spring, wild leeks have a flavor and odor that is a combination of onions and garlic. In the onion family (Alliaceae), wild leeks can be found in soil habitats that are sandy on hillsides or moist near streams
What They Look Like:
– Grow in groups with beautiful, flat, broad, smooth, light green leaves
– Lower stems have deep purple or burgundy tints
– Scallion-like, white bulb strongly rooted with short ‘hairs’ just beneath the surface of the soil
– Break a leaf or stem and take a sniff of the strong and distinctive onion scent
How to Harvest:
– Carry a cloth bag (plastic bags promote wilting) to let them breathe
– Use a tool like a long knife or dandelion digger to help loosen the root hairs that grow from the tip of the bulb before pulling (to avoid breaking off the stem)
– Don’t leave piles of leeks on the kitchen counter too long or your kitchen will smell
How to Cook:
– Both the white bulb and broad green leaves of wild leeks are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, substituting in any recipe calling for scallions or leeks
– Wild leeks stay fresh, if unwashed, for over a week in the refrigerator
– To use fresh, cut off the root hairs, rinse thoroughly, and scrub off any excess dirt on the bulbs
– To preserve, blanch for 2-3 minutes and then pickle, dry or freeze
TIPS FOR GETTING OUT WITH KIDS
Take a break from chores, schedules and to-do lists. Try not to look at it as one more “should”. Just 15-20 minutes outside is often enough to rejuvenate if we are fully present and focused on the moment. Research shows that we all benefit from play! Try having fun with your kids but without telling them how to do it.
Ditch The Agenda
Let your kids’ (and your) curiosity take the lead. Be willing to give up a schedule so you can make discoveries without worrying about a time limit.
Say ‘I Don’t Know’
You don’t have to be the expert. Instead learn alongside your kids by saying: “How can we find out?” More important than having answers is asking questions and being curious. Use your sense of wonder to learn and discover together.
Encourage Unstructured Play
Kids need space to explore on their own terms without grown ups giving all the directions and rules. Let them figure out what to do, and how to do it instead of starting with a structured activity. Stand back and watch where their imaginations and creativity take them. Give support and guidance when needed.
Keep It Simple
Heading out without any special toys or equipment teachers your kids to use their imaginations and/or what they find lying around. Remember that boredom is one of the best catalysts for creativity!
Slow Down, Relax and Enjoy
Make time for “down time” outdoors. Often we forget to just ‘be here now’–watch the clouds, lie in the grass or lean against a tree trunk. Have kids find a special ‘sit spot’ in your backyard that is their own where they can go again and again to play or unwind.
Forgo The Phone
Putting your phone away changes everything–gone is the distraction that diverts your attention along with the need to snap photos/selfies and post them. Instead you can be fully present. This can be very challenging at first but like anything else, it gets easier and more gratifying with practice. Don’t let the grumbling deter you; the entire family will reap the benefits of unplugging. If you’re going to allow phones, then create a specific purpose for using them (e.g., snap a photo of a plant to be drawn later) or set a time limit when they need to be put away.
Stretch your own comfort level with bugs and worms, rain and mud, snow and cold, darkness and the likes. Your kids will pick up on your squeamishness or discomfort. Let them see you relaxed and enjoying yourself outdoors.
Give Permission To Get Messy
Getting dirty is an essential part of outdoor discovery, at any age. You need to say “It’s ok!” so your kids don’t worry about getting in trouble for dirty clothes, wet shoes or grubby hands.
Bring the Indoors Out
Go outside to do the things you usually do inside – eating meals, reading books, drawing, or painting projects. Bring the “indoor” toys outside and let your kids use them in new ways.