Wild garlic is not quite the same as the garlic bulbs available on supermarket shelves. As a herb, the most useful and flavourful parts of wild garlic are the leaves and the flower petals, rather than the diminutive bulb. Some gardeners cultivate wild garlic plants as part of their herb garden, while others prefer to collect the plant in the wild. The only difference in harvesting garlic in a garden or from hedgerows and woodland, however, is that in the wild you have to identify the plant before you pick it.
Schedule your harvest effort for late winter and through spring. After a particularly cold winter, set out to harvest the garlic later in the season, as the garlic will mature later.
Identify the wild garlic plants. They have long, green, hollow blade-like leaves that bear some resemblance to chives. When wild garlic is in bloom, the plant's leaves are topped by white flowers. Wild garlic has a very distinctive onion-like smell.
Kneel or squat in front of the patch of wild garlic and cut the individual leaves from the plant as close to the ground as possible. If the wild garlic has blossomed, keep the flowers as well as the green leaves and blades.
Place the wild garlic in a collecting bag or basket. Once you have taken the wild garlic home, store it in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use it.
Garlic blooms from February through to April/May.
Wild garlic is at its best either before or during its blossoming period. After the flowers fall off, the plant loses some of its flavour.
Do not harvest garlic that has turned brown.