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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


When Hazel mentioned navelwort on my previous post, I'd never heard of it, still less knew how to find it. When I followed her link to see a photo, however, I recognised the plant immediately, I just didn't know what it was called. This afternoon I had a look around for some. There was none in the garden, but I had a hunch there might be some by the railway line, so I went for a little walk. Sure enough, I found some...

Navelwort growing on a clump of moss in the railway cutting

... and it was exactly where I'd expected to find it, growing on the rocks in the cutting. Hmm, do you think perhaps I'd seen it there before, and my subconscious memory was what made me expect to find it there? I think that's a distinct possibility.

Here's a closer view:

Close-up of same navelwort, growing amongst the moss

When I was little my mum showed me how to blow the leaves up like balloons, but I've never managed to pull off that trick. Yes, I did try again today.

I tasted a few leaves, and liked it. I can't put my finger on what it reminds me of - perhaps nothing. It's bright and refreshing, but slightly bitter and quite a strong flavour. It would be good in salad, but I might also try some in soup (I put just about anything in soup) to see what it's like cooked.

There's not a great abundance by the railway, but enough for me to pick a meal's worth without having too much impact, and definitely enough to be worth the couple of minutes' walk to fetch it. That's two new wild foods in as many days, which is very exciting! Hazel also mentioned Alexanders (should that have a capital letter? It's only a plant, but it looks wrong without), which I've been wanting to try for a while, if only I can find them. I may have to get nearer the coast for that, though.


  1. Good news about the navelwort; I do keep looking out for some closer to home. I didn't know about blowing up the leaves, I must try that next time I find some!

    I really quite liked alexanders (I see I capitalised it in my last comment, and actually it gets the red line underneath if you don't). I cooked them like asparagus and ate them with butter. Quite a resiny taste, hard to describe. The stems got stringier the further up the plant they went, I think. If you find a plant that has effectively had the bottom section of stem blanched by surrounding foliage, that's supposed to be less stringy, I seem to remember.

  2. Its leaves remind me of lady's mantle.

  3. A quick image search... Oh yes, I see what you mean. Navelwort leaves are stiffer, though, a bit like a succulent (perhaps that means it is a succulent? I don't know how these things are decided).


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