On 4th April 2018, I took advantage of my trip to Switzerland to attend the The Potential of Perennials for Food Resilience symposium to visit KVANN’s (Norwegian Seed Savers) sister organisation Pro Specie Rara in Basel. Many thanks to Director Béla Bartha (since 2002) and Head of Education, Esther Meduna for making me feel so welcome. The trial grounds and offices of Pro Specie Rara are located in the Merian Gärten, a botanical garden in Basel. I lead a walk and talk of the trial grounds and botanical collections followed by an evening lecture at Markthalle in the centre of Basel! A great place for a seed saver organisation to be located! Béla also showed me their seed vault a specially climate controlled room (15C and 15% humidity). The walk and talk was sadly interrupted by heavy rain and we moved indoors and I did a short version of my evening lecture instead!
No frost thus far in October and it looks like it could be a frost free month! That and record high temperatures and there are a lot of plants still flowering or reflowering! Most but not all are edible!
Nothing like the promised “giant” 5-10 cm tubers, I was nevertheless surprised to get maybe 3 times the yield of what I planted of chinese arrowhead tubers – Sagittaria trifolia subsp. leucopeta (syn. S. trifolia var. edulis)…a much bigger yield than when I tried North American wapato (Sagittaria latifolia).
Does anybody know how best to overwinter them?
After finding large quantities of winter chantarelles (traktkantarell) the day before within a few hundred metres of our start point, it was very surprising to find only a handful during a 3 hour walk in the Gevingåsen area….the mysteries of the forest! I shouln’t have mentioned yesterday that it was almost guaranteed to find this fungi in suitable habitat in October :(
Nevertheless, there was also an unseasonally large diversity of fungi to be found and here is a selection. Please feel free to add names if you recognise any!
The first small potato harvest in KVANN’s (Norwegian Seed Savers) vegetable sanctuary at Væres Venner Community garden.
I planted 10 varieties of potatoes in the spring…these were virus-free mini-seed potatoes offered to members. They were planted close at about 15 cm apart to produce full size seed potatoes for the 2019 season!
The varieties were a mixture of old Norwegian heirlooms and modern day varieties. The following Norwegian page gives the background for all the varieties seen here: http://www.norwegianseedsavers.no/potet-bestilling/
The most reliable edible fungi here is winter chantarelle (traktkantarell). Only once in my over 30 years of picking this has it failed. The second part of October is the best time and I can always find large quantities in short time in damp mossy spruce woodlands which there is much of near me. Fortunate then that it’s one of the tastiest and it dries quickly for long term storage.This year is no exception and an oven load is now drying (too warm to have the wood burning stove on for drying).
Today’s salad was decorated by the grandchildren! Didn’t they do a good job ….and they dug into it, picking out the good bits which included sour Begonia flowers, tomatoes and not home grown feta cheese..