All posts by Stephen Barstow

Easter decorations

Easter is a big holiday here and it’s a tradition to decorate your home with various decorations (påskepynt) and the cheapest decoration is just to bring in some twigs that leaf out bringing a bit of spring atmosphere into homes. This is even more important this year when most people are at home! I do this every year too, but here the emphasis is on edible tree leaves and two of the best are lime (Tilia cordata) and beech (Fagus sylvaticus)! So here’s what this year’s looks like: 

Last night’s 100%  wholegrain sourdough barley, rye and oat pizza with masses of Hablitzia shoots was eaten with delicious lime leaves:

Spring harvest video by Friends of the Earth, Norway

(English: Short Norwegian video of a few things I’m harvesting from the garden now)
En kort norsk video om litt av det jeg høster i hagen for tiden. Dette i forbindelse med et intervju til et magasin artikkel som ble gjennomført (på avstand) i forrige uke!
Planter som nevnes er
Strandkål (Crambe maritima)
Bendelløk (Allium scorodoprasum)
Prærieløk eller Chicago-løk (Allium cernuum)
Stjernemelde eller Kaukasisk spinat (Hablitzia tamnoides)
Og det bør nevnes at jeg kunne fått alle mine grønnsaker fra ute i hagen denne våren (men noen tar jeg også fra kjelleren).
Lagt ut foreløpig kun på Facebook av Naturvernforbund i Trøndelag! 
https://www.facebook.com/192991824049531/videos/844838809324232

3,590 Pinkfeet

One of the highlights of spring for me are the large flocks of pink-footed geese (pinkfeet) or kortnebbgjess in Norwegian passing Malvik on the final stage of their journey from their overwintering grounds in the low countries to their staging post just north of here before the final journey to Svalbard. We heard yesterday that an estimated 15,000 pinkfeet had been observed flying north over Oslofjorden and on up Gudbrandsdalen the broad river valley north from Oslo to Trondheim. However, last night we were told that due to bad weather they had stopped south of the mountains.  I heard a few last night so a few had flown over the mountains….but I was woke at 07:30 as the first flocks started passing and they continued in a steady stream until I had to leave at 12 pm. 
I recorded as many flocks as I could by pictures and videos….and estimate that at least 3,590 birds passed in 22 flocks during the morning…so today was very different to what I’d planned! This is the largest number I’ve recorded here and the main migration is nowadays 1 month earlier than it used to be, one of the most obvious and dramatic signs of climate change here….

Here are all reported pinkfeet (kortnebbgås) observations in Norway the last two days showing that the birds fly along a narrow corridor from Denmark into the Oslo fjord, on up the Gudbransdalen valley and then over the Dovrefjell mountains (few observations) to Trondheimsfjord. The furthest north observations are at the staging post area (farmland):

 

27th March Veggies from the garden

Tonight we made a quiche (eggepai) with these vegetables:
Allium nutans (Siberian nodding onion)
Allium cernuum
(nodding onion / prærieløk)
Dystaenia takesimana (Giant Ulleung Celery)
Brassica oleracea (Perennial kale / flerårige kål)
Allium paradoxum
Allium oleraceum
Alliaria petiolata
(hedge garlic / løkurt)
Angelica archangelica (Voss Angelica / Vossakvann)
Myrrhis odorata (Sweet cicely / spansk kjørvel)
Tragopogon pratensis shoots ( Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon / geitskjegg)
Carum carvi (caraway / karve)
Aegopodium podograria (ground elder / skvallerkål)
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion / løvetann)
Rumex acetosa (sorrel / engsyre)
Smyrnium olusatrum (Alexanders / sorte løpstikke)

Mauka in Malvik, Bergen and Belgium

(Norsk forklaring nedenfor)
Mauka (Mirabilis expansa) is a root vegetable grown, amongst others by the Maukallajta Indians in the Andes and I cultivated it for the first and only time outdoors in Malvik in 2012 with seed from Owen Smith … and it grew vigorously  laterally (therefore the epithet expansa) and I even got a harvest! Unfortunately, I can’t remember tasting the roots and think that they simply rotted in store before I could try them. But, I did eat the leaves in a salad.
Below you will find an album of pictures from my trial in 2012 (I later tried twice with seeds from Bergen Botanical Garden but did not get germination). In Bergen Botanical Garden, I saw a lush plant at Milde on October 22, 2014 (in the collection of vegetables from the Andes) and the next day I was surprised to find it in the rock garden at the Museumsplassen (pictures from Bergen are in a separate album below)!
Norsk: Mauka (Mirabilis expansa) er en rotgrønnsak dyrket bl.a. av Maukallajta indianerne i Andesfjellene og jeg dyrket den for første og eneste gang på friland i Malvik i 2012…og den vokste utrolig mye sideveis (derfor epiteten expansa) og jeg fikk faktisk noe å høste (jeg hadde ingen tro etter dårlige erfaringer med andre planter fra Andesfjellene)! Jeg kan dessverre ikke huske at jeg smakte på røttene og tror at de rett og slett råtnet før jeg kunne prøve. Men, jeg spiste bladene i en salat.
Nedenfor finner dere bilder fra mitt forsøk i 2012 (jeg prøvde senere to ganger med frø fra Bergen Botaniske Hage, men fikk ingen spiring).  I Bergen har jeg sett en frodig plante på Milde 22. oktober 2014 (i samlingen av grønnsaker fra Andesfjellene) og neste dag var jeg overrasket å finne den i fjellhagen på Museumsplassen (bilder fra Bergen i en separat album nedenfor!

I first saw Mauka in the “flesh” on 10th October 2008 when I visited Frank van Keirbilck’s garden in Scheldewindeke, Belgium (I met Frank and mauka through the Homegrown Goodness forum). I call his garden “Andes in Flanders)! Here are a couple of pictures from Frank’s garden that day:




Pictures from Bergen in 2014:




25th March Veggies

These delicious fresh perennial vegetables were added tonight’s dal towards the end
Aegopodium podograria (ground elder; skvallerkål)
Allium cernuum (nodding onion; prærieløk)
Brassica oleracea (perennial kale; flerårige kål)
Ficaria verna (lesser celandine; vårkål)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard; løkurt)
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach; stjernemelde)
Taraxacum officinale ( dandelion; løvetann)  Forced and blanched in the cellar with flower buds now forming
Myrrhis odorata (sweet cicely; spansk kjørvel)

An Aristocratic Vegetable

Sea kale Crambe maritima is sometimes referred to as the King of the Vegetables (Queen is perhaps more fitting!) . This is partly due to the fact that it was in the past cultivated in heated greenhouses for nobility in the UK for Christmas! Maybe not the King, it is certainly an aristocrat and the easiest perennial brassica in cold climates (along wtih even hardier Crambe cordifolia) as it is hardier than perennial kales as it resprouts from the roots every spring and can easily be covered by a mulch of leaves or suchlike in colder climates. I do this every autumn just in case we have a very cold winter (I have experienced plants to resprout from deep roots when the surface roots have been killed in winter). I would normally take off the leaf mulch early April, but this winter it’s been so mild I removed it a few days ago and the plant had already put out delicious sprouts…I’ve been snacking on them! My oldest sea kale is approaching 40 years old, but hasn’t appeared yet (oldies sleep longer I guess!). Much more about Sea Kale in my book Around the World in 80 plants or by searching here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=sea+kale

They are also beautiful. The pictures show the cultivar Lily White which is only about 8 years old.

Giant Ulleung Celery

In my world, plants that are both perennial, edible, ornamental and popular with pollinating insects are the most valuable (I term this class of plants edi-ento-mentals) and the Giant Ulleung Celery, Dystaenia takesimana, ticks all 3 boxes! That it can provide winter greens at a time of year when little else is available is its biggest advantage as an edible plant! This plant has been a closely guarded secret amongst a selected few for many years, but is now poised for the big(ger) time! The fact that I’ve written the article below about this plant is thanks to one man, plant breeder Professor Elwyn Meader (1910-1996) who collected seed on its small home island of Ulleung-do in the East Sea between the Korean peninsular and Japan in 1953! Without his generosity and enthusiasm 30 or so years ago to share seeds, we wouldn’t know about one of the potentially most useful permaculture plants! Please download the article below and seek out plants and seed!

Download (PDF, 3.1MB)



The photo below of a flowering Giant Ulleung Celery at Eric Toensmeier’s home Paradise Lot in Holyoke, Massachusetts is courtesy of Jonathan Bates, who’s in the picture too.





19th March Veggies

Continuing my series of veggies harvested from the garden. this time used in a baccalao with parsnip (pastinakk), potato (potet), bulb onions .(kepaløk),  Jerusalem artichokes (jordskokk), (bought) organic tomatoes and chili. Greens used from the garden:
Urtcia dioica (nettles/brennesle)
Aegopodium podograria (ground elder/skvallerkål)
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach/stjernemelde)
Rumex patientia (patience dock/hagesyre)
Taraxacum officinale dandichokes (dandelion /løvetann)
Ficaria verna (lesser celandine/vårkål)
Allium sativum shoots (garlic/hvitløk)