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Bombus consobrinus on Himalayan Balsam

Long-tongued Bombus consobrinus (lushatthumle) which almost exclusively feeds on Aconitum has turned up in the garden over the last few days on Himalayan balsam / kjempespringfrø (Impatiens glandulifera).

Thanks to Tor Bollingmo for the ID (he tells me, he’s not seen this species on Impatiens before).

Visit from Permalin

Lovely visit and the year’s first picnic last night from Permalin Farm, currently being established in Agdenes Kommune, just south of Lensvik (see permalin.no). Dominika Bučková and Håkon Nilsen estabished a student company producing delicious 100% flax flour bread in Telemark (Linbakst; see the following video in Norwegian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkGsbhMlZrI) using a method to remove cyanide from the flour, so that authority regulations to limit consumption of flax seed can be safely circumnavigated. They are now moving the business to their permaculture inspired farm in Trøndelag. I’ll be doing a workshop at the farm during their Farming in Harmony with Nature Summer Festival on 27th-28th July. See you there :)

Grain eaters

With 40-50cm of snow in the farm fields, grain-eating birds are desperate for food. Today, some 30 yellowhammers (gulspurv) and many hooded crows (kråke) and jackdaws (kaie) were at the bird feeder where I’d put out some grain this morning!

Digging for victory

I’ve been following and supporting the discussions that we need to Dig for Victory against climate change as though we were in a war….this is the progress so far! No, I shouldn’t joke :(
The first two pictures shows progress digging a trench along the driveway. 30 years ago, I dug by hand the length of the driveway and filled in with stones and gravel as the previous owners hadn’t wanted a car into the house and it was just a pathway with grass. I started the trench to stop the tree roots invading my vegetable beds, a problem on my shallow soil which I didn’t think was more than 20cm depth anywhere, but where the pictures are taken seems to be part of an old sand quarry and it was much deeper than I ever imagined and I’m still not down to the rock! I gave up having excavated a lot of sand and come down to a layer of clay beneath. I’ve now refilled this with large rocks! I remember excavating this part 30 years ago in the spring and finding a hard layer that I thought was rock…it seems it was frozen :)
The second picture shows another bed I constructed when building the greenhouse (RIP) for my mint collection. The mints were grown in pots and sunk in gravel to stop them wandering. I’ve dug it all out, cleaned the gravel and replanted!

Rampions for dinner: one of the best edientomentals!

The most successful of the half dozen Phyteuma species I’ve tried in my garden has been a plant received as Phyteuma nigrum (syn. Phyteuma spicatum ssp nigrum), black rampion or (Norwegian) svartvadderot. It has much darker flowers than Phyteuma spicatum, sometimes almost black. I planted it from seed propagated plants in 2003 and this picture is from 2006-2007:

It has self-sowed freely and seems to have crossed with other accessions of Phyteuma spicata with white and blue (ssp. caeruleum) flowers that I have in my garden (these have not self-sowed much) as there is now a mix of colours in the original spot I planted nigrum. Phyteuma spicatum/nigra is also  the most popular bee plant in my garden in mid-June and a great edimental (one of the edi-entomentals, plants combining food, ornament as well as good for bees and other pollinators!). Phyteuma spicatum (rapunsel) is a very old root vegetable in Europe, mentioned already in Gerard’s Herball from 1597, but best known as a vegetable in France and Germany! The name rapunsel is related to rapa (turnip) due to its use as a root vegetable!
See my blog post from 23rd June 2017 with pictures and video of black rampion: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=11910
I tried Phyteuma spicatum as a root vegetable in 2013 and was struck by its good sweetish taste:

I harvested a lot of plants this week (late July 2018) while remaking the bed where it was growing  and was impressed by the good size of roots and yields, although it is unknown how old the individual plants were (I plan to grow some of the smaller plants elsewhere to see how quickly they grow in a shady area of the garden, as this could be a good forest garden plant, although, like Jerusalem artichoke, plants in the Campanulaceae to which Phyteuma belongs, contain the diabetic friendly but poorly digestable carbohydrate inulin):

The flower heads can also be used as a vegetable, reminiscent of Bath Asparagus flower heads (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum) see the picture from its wiki page:

I saw the plant in the wild for the first time in Austria in the Alps on my Arche Noah tour in 2017 (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=11483), the white flowered form, growing in open woodlands.

In Norway, it grows wild a few places in southern Norway and has also naturalised in parks, including the great garden at Baroniet Rosendal (see the video and pictures at http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=15680). It is also found in the far north of Norway in Finnmark where it naturalised during World War II, introduced by the Germans with horse forage!

The name rapunsel is related to rapa (turnip) due to its use as a root vegetable!

http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=11910 (with video)

Other European languages: Raiponce en épi (French), ährige Teufelskralle (German), ährige Rapunzel (Swiss German), and Raponzolo giallo (Italian)

I’ll be offering seed this autumn via Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN):