Category Archives: Invasive plants

Noxious pizza

I’m still alive and well after last night’s noxious pizza. I’ll explain. I used pea shoots from the living room, onion, Allium cernuum shoots harvested from the garden (I forgot to include Hablitzia shoots), garlic and chili…on top of the pizza, I added seed of Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), one of the “worst” noxious (invasive) species…

 

Incredible “Incredible Wild Edibles” by Sam Thayer

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Sam Thayer is without doubt my favourite foraging author and his new book Incredible Wild Edibles does nothing to change that! It’s been 7 years since his book “Nature’s Garden” and 11 since his debut, Forager’s Garden. All his books are thoroughly researched and I love his plant descriptions, which are detailed, thoughtful and accurate with lots of fun personal anecdotes intertwined! The range of edible plants in this book is very wide and includes amongst others plants yielding berries (including one of my favourites, but rarely grown, black raspberry), leafy greens and shoots (caraway, poke and bladder campion), annual weeds (chickweed and shepherd’s purse), “ground” nuts (chufa), herbs and spices (caraway and fennel), introduced invasives (Japanese knotweed, creeping bellflower), winter crops (miner’s lettuce), root crops (Psoralea or prairie turnip and poppy mallow or Callirhoe involucrata), nut trees (hickory), seed crops (black mustard), water vegetables (watercress), sap sugar (maple) and edible flowers (violet). As with Thayer’s other books, although these are North American wild edibles, some are cultivated as garden edibles around the world and several have a wide geographic distribution including Europe or originating in Europe (I like to think that caraway was introduced originally to North America by the Vikings from here in Norway). Some are also new wave perennial vegetables being grown in permaculture inspired and forest gardens. I actually grow most of this collection in my own garden in Norway. Therefore, all of Thayer’s books are also of interest to foragers, edible gardeners and permaculturists both in and outside of North America!  There are 3 species covered which I was particularly interested to read about as they are seldom covered in foraging and edible gardening books. These are water parsnip (Sium suave), Sweet root (Osmorhiza spp.) and sochan or cut-leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), the secret vegetable of the Cherokee. I’ve grown the latter in my garden for several years (a double flowered ornamental form; see the picture) as I’d read that it was used by native americans but had never found much in the way of first hand information! I can now look forward to trying this in my ever growing collection of edimentals or edible ornamentals (plants doubling good taste with good looks!)

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The book starts with a number of short essays on various relevant subjects. I particularly enjoyed his “Foraging against the invasion”, that herbicides are not the solution, creating an ecological void, quickly recolonized by invasives….that it’s unrealistic that we will win in the end…and that foragers should participate in the deliberate control of invasives as they are the people most likely to notice and have an impact. Foraging can in this way actually save native plant communities rather than what is often stated, that foraging destroys by overharvesting. And many invasives are of course excellent edibles (we are planning an invasives festival here in Norway!)

The book ends with Thayer’s essay on what he terms Ecoculture! This is Thayer’s term for the ancient practice of the management of natural ecosystems to enhance their production of useful products…and argues that it should and could become an important component of future food systems. I remember on a visit to the West Coast reading in old (suppressed) literature about the amazing extent to which Native Americans managed the forests for food and other products. This is of course nothing unique to North America. These practices are also one of the inspirations of Permaculture’s forest gardens or food forests. Thayer also describes a part of his own garden that he has planted as a diverse productive garden of edibles, but he only (or mainly) uses native plants. Native ecoculture works for Thayer as native forests in his part of the world are particularly diverse and able to supply the calories…in my part of the world this is difficult without introducing non-natives like nut trees and introduced perennial vegetables in our relatively poor native flora……therefore I use forest gardening  rather than ecoculture. Thayer gives the prime example of the sugar maple and wild leek (Allium tricoccum) forests….the closest we have to this in Norway are hazel – ramsons (Allium ursinum) woods, but they are rather limited in extent and nuts are small. Our permaculture forest gardens lie somewhere between “unstable” mainstream agriculture and its predominantly annual crops and Thayer’s relatively stable natural plant communities with mainly perennials.

Thayer also argues that rather than reducing our impact, we need rather “to increase our positive impact on the landscape whilst gathering earth’s gifts to nourish and heal ourselves”.  There is also food for thought that in-situ natural perennial poly-ecocultures do not involve improved varieties as domestication or plant improvement happens in isolation……

Get this book, it could indeed change your life!
Seven years was worth the wait! Thank you Sam!!

Overview of Sam Thayer’s books:

Forager’s Harvest: 2006 (360 pages) 32 plants

Nature’s garden: 2010 (512 pages) 41 plants

Incredible Wild Edibles 2017 (479 pages) 36 plants

Invasives talk at the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre

I gave a lunch time talk today for staff at Artsdatabanken (the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre) in Trondheim…I gave a choice of 3 titles that I couldn’t decide on, so I used all 3: “If you can’t beat them, eat them”, “Aliens in the Gourmet Kitchen” and “Svarteliste godsaker” (blacklisted goodies)…
After lunch, there was a presentation from 4 students who had won a prize for developing a web site (not up yet) for providing recipes for invasive species…on my suggestion, they secured the web address invasivore.no!!!

Invasive Moonglow Quiche

As I suggested earlier today, veggie quiche would be tonight’s dinner (as two years ago on this day) now that I’m back here in Malvik :)
With cold weather getting colder and the forecast insulating snow not happening, I spent the day harvesting before it’s impossible to dig the soil!
The quiche turned into an invasive (svartelistet) quiche as it contains giant hogweed (Tromsøpalme) seed spice (golpar) and this year it is topped with dried Himalayan Balsam (kjempespringfrø) seed, two of the “worst” invasive species here in Norway and other parts of Europe :)  Other veg includes leek, parsley, garlic and chili.
The pie crust was made of whole grain fine naked barley flour (Hordeum vulgare var. nudum).
The tomato is a variety called “Moonglow”!P1680238P1680239 
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Svartelistet søtsak (“blacklisted goodies”) article

Norwegian article on sweet cicely  published on the following sites / Norsk artikkel  om spansk kjørvel er publisert på følgende steder:

http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=737  (all my articles from the magazine Sopp og Nyttevekseter er available here / alle mine artikler fra Sopp og Nyttevekster er samlet her)

and

http://www.skogoglandskap.no/temaer/spiselige/subject_view

 

Sowing Ground Elder seed

I don’t think many people have sowed ground elder seed before :)  It won’t be easy to shake off the Mad Salad Man tag now ;)
When I saw seed of ground elder /bishop’s weed / skvallerkål (Aegopodium) on offer on a Polish seed trade list a couple of months ago I just couldn’t resist (I have never –  understandably – seen seed offered before….). I thought I would sprout the seed for ground elder shoots….
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SRGC seed has arrived

For the unusual vegetable enthusiast, the place to find seed are the alpine garden clubs’ seed exchanges: Scottish Rock Garden Club (SRGC), Alpine Garden Society (AGS) and the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) are the main international ones and each puts out a seed list of several thousand varieties donated by the members…by no means just alpine garden plants! I remember reading an article in the North American Herb Companion with a recommendation to source seed of unusual herbs from NARGS.
My SRGC seed arrived today  and here they are, a mixed bunch including the yellow form of Kamchatka Lily (Fritillaria camschatensis “Aurea”), one I’ve been looking for for some time! You can probably read some of the names but there are Phyteumas, Ligularias, Alliums, Dahlias, Lilium, Polygonum macrophyllum, Agastache, Zanthoxylum simulans and Boehmeria…
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The Live in London tapes

While I was in London in  December I met London Permaculture’s Stefan Geyer at St. Athan’s Hotel in London for a chat and it’s now available for all to hear on Stefan’s 21st Century Permaculture radio show live on Shoreditch radio:

www.mixcloud.com/21stcenturypermaculture

Amongst other topics, we talked about the book, how I travelled the globe researching the world of edible plants (both for real and through reading foraging and ethnobotanical literature from all continents), talked about some of the best perennial vegetables like Udo from Japan and Korea (now sold on markets in London), Sea Kale (the most British of all vegetables?), Sea Kale’s giant sister from the Caucasus (Crambe cordifolia), how a popular vegetable was harvested from the chalk cliffs of England  using ropes and was shot down from cliffs by a friend of Charles Darwin  (Death Samphire), and how a famous UK garden may have the most productive food forest (forest garden) in the UK unbeknowns to the owner…

Highgrove
The Highgrove Food Forest!
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Blanched Crambe cordifolia, the so-called Ornamental Sea Kale is a high-yielding edimental from the Caucasus

 

 

 

 

 

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Foraging Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire) from the crumbling chalk cliffs was a dangerous occupation (NB! I did mix this one up in the interview, referring to it as Marsh Samphire, Salicornia….to many a cheap imposter of the real Samphire!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See also http://www.permaculture.co.uk/news/2001155978/stephen-barstow-permaculture-radio