Category Archives: Perennial vegetables

Jan Lein, northernmost Asparagus pioneer

I was saddened to see in yesterday’s Adressa (local paper) that Trøndelags grand old asparagus farmer has died ☹

As part of my project  for the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre documenting and collecting old Norwegian vegetables, I received a tip about a retired farmer, Jan Lein, who had supposedly grown asparagus commercially on Tautra (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautra), a historic island which I can just see from my house on the other side of the Trondheimsfjorden. The fact that the island is surrounded by relatively warm water in winter makes for a mild climate and early spring. The island and surrounding area is known as Trondheim’s vegetable garden!

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I called Lein and agreed to meet him at his house on 17th October 2010. I met a really nice man who was proud of his pioneering work with asparagus on Tautra which he believed started in the early 1960s. He told me that he even grew organically with seaweed as fertiliser and he grew white asparagus by mounding the plants with earth. In his house, there were a number of pictures on the walls of his vegetables, including asparagus! The plants themselves derived from seed bought from Leuthens Seed Catalogue in Trondheim. He sold on the market in Trondheim for a number of years until his local production was outcompeted by imported asparagus ☹ Her grew about 12-13 different vegetables at that time!

Jan showed me this plant nearby which was one of the original plants

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RIP Jan Lein, the northernmost Asparagus grower in the world?
The pictures below were photographed on his wall:

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Skirret harvest 2017

A good skirret (sukkerrot) harvest again…I don’t grow much as this perennial root and shoot vegetable is not totally hardy here. I have a few plants along the southern house wall which are covered in winter to protect against hard frost.
More on my blog and book!
P1800171
 
Skirret-chufa stir-fry
 
The tallest skirret challenge
(Nobody has challenged my world record 2.3m skirret)
 
Skirret shoots

Eco-sense

After our visit to the Government House garden, Solara Goldwynn​ took me on a visit to an amazing inspiring ecohouse, gardens and perennials nursery in the Highlands area just outside of the city of Victoria (BC) where she and husband Tayler were living in a flat with owners Ann and Gord Baird

You can read much more about Ann and Gord on their web site at https://eco-sense.ca

Kvann foredrag i Trondheim

Ingerid Angell-Pedersen holdt et kort innlegg om kvann (en fast “månedens art” innlegg) under kveldens medlemsmøtet hos Trøndelagsavdelingen av Norsk Botanisk Forening i Trondheim! Ingerids onkel, hagebruker Jens Roll-Hansen på Kvithamaforsøksgård i Stjørdal, var utgangspunktet for Markusteigen linje av Vossakvann som dyrkes på Landvik…og nå er også dyrket og distribuert i høst gjennom “foreningen” KVANNs høstkatalog av Karl fra prosjektet archangelica.no! Ingerid har fortsatt Vossakvann i hagen som bildene viser…

Etter foredraget begynte møtelederen faktisk å fortelle forsamlingen om at det var til og med dannet en forening KVANN…før jeg kunne fortelle dette selv… Jeg kunne derfor sto opp og fortelle at jeg var faktisk KVANNs leder og jeg fortalte litt om oss….

Her er hele foredrag til Ingerid:
KVANN-2017.11.11a

EdimAsters

There are many Asters that are foraged and cultivated in the Far East. This includes Aster scaber (Korean Aster) which is one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants. I’ve blogged a lot about this fantastic edimental. See http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=aster+scaber. In my book, I mention 4 other Asian species that are used as spring vegetables and in my most comprehensive Japanese foraging book there are 8 species mentioned. I’ve now finally flowered two other species, both mentioned in my book, so maybe there’ll be a taste in the spring…they are all late flowering. Here they are at the end of October 2017!
See on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10155527725545860.1073743046.655215859&type=1&l=7a796be893

Crambe cordifolia sale

I found 4 plants of one of my favourite and most productive perennial vegetables, Crambe cordifolia (Heartleaf Crambe / buskstrandkål) for sale at 70% off the normal price of kr 150 in a garden centre (Hageland, Lade) yesterday!! I already have it, but want more varieties and I have plans for the others next year! I’ve never seen this for sale in Norway before…
This is one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants!
Imported from Denmark (www.majland.dk)

Having permafun in Porsgrunn

Back in Nesodden (family visit) after two great days celebrating økouka (national organic week) in Porsgrunn! Thanks to Gunn Marit and Anne Sofie for inviting me and for all the great folks that attended, several of which were members of KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers). On Wednesday evening I gave a 90min + talk about KVANN and perennial veggies, followed by the official opening of Porsgrunn Seed Library (with my Hablitzia – stjernemelde) seed being the first donation. Then, on Thursday morning, I gave a course on perennial veggies to a group in the newly restored Eidanger vicarage in which the Eidanger CSA (moved here this year from another site) has a room, including half an hour looking at wild and garden plants in the old rectory garden! A great mix of folks, it was particularly pleasing that two young students had travelled down from Bø i Telemark to learn more about perennial vegetables! It was also good to see the leader of the Århus CSA scheme Tove and the new gardener Katrine in attendance! I’d met Tove on that memorable life-changing visit to Århus 5 years ago (http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=13690). There are lots of exciting sustainable developments and initiatives in Porsgrunn and I also talked to a guy with plans of converting an old farm to a forest garden. Great also to meet a newly arrived American wwoofer who had travelled south from Engeløya (Steigen) where she’d been working for my friend Eva Bakkeslett​ (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1720 about my 2015 visit to Engeløya). For this reason, the course was in English!! Eidanger is destined to become a centre of vegetable diversity in the future with such a great group of visionary folk and a lot of land to work with!
See also this aerial view of the Porsgrunn CSA at the Eidanger Prestegård: https://scontent-arn2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/20863217_10214875018217539_4042211065793829304_o.jpg?oh=014f038146772c9a50993319a5a1c027&oe=5A546BFA

Slender nettle

Urtica gracilis (often classified as a subspecies of stinging nettle,Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis) is a widespread nettle species in North America including Canada and Alaska. It has many local names including slender nettle, California nettle and American nettle. This year, my tallest nettle is currently over 2.9m high!

It was (and is) an important plant of the first peoples throughout the continent from Vermont to Alaska,used as a vegetable, medicinally and, most importantly as a fibre plant, including fishing nets!.
One native use I noted was “Rubbed on the bodies of sealers to keep them awake at night” :) (Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany has a long list of uses)
My slender nettle has almost no stinging hairs, and, in general, has much less than stinginess
than the introduced Urtica dioica subsp. dioica (Stinging Nettle) and Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle; see my book Around the World in 80 plants).
It is unisexual ( I seem to have just one sex as it doesn’t produce seeds…)

Added 300917: The friend in Granville, Ohio who sent me the seed of this nettle writes: “I collected the Urtica gracilis along the back of my property, near an old railroad (now a bike trail). It’s a common plant in “waste places”. I’ve never seen the plants grow that large here. Could your additional sunlight be to blame?”