Category Archives: Perennial vegetables

Hector and the Disobedient Gardener!

Héctor is from Spain.and is teaching art and photography at the folkhøgskole (folk high school) in Skogn. He is working on a photo-project about vegetable gardens featuring “disobedient farmers/gardeners”. I’ve never been called disobedient, but I think I like that title (D.G.!!).

This was his second visit and he came with his new large format camera today (the lenses and plates can only be obtained second hand, but the frame is new and the film can be bought and developed at one place…). Will be fun to see the result! He’s been both photographing in the garden and in the cellar!
He photographed and tasted both Allium cernuum (Nodding or Chicago onion) as well as Hablitzia. He also took pictures of the dead parts of Udo, Aralia cordata.

Webinar on winter perennial vegetables!

Thank you Emilia Rekestad for putting last week’s webinar on winter perennial vegetables up more permanently on youtube. Emilia first introduces the webinar and the polyculture project through which it was organised!
I hope you find it useful and please help us by sharing with friends and relevant groups!!

RIP The King of the Dandelions, Dandelion Dude Peter Gail

Even though I never met him, I was saddened to learn this morning that one on North Americas leading foragers Peter Gail has died. I first came across him on the old foraging email groups, first Edible Wild in 1999 and later Wild Forager and Forage Ahead…which inspired me to buy his book Dandelion Celebration (1994).  He was the first person I had come across that had actually planted a dandelion bed in his garden and he also organised the National Dandelion Cookoff in Dover, Ohio for many years! You can find the excerpt about Gail from my book Around the World in 80 plants below!
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Excerpt from Around the World in 80 plants:

“I eventually saw the light (about eating dandelions”when I followed a discussion on the ForageAhead email group between two of North
America’s leading foragers ‘Dandelion Dude’ Peter Gail and John Kallas. Gail has written several essays and books about dandelions including his Dandelion Celebration (1994). He also founded the group ‘Defenders of Dandelions’ to provide information to those who want to make their neighbours aware just how good dandelions are and stop the chemical warfare. He has also organised the National Dandelion Cookoff in Dover, Ohio, still going strong since 1993. Gail says he ate dandelions every day, fresh in the summer and in dehydrated form in winter, growing his own from transplanted wild roots on raised beds in his garden for ease of access. Gail has been rightly coined the King of the Dandelions! However, it was John Kallas’ web essay Making Dandelions Palatable that explains how such a bitter weed could be so popular around the world. To start with, Gail admits to thinking he was being poisoned the first time he ate dandelion and Kallas also found them very bitter, but was determined to solve the riddle. He first points out that foraging books downplay the bitterness and thinks that the oft-quoted difference between the first mild leaves in spring and bitter at flowering time is also exaggerated. As a result many people are
disappointed and permanently put off when they sample their first dandelion. I was with him here … He says that as part of his PhD he interviewed old timers in rural Michigan. Dandelions were the most common wild collected food in this group and, no, they weren’t bitter, they said. Upon asking how they prepared the dandelions they explained that the fresh leaves were mixed with bacon grease, bacon, eggs, salt and sometimes vinegar. Incidentally, salade de pissenlit et lardons (salad of dandelion and bacon) is still prepared in France today. In most cultures as you can see in the around-the-world review above, dandelions are almost never eaten fresh alone.”

Inundated with perennial seed!

Yesterday, I sowed some 110 varieties of perennial edibles….and I had about 20 left to sow….I thought I was finished for now! Guess what was in the post box!! Another 60 that need sowing now! It’s never happened before that SRGC (Scottish Rock Garden Club) and NARGS (North American Rock Garden Society) seed arrived together!
Did I mention that the Rock Garden seed exchanges are the best places to source unusual edible plants :)

Surroundings around the site of the 2018 Nordic Permaculture Festival

English: It has been announced that this year’s big permaculture event in the Nordic countries, the Nordic Permaculture Festival will be arranged in and around the fantastic village of Jondal at the Hardanger Academy for Peace, Development and Environment  (see Jondal is situated on the Hardanger Fjord just a half hour’s drive from the Folgefonna Glacier!

Norsk: Det er annonsert at årets store begivenhet innenfor Permakultur  i Norden, den Nordiske Permakultur Festivalen blir arrangert i og omkring fantastiske Jondal ved Hardangerakademiet (Nordisk senter for fred, utvikling og miljø)  Jondal ligger ved Hardangerfjorden bare en kort halvtimers kjøretur fra isbreen Folgefonna!


Wild “Asparagus” for the king and queen’s 80th birthdays?

I noticed in a recent number (3/2017) of the Norwegian Useful Plants excellent magazine “Sopp og Nyttevekster” a picture on page 41 (picture) accompanying a recipe for “Spring risotto with wild asparagus, sorrel and peas”, but I noticed a familiar plant in the picture which I don’t think is wild aspargus (Asparagus spp.) but rather another one of the 80 plants in my book, Ornithogalum pyrenaicum (Bath asparagus, aspargette in France or Latte di gallina dei Pirenei in Italy). This plant is in the lily family….and is commonly used over its wild range which stretches from the Caucasus through the Mediterranean countries as far north as the UK, where it may have been introduced by the Romans for food near to the city of Bath.
It’s noted in the article that wild asparagus was served to the Norwegian king and queen on their 80th birthdays….but it’s unclear if the picture is of this dish?
This isn’t the first time this species has turned up in Norway as my friend Ove Fosså told me a few years ago that he had found Ornithogalum pyrenaicum being sold as asparagus in a supermarket in Sandnes (Stavanger) and that he’d also noticed it captioned as asparagus in  Norwegian chef Eyvind Hellstrøm’s cookbook Bageteller…thanks to Ove Fosså for this picture:
Ove also noticed it on the pizza of a cheesemaker friend  “Lise Brunborg ( the cheesemaker who makes the great blue cheese Fønix in Stavanger). It turned out, she had it from her parents’ fridge and they had bought it at Madla Handelslag, a cooperative in Stavanger:
Bath asparagus has a mild but different taste but can be used like a wild asparagus!  
Originally the word asparagus is derived from a word meaning simply “spring shoot”.

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 (, 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!


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

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



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!
Skirret-chufa stir-fry
The tallest skirret challenge
(Nobody has challenged my world record 2.3m skirret)
Skirret shoots


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

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! 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: