Category Archives: Perennial vegetables

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?”

Perennial puha, Sonchus kirkii in Malvik

Sonchus kirkii is the original perennial sow thistle (puha) of the Maori which I’ve long wanted to try (see the account in my book Around the World in 80 plants of this species and annual super(healthy)weed Sonchus oleraceus which replaced it in Maori kitchens! Probably not hardy here, I overwintered it inside having finally layed my hand on some seed! Variously known as  puha, shore puha or New Zealand sow thistle (syn. Sonchus asper var. littoralis), its habitat is described by the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network as http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=205: “Coastal. Usually on cliff faces in or around damp seepages where it often grows with the blue green alga Nostoc and fern Blechnum blechnoides. This species has a distinct preference for base rich rocks such as basalt, calcareous mudstones, siltstones, limestone or apatite-rich greywacke faces. On some offshore islands this species extends up into coastal scrub and herbfield. It occasionally grows on stabilised sand dunes. Indications are that this species once occupied a wider range of habitats but has retreated to those less suited to other faster growing introduced weeds.”
I will hopefully eat it for the first time next summer!
NZPCN states that “Easily distinguished from all the other naturalised Sonchus species by the very large, glaucous, non-spinose leaves” (this includes S.arvensis –perennial sow thistle and annuals S. asper and S. oleraceus)
Meanwhile, here are a few pictures:

A 2012 visit to the Århus CSA near Skien, Norway

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of a memorable visit to the Århus CSA scheme and Tom Harald Eckell’s magical vegetables with Rita AmundsenMargaret M. Meg Anderson and Veronica Samycia!
Never have I been so impressed by a field of vegetables (organic too), the astonishing diversity, many of which I’d never seen before…..and above all Tom Harald’s gentle modest manner in the midst of brilliance….my life changed that day…
We all sensed that we’d passed into a parallel universe for the duration of the visit and we all sensed simultaneously on the journey home our return! My life changed that day 

 

Walk with Bosse in the Gothenberg Botanics

I visited Bo “Bosse” Blomquist last year outside of Gothenburg and despite it being a bit late in the day and almost dark at the end, I was really impressed by his collection of edible trees, shrubs and bushes! He works in Gothenburg and is a regular visitor to the gardens! We agreed to meet before my talk and a group of friends also joined us!! It was great to walk in the garden with Bosse as he knew all the interesting edible woody plants! Thanks!! Here are a selection of pictures!

Around the world in 80 Alliums

Yesterday, I gave my first talk about my (second) love of onions (alternative title All you wanted to know about Alliums but were afraid to ask!)….fittingly in the nursery with I believe the best selection of Alliums being sold as foodplants in Europe if not the world , my friend Aiah Noack’s Naturplanteskolen just outside of Copenhagen. Aiah is the author of an excellent book Fantasilater (fantasy salads), only in Danish so far which also includes several Alliums. My book Around the World in 80 plants mentions some 45 Allium species!
In a little over 2 hours I covered about 66 of the world’s cold hardy onions and over 80 if we include cultivars and subspecies…
Other onion related topics were also covered, such as “grow your own fireworks and Xmas decorations”, “Allium as a dancing partner”, the Allium microphone (Alliomike) and the garlic scape armband to keep “wild” animals, trolls and mosquitos away (Transylvanian Garlic keeps vampires away too)… It was a fun afternoon with yet another great group of edimentals fans! ;) 

The video  is of one of my pictures about drying Persian Shallots with a shot of my drying racks over my wood burning stove. Someone noticed that you could actually see heat rising through the racks!!!! (a wood burning stove was on behind the projector) ;)

Talk in the Gothenburg botanical gardens

Tomorrow evening, I’ll be giving two talks in the botanical garden in Gøteborg (Gothenburg) in Sweden, the first at 1700 is sold out, but there are I think still tickets for the second at 1900!
I’ll be selling signed copies of my book Around the World in 80 plants at SEK 250 (remember cash/paypal also accepted)!
The talk will be a little different this time as I will be showing many pictures of edimentals (edible ornamentals) taken in the botanical gardens, but keeping to my Around the World in 80 plants / perennial and forest gardening vegetable theme :) Welcome!
 
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Recent Alliums in the garden; August 2017