Category Archives: Perennial vegetables

Udo record

My 18 year old udo (Aralia cordata) is probably the tallest ever this year (I’m 6 ft or 1.8m). After the coldest May for many years with plenty of rain, June is likely to be the warmest ever in this area with several days over 30C and a probable (to be confirmed) highest temperature for this area at 34.3C at the airport on Saturday. Cold damp spring temperatures are perfect for udo! I’m dreaming of fields of udo replacing the barley and oats!

More perennial kales

The perennial kales overwintered well the last two winters and are looking good. I showed a video of one I got from Walsall Allotments in Birmingham, UK a few years ago here last week: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=25787
The first below is one of Chris Homanics’ perennial crosses (I lost track of which cross this is). It has large dark glossy leaves (a bit reminiscent of Glazed collards) and hasn’t flowered, concentrating instead its energy into producing leaves! This is a keeper.
This is followed by non-flowering offspring of  my Daubenton cross with Purple Sprouting Broccoli in 2012 and still alive https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1632. These have inherited the daubenton genes but one is taller and has bigger leaves. I’m still playing with the offspring on the broccoli side, but they are less perennial but some have survived for 5 years but the broccolis are smaller than the father, but still useful.
Finally is a current picture of Daubenton variegated.
AND Diamond back moth (kålmøll) is now here in large numbers (over 100) and will have almost no impact on these kales, nor will other pests!

1. Homanics Norway perennial kale

2. Daubenton like (from Daubenton x Late Purple Broccoli cross)

3. Daubenton variegated 

 

Mallows in season #2

…and my second best mallow is the hollyhock mallow or greater musk mallow / rosekattost  (Malva alcea), hardy and reliably perennial, here with perennial kale “Daubenton”, flower buds and stems of Scorzonera hispanica, Johannes’ shallot (Allium x cornutum; see  https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22601) and annual chopsuey greens or shungiku (Glebionis coronaria, formerly Chrysanthemum coronarium).

Mallows in season

Mallows (Malva spp.) are now in season for harvesting and will from now until autumn be an important source of greens and edible flowers. The best part are the flower buds with surrounding leaves. We started earlier in the week with musk mallow / moskuskattost (Malva moschata), a reliable perennial here that also self-sows in just about the right quantity. Traditionally, Malvas were often used in soups, so it was a good addition to pea soup along with 
Hybrid onions (Allium senescens x)
Rumex acetosa (mixed Russian cultivars); sorrel / engsyre
Campanula trachelium tops (nettle leaved bellflower / nesleklokke)
Myrrhis odorata unripe seed pods (sweet cicely / spansk kjørvel)
Origanum vulgare (oregano / bergmynte)

Ornithogalum pyramidale

It’s always a nice surprise to discover a plant in flower in the garden that I thought long dead! Yesterday I discovered a plant that I’m pretty sure is Ornithogalum pyramidale (Pyramidal star-of-Bethlehem). I planted 8 two year old plants in this location in 2016. This species is used in a similar way to Bath asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum) as I wrote in my book:
“There are at least three other similar species used in a similar way in the Mediterranean, Ornithogalum narbonense (mainly in eastern parts) and O. pyramidale and O. creticum (Dogan et al., 2004; Rivera et al., 2006).”
I’ll have to rediscover it a bit earlier next year!


Flowering waterleafs

A new species in the garden this year is the Pacific waterleaf or slender-stem waterleaf ( Hydrophyllum tenuipes) from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. It was a food plant of First Peoples on the West Coast. Mine came courtesy of the Gothenburg Botanical Garden.


Indian salad or Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) is also currently in flower and features elsewhere on this blog, being one of my favourite spring salad plants and one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants. 

I’ve failed several times to establish Hydrophyllum canadense, the species I’d expected to be easier. The other I grow is Hydrophyllum appendiculatum which is biennial and not yet in flower.
 


Hostas, scapes and broccolis

Last night’s greens included all my 16 Hostas, Allium scorodoprasum (sand leek / bendelløk) scapes; broccolis from sea kale (strandkål), ornamental sea kale (Crambe cordifolia) and Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis); and flower buds of two daylilies Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus and Hemerocallis dumortieri!

Sustainable kales

I’m more and more convinced that perennial kales are the way forward. After two mild winters I’ve had good overwintering of most varieties except Tree Collards from California.
The film below shows a kale which I call “Walsall Allotments” which I found growing at Walsall Allotments in Birmingham (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=2868) on the allotment of a Kenyan man. I never managed to find out where he got these kale from, but Kenya is the only country was the only country where perennial kales were still grown commercially at the time I was researching my book. At the end of the video we see another perennial Brassicaceae, sea kale (strandkål) Crambe maritima. Note that the variety Lily White flowers significantly earlier than my other varieties.


A few days ago the plague of Brassica growers, diamond back moth (kålmøll) arrived in significant numbers here and I see on various FB groups that folk are using floating mulch and enviromesh to protect their crops. I had done the same for years, but decided that I wanted to grow vegetables without non-sustainable oil based products like Agryl fleece which is no doubt also a major source of plastic fibres in nature. Agryl is also used to bring on annual crops earlier. However, there is an alternative plastic free and sustainable alternative using perennials. As you can see, my kales having grown for two and a half months are large and have been providing kale leaves since early spring. Their main growth period is now over but will be resumed in autumn. Although diamond back moths and other butterflies lay their eggs on these kales damage isn’t significant. Therefore I am totally unworried by this invasion of moths!
Of course there are problems with perennial kales too, such as cold hardiness, deer and woodpigeons (rådyr / ringduer) in the winter and lack of diversity, but breeding projects by amateurs such as Chris Homanics in Oregon are changing all that!

Norwegian quinoa and swamp greens medley

13th June 2020 perennial greens were stir-fried and served with quinoa and served with Allium ursinum flowers.
Allium validum (swamp or Pacific onion) with flower shoot
Saxifraga pensylvanica (swamp saxifrage)
Gunnera tinctoria
Asparagus officinalis (asparges)
Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål broccolis)
Perennial kale “Walsall Allotments” (flerårig kål)
Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke)
Aster macrophyllus (big-leaf aster)
flowering shoots of various Russian Rumex acetosa cultivars (sorrel / engsyre)

The greens were stir-fried with chili and garlic and served with Norwegian organic quinoa with ramsons (ramsløk) flowers: