Category Archives: Perennial vegetables

Norwegian Seed Savers establish a guild for Perennial and Forest Gardening vegetables

KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) have established a guild for perennial vegetables and food forest vegetables (free for members of KVANN, go to kvann.no and click on “Bli med i KVANN” to join)
Norw: Nå er KVANNs laug for Flerårige og Skogshage Grønnsaker formelt etablert og vi har en FB gruppe som venter for dere som er interessert å være med (gratis og kun for medlemmer av KVANN). Det blir en del godbiter kun for laugmedlemmene i løpet av vinteren og et permagrønnsaks-kurs i Malvik til våren primært for medlemmene! Gå til https://www.facebook.com/groups/818621048572751 og svarer på spørsmålene for å melde deg inn!

Preparing dandelions for forcing

The weather was a bit milder over the last few days, thawing sufficiently so that I could crowbar dandelion roots from the frozen soil and pot them up ready for winter forcing which will give a never ending supply of delicious, nutritious midwinter greens for free later in the winter (just a little effort)!
Just:
1. Dig up the roots

2. Remove (and eat) any green leaves

3. Plant the roots in soil up to the crown and then cover the crowns in a couple of centimetres of clean sand (I use buckets)

4. Store in the coolest place possible to keep them dormant  (it could also be outside if you don’t have a root cellar)

5. Move to a warmer place ( a cool room works well) a couple of weeks before you need the shoots (keep dark if you want delicious blanched shoots)

(This is the same method you can use for forcing chicory, but to my mind dandelions are even tastier and they sow themselves….and all you have to do is NOT to weed and harvest instead!)

 

Dried Aster Scaber

One of my favourite perennial vegetables and a fantastic edimental is Aster scaber (nowadays Doellengeria scabra), here harvested in spring in my garden:

Harvested Aster scaber shoots in my garden

In September, in a farmer’s market in Atlanta, Georgia I found packets of dried Aster scaber leaves (I had searched unsuccessfully for chwinamul in other Korean supermarkets, but hadn’t found it before):

Packet of dried Aster scaber

On the front of the packet is a WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm!

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm!

On the other hand, on the back of the packet it says: “Keep your health with benefits of HAETAE Sangol Hyanggi Namuls”

On the back of the packet: “Keep your health with benefits of Haetae “Sangol Hyanggi” Namuls

Is the reason for the cancer warning on the packet due to the fact that the same packet is used for a range of dried vegetables and shiitake mushrooms (namul), including bracken fern which contains a carcinogen, ptaquiloside (however, it is both water-soluble and is destroyed by heat )

Is the reason for the cancer warning on the packet due to the fact that the packet is used for a range of dried vegetables and shiitake mushrooms (namul), including bracken fern which contains a carcinogen, ptaquiloside which is both water-soluble and is destroyed by heat.

I was also surprised to read what would seem to be the excessive pre-preparation by boiling for 20 mins., followed by a soak overnight and then rinsing 7 times, to remove the bitterness.  I’ve never detected bitterness and have understood it’s also used in salads. I wonder also why they are known as “thumbs”?

I was also surprised by the pre-preparation by boiling for 20 mins., followed by a soak overnight and then rinsing 7 times, to remove the bitterness.

Parasenecio hastatus

I’ve harvested seed of a distinctive tall oriental woodlander this week,  Parasenecio hastatus.  It’s taller than I am and reminds me of some of the tall Lactuca species I saw in North America recently, perhaps growing in similar habitats in the Far East.

It’s a wild species in China, Japan, Korea and the Russian Far East.  My most comprehensive Japanese foraging book says something like this (thanks to Chris Sonnenschein for the translation): “shoots are harvested when 20-30 cm long. Then when ready to cook, like asparagus, break/snap the shoots with your hand and discard the more woody end. Dice up the remainder into chunks. Boil in salted water. Rinse. Parboil in normal water just briefly. Eaten with Bonito flakes (fish), Soy Sauce & Mayonnaise. Also the leaves from the new shoots (this year’s growth) can be eaten, especially as tempura, through summer”.

I’ve posted summer pictures of hastata  in an earlier blog post, please see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18758.

I wouldn’t recommend eating a lot of these as they may contain alkaloids, but they are an interesting woodlander for occasional harvest from a species rich forest garden.

I have 5 or 6 Parasenecios in the garden currently including the variegated cultivar  Parasenecio hastatus subsp orientalis “Shiro Sankou Hakikomi Fu”

 

Perennial Vegetables and Edimentals in Maine

A great evening at the Resilience Hub in Portland, Maine after a tour of Aaron Parker’s Edgewood Nursery where I’m staying! Possibly the best stocked edible perennial nursery that I’ve visited! More on this when I return!
Aaron was one of the first I sent seed of Hablitzia to in North America early in 2009, after Jonathan Bates (Eric Toensmeier’s partner at Holyoke). Hablitzia is now a best seller at the nursery and Aaron told me is also grown commercially in Maine, particularly valuable due to the early spring harvest! Another person I sent seed to in 2009, Greg Martin was also there last night!
Thanks also to Aaron for setting up my tour of New England!

With Joe Hollis in Paradise!

What an amazing place, at Joe Hollis’ Mountain Gardens in North Carolina yesterday!
My favourite forest garden anywhere!! At 77, Joe is still expanding having purchased more land and with several new projects!
Thanks to all who came including the three who drove down from Ohio for the event (9+ hours!)
The picture shows me and Joe in his largest patch of Udo (Aralia cordata). Very much more when I get the time….on to Atlanta today and the gig at the Botanical Garden tomorrow!

Pizza Hemerocallis

Tonight’s pizza ingredients found on a random forage in the garden: 3 different day lily species flower buds, including the first yellow Hemerocallis altissima, H. citrina (in the middle) with Malva moschata and M. alcea, second flush nettles, Campanula trachelium (new leaves after cutting down), Sonchus oleraceus (common sow thistle) and broad beans, with shallots, garlic, chili, oregano and topped with the year’s first poppy seed!

Hablitzia accession overview 2019

Hablitzia accession overview 2019

The following gives an overview of the sources of Hablitzia I know of (if I’ve missed any, please let me know!)

  1. My oldest plant is 17 years old and came from Sweden (unknown background)
  2.  Jonathan Bates received his plants from a German Botanical Garden. I contacted the German garden, but no reply. I think Jon and Eric Toensmeier lost theirs….
  3.  Justin West collected seed in the wild in Armenia. He struggled with them in New York and lost them before moving west.
  4. Tycho Holcomb and Karoline Nolsø Aaen in Denmark collected one accession in Georgia (found at the entrance to a cave)
  5. I received wild collected seed from botanist Sergey Banketov in the Russian Caucasus (near Pyatigorsk)
  6. I have one plant from the only relic Norwegian plant at Hadsel in Northern Norway
  7. I received seed of plants from two relic Swedish locations
  8.  #2
  9. I received seed from about 5 relic plants in Finland and Estonia
  10. #2
  11. #3
  12. #4
  13. #5
  14. I was given seed from a plant at the Uppsala Botanical Garden in Sweden in 2009.
  15. I also received seed from a Swedish herb nursery (pre-1970, unknown source).
  16. I’ve seen plants of unknown origin in the following botanical gardens: Gothenburg
  17. Oslo
  18. Copenhagen
  19. Chelsea Physic Garden (London)
  20. I have one accession from Arche Noah (Austria) – unknown source

Seed of many of these have been deposited with Nordgen (Nordic Genebank) who funded some of the collection work that I did. However, they have struggled with regenerating new seed of the different varieties as it seems you need more than one type to produce seed.

I’ve sent cuttings from several of my plants to Ronny Staquet of Wallogreen in Belgium. I have about 10 accessions in my garden, but they self-sow readily and have become mixed up in one place where I had several plants growing close together.

Edimental of the Day is Malva alcea

Malva alcea (greater musk-mallow, cut-leaved mallow, vervain mallow or hollyhock mallow / Norw: rosekattost) is a mallow native to southwestern,  central and eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain north to southern Sweden and east to Russia and Turkey.  It is easy to confuse with musk mallow (Malva moschata). It is a much larger plant than moschata. My plant is the upright form Malva alcea var. fastigiata and reaches 1.8m, double the height of moschata. I had this for many years, but it was sterile and I suspected it was a hybrid with moschata. It finally died after some 15 years and I sourced new seed through the Scottish Rock Gardening Club seed list in winter 2012-2013. It grew quickly, produced seed and has self-sowed in a few places in the garden, growing well in the half shady conditions my garden provides for. Here it is, filmed from my balcony today:

It is often planted in gardens as it flowers for a long time in summer. It has naturalised in the UK (see https://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/plant/malva-alcea) and also here in Norway there are a number of observations, particularly around Oslo.

This summer, I’ve been using this mallow much more than before as I now have a lot of it and it has replaced moschata in a few places, suggesting that these may be hybrids! This really is one of the most useful perennial vegetables in the summer garden. Along with other mallows you can pick off leaves, young flower buds and flowers over an extended period! I use them in various stir-fry dishes, in soups, on pizza, in quiches and mixed salads!

It is surprisingly not often mentioned as edible in ethnobotanical studies (maybe underreported due to confusion with moschata?). However, a quick search revealed it being used traditionally in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria!

If I had written my book today, this may well have replaced moschata. I did mention alcea in the book under the account of moschata as follows:

I have less experience with Malva alcea, greater musk mallow, which is, as the English name suggests, a larger plant. It has a similar range to musk mallow, except that it isn’t found in the UK. I’ve only grown the form ‘Fastigiata’ which is long-lived and a nice ornamental, needing staking up during the summer. My plant was sterile and is
thought possibly to be a hybrid between M. alcea and M. moschata. The flowers are also good in salads.

Bees love it too!

Here are a few pictures of it in the garden today: