In 2008 I still had a greenhouse. After it was destroyed in the 26th December 2011 I decided not to rebuild it and to only grow hardy vegetables. However, in 2008, I grew a number of less hardy vegetables including several from the Andes mountains. One of these was Achocha (Cyclanthera pedata), although yields of fruits wasn’t very big (I grew it for several years from 2002-2012) and I would have probably been better off eating the shoots and leaves which are also edible and pretty good! Interestingly, my Nepalese guests (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6118) told me it was commonly grown in Nepal and they not only used the small green fruits, but the top shoots and the black seeds. The latter are roasted, ground and mixed with salt, chili and perhaps lemon. The powder is also used as a flavouring in chutney!
Picture: Achocha “Fat Baby” fruits
Pictures : Various Andean vegetables in my garden on 12th July Quinoa, Yellow Finn, Ulluco#1, Shetland Blue Eye; Achocha Fat Baby, Amaranth, Russepotet, Oca, Blå Congo, Ulluco#2, Mashua
Hablitzia roots have an astonishing number of shoots waiting to grow if you cut them down…I like to think that this is an adaptation to human grazing pressure, so that we can repeatedly harvest without killing the plants ;)
Root cuttings work to quickly multiply plants , just ensure you use a sharp knife and have at least one shoot on each root slice! See the pictures!
Congratulations to my friend Ronny Staquet who recently won a prestigious prize for his efforts in popularising Hablitzia at the Fête des Plantes de Printemps at Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard just outside of Paris! See http://www.wallogreen.com/blog/?p=231
I’m proud too as this plant originated in Malvik. Ronny has over the years obtained most of my accessions (some 7 different) in return for help with this web site!! Rumour has it that Ronny has selected a golden leaved Hablitzia from this material!! :) Looking forward to that!
Cleaning out my office and I found a local newspaper article about an open day in my garden almost 13 years ago (August 2004) with a picture of me and my only 3 year old Hablitzia (noted in the caption as my favourite plant: a perennial spinach!) that’s still going strong and already in vigorous growth!
10 years ago in July 2006, I received an email seed request from a Sergey Banketov in the Caucasus. I don’t usually trade seed in summer, but he had such an interesting list of wild collected species from the Caucasus that I made an exception and we traded seeds. At the time I was writing my article on Hablitzia tamnoides for Permaculture Magazine and on the offchance I asked “Do you know the plant Hablitzia tamnoides? It was introduced to Sweden in about 1870 as an ornamental plant and later it was realised that it was also a very good edible plant (used in the springtime as spinach) . It is still grown in some gardens in Scandinavia for food. However, I can find no reference to its use as a food plant in its home range (the Caucasus). Do you have any information about its use? I am also interested in seed from wild populations and photographs of the plant in the wild as I am writing an article about it.”
Sergey, a botanist, lived in the city of Pyatigorsk in the Stavropol region of Russia (Northern Caucasus) and he quickly replied:
“I know a plant of Hablitzia tamnoides. This plant grows with us in the vicinity of the city. And like for the first time it is described from mountain Mashuk. I shall collect seeds and I shall try to photograph her. Unfortunately the information on it is very poor. I hear the first time that she is edible. With us we do not use even for decorative purposes. I shall try to learn about it at work (Botanical institute) and in the pharmaceutical academy.”
Just 4 days later he sent me these 4 pictures of the plant growing on northern slope at the bottom of the mountain Mashuk (see the images for the location). Further he told me that nobody knows the plant apart from botanists!
In January 2007, Sergey sent me his new seed list which now included Hablitzia! In February, I received a good amount of wild seed, collected from 3-4 plants at the bottom of Mt. Mashuk (my own single plant produced almost no seed) and in the Permaculture Magazine article an offer of seed was given, the source being Sergey.