Category Archives: Root crops

JA Quiche

Jerusalem artichokes (JAs / jordskokk) in quiche? Why not?
Yesterday’s quiche included JAs, Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde), Aegopodium podograria (ground elder / skvallerkål), dandelion (løvetann), rehydrated dried chantarelles (kantarell), garlic and chili and poppy seed (opiumvalmue) topping. With a 100% whole grain Svedjerug (old Norwegian rye) and barley (bygg) crust.

Caraway root breeding and Karvekaalsuppe

I’ve been selecting caraway (Carum carvi) through 4 generations now for larger roots. I plan to have a larger number of plants from next year at our community garden (Væres Venner). I selected 5 plants for seed yesterday and they were quite a decent size. The remainder with the greens were used in a delicious karvekaalsuppe (caraway soup) yesterday with sand leek / bendelløk (Allium scorodoprasum). I plan to offer seed from this selection in KVANN’s (Norwegian Seed Savers) autumn catalogue!

Taro harvest

Taro (Colocasia esculenta) ia an important root crop in tropical and subtropical climates, but is also surprisingly hardy so that I can have it out in the garden the whole summer with temperaures close to zero. I’ve grown Taro as an attractive edible house plant for over 15 years and I harvest the edible corms about once a year! 

Yesterday, we cooked and fried in olive oil the largest corm and served with salt and chili:

Some years we also eat the leaves, and my Nepalese friends taught me how to prepare them here:
See more taro pictures from Malvik here:
It’s sadly less easy to grow it as a house plant these days as greenflies have taken a taste for it :(

Mauka in Malvik, Bergen and Belgium

(Norsk forklaring nedenfor)
Mauka (Mirabilis expansa) is a root vegetable grown, amongst others by the Maukallajta Indians in the Andes and I cultivated it for the first and only time outdoors in Malvik in 2012 with seed from Owen Smith … and it grew vigorously  laterally (therefore the epithet expansa) and I even got a harvest! Unfortunately, I can’t remember tasting the roots and think that they simply rotted in store before I could try them. But, I did eat the leaves in a salad.
Below you will find an album of pictures from my trial in 2012 (I later tried twice with seeds from Bergen Botanical Garden but did not get germination). In Bergen Botanical Garden, I saw a lush plant at Milde on October 22, 2014 (in the collection of vegetables from the Andes) and the next day I was surprised to find it in the rock garden at the Museumsplassen (pictures from Bergen are in a separate album below)!
Norsk: Mauka (Mirabilis expansa) er en rotgrønnsak dyrket bl.a. av Maukallajta indianerne i Andesfjellene og jeg dyrket den for første og eneste gang på friland i Malvik i 2012…og den vokste utrolig mye sideveis (derfor epiteten expansa) og jeg fikk faktisk noe å høste (jeg hadde ingen tro etter dårlige erfaringer med andre planter fra Andesfjellene)! Jeg kan dessverre ikke huske at jeg smakte på røttene og tror at de rett og slett råtnet før jeg kunne prøve. Men, jeg spiste bladene i en salat.
Nedenfor finner dere bilder fra mitt forsøk i 2012 (jeg prøvde senere to ganger med frø fra Bergen Botaniske Hage, men fikk ingen spiring).  I Bergen har jeg sett en frodig plante på Milde 22. oktober 2014 (i samlingen av grønnsaker fra Andesfjellene) og neste dag var jeg overrasket å finne den i fjellhagen på Museumsplassen (bilder fra Bergen i en separat album nedenfor!

I first saw Mauka in the “flesh” on 10th October 2008 when I visited Frank van Keirbilck’s garden in Scheldewindeke, Belgium (I met Frank and mauka through the Homegrown Goodness forum). I call his garden “Andes in Flanders)! Here are a couple of pictures from Frank’s garden that day:

Pictures from Bergen in 2014:

Parsnip men!

When my kids were young I made up a now legendary (in our family at least) story that I told them at bedtime about the Potato Men….potatoes that lifted themselves out of the ground at night in our garden and how they invaded the local area….
Well, it seems that there’s a parsnip men story in the making too….caught these in the garden about to escape! (or it could just be frost heave in the course of the winter!)

The winter’s first salad shoot salad

The first winter shoots were harvested from the cellar today. It is almost totally dark in the cellar and currently about +6C. The blanched shoots in the picture are (from L to R) dandelions (løvetann), perennial kales (flerårige kål) and catalogna chicory (sikkori). Otherwise you can see Korean celery (Dystaenia takesimana), perennial celery / fool’s watercress (Apium nodiflorum), turnip (nepe) , carrot (gulrot)  and lemon balm (sitronmelisse).
The salad was decorated with Begonia flowers from the living room!

Yacon and sunchoke harvest

This week, I harvested both yacon (grown in large pots and brought inside before the first frosts to grow on) and its close relative Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke), one of our best varieties Dagnøytral (aka Dayneutral , Stampede and Bianca) and the best Canadian variety in trials at Sørbråten farm near Oslo.

Grated Turkish Rocket

Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis) is a major invasive in Southern Norway. It is believed that it was spread to Europe in a big way in horse forage that followed the Russian army that was victorious over Napoleon in 1814, reaching France. However, this species was being grown in the Chelsea Physic Garden in London as early as the 1730s.
Thanks to the Thai community in Oslo who discovered this great free to forage edible in Oslo, it has become better known as a summer vegetable in Norway – the best part is the flowering stems and “broccolis” which are milder than the rather strong tasting spring leaves.
However, the roots can be dug this time of year to make grated rocket using a similar method to that used for horseradish! Why not give it a go and help control the plant!
The ones I used were a bit fibrous, but the taste was excellent!




My biggest parsnip?

Nothing compared to the monsters that can be grown in the UK, but this is just about the largest parsnip (pastinakk) I’ve harvested here.  This is both due to our short, cool summers, but also my shady garden contributes to lower yields. Yesterday, I hacked my way through the frozen soil with an iron bar to harvest my parsnips and despite the cold autumn the yield was surprisingly good, very satisfying work!! Back in the 80s and 90s, the only people I knew growing this here were ex-pat Brits. For us, christmas wouldn’t be christmas without roasted parsnip! Despite lower yields, it is still definitely worth growing parsnips here, just grow them more densely to increase the yield (similarly, I always grow leeks 3 together as the cool short season limits the size of them). Only two years ago, the national gardening club wrote: “Parsnip is a root vegetable that is not well known, but it has many common features with hamburg parsley. The yellow-white root is both strong and sweet in taste and can be used in several different dishes, especially in ratatouille it does well!”
Another vegetable that there isn’t any tradition of growing here, despite the ease of growing it is broad bean (bondebønne), traditionally animal feed.