Category Archives: Root crops

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.

Oxalis triangularis, the False Shamrock….an edimental tuberous house plant

I used to grow Oxalis triangularis, also known as the False Shamrock for the leaves and flowers. It’s also a perfect edimental house plant here as it likes cool indoor temperatures and struggles / goes dormant if it gets too warm.

I was given a couple of plants the other day, surplus to the plant sale at the botanical gardens. Repotting the plants yesterday, I noticed that there were quite a number of sizeable tubers and I had a taste for the first time. I was surprised how sweet they tasted!!

Spring beauty time in the garden!

My spring beauties are flowering in the garden, appearing a little before wood anemones (hvitveis).

The one I grow is Claytonia virginica and last summer I found this monster tuber:


I still haven’t got round to eating the tubers (Euell Gibbons was a fan!), but I regularly eat the spring leaves and flowers in mixed salads. I would love also to try  other tuberous species like Claytonia caroliniana and C. tuberosa but have never seen a source  :-(

More about spring beauties in Green Deane’s article here:

Spring Beauty

A visit to a Wasabi farm on the Izu peninsular in Japan

On 3rd April 2016 I was on an amazing study tour in Japan to witness first hand the cultivation of perennial vegetables. These are wild native species which were previously wild foraged in Japan but are now cultivated to meet demands for what is collectively known as sansai (mountain veggies).  There’s a whole section of supermarkets devoted to sansai. The one we are most familiar with in the west is wasabi, but for most of us it is in name only as it is almost always horseradish, mustard and food colouring which are the ingredients of wasabi sauce offered in sushi bars, rather than genuine wasabi (Wasabia japonica).

The farm we visited was on the Izu peninsula, a popular tourist area.  It was one of the most beautiful and naturalistic farms that I’ve witnessed anywhere and could be categorised as a permaculture forest garden with shade-loving wasabi growing in running water diverted from a river into an intricate series of neatly set out beds and intercropped with trees like loquat and other fruit. Most of the work seems to be done manually.

First, a few videos from the farm and below can be found an album of pictures of wasabi and other plants we saw, including at a shrine and associated vegetable garden adjacent to the farm! Wasabi has very narrower ecological requirements to produce well, including shade and running cool mountain spring water.

17th March 2019:  I’m adding three pictures at the bottom of a group of “wild” wasabi plants growing in quite a dry shady environment in the hills near to Toyota in Japan!


I’m adding below three pictures of a group of wasabi plants growing in quite a dry shady environment in the hills near to Toyota in Japan:

…and a flowering plant in the Kyoto Botanical Gardens:

Om Scorzonera: en hardfør helårs grønnsak

English speakers: See the summary at the bottom!

Skorsonerrot, svartrot, jordskonnerot eller bondeasparges Scorzonera hispanica er en av de nye rotgrønnsakene som har kommet til Norge de siste årene. De fingertykke røttene med hvitt fruktkjøtt serveres på de beste gourmetrestauranter. Men, dette er en grønnsak som har vært dyrket her til lands helt siden 1600-tallet. Dyrket som flerårig grønnsak kan planter bli gammel (minst 50 år pluss) og alle plantedelene kan spises fra vår-rosettene til de søte blomsterstengelene, blomsterknopper og kronblad. Jeg har tidligere skrevet artikler om denne planten både i Våre Nyttevekster i 2012 og  i min bok Around the World in 80 plants  fra 2014. Dette er en “må-ha” grønnsak i min hage!

De siste årene har det kommet frem mye nytt om denne planten og slektningene i den etnobotaniske litteraturen. Derfor tenkte jeg at det var på tide å oppdatere tidligere artikler og resultatet finner dere nedenfor (på norsk)! Jeg håper det faller i smak!

Om du kjenner til en gammel scorsonerrot plante, ta gjerne kontakt!

Takk til Landbruksdirektoratet som har støttet dette arbeidet gjennom prosjektet «Kartlegging – innsamling- dokumentasjon og vurdering av genetisk mangfold av spiselige planter i Norge»
Takk også til Guri-Kristina Batta Bjørnstad for korrekturlesing og faglige kommentarer!

Download (PDF, 1.74MB)

English Summary:  Scorzonera hispanica is one of the new root vegetables that has come to Norway in recent years. The finger-thick roots with white flesh are served at the best gourmet restaurants. However, this is a vegetable that has been cultivated here in Norway and elsewhere in Europe since the 17th century. Grown as a perennial vegetable, plants can grow old (at least 50 years plus) and all plant parts can be eaten from the spring rosettes to the sweet flower stems, flower buds and petals. I have previously written articles about this plant both in the Norwegian Useful Plants Society journal Våre Nyttevekster in 2012 and in my book Around the World in 80 plants from 2014. This is a “must-have” vegetable in my garden!

In recent years, much new information has emerged about this plant and its relatives in the ethnobotanical literature. Therefore, I thought it was time to update previous articles and the result can be found (in Norwegian) in the link! There is a comprehensive table in the article which is in English summarising the traditional use of this plant in Europe! I hope to translate this into English when I get more time….

The perennial Rampions: shade tolerant edientomentals!

This is my third article published here this week, written as part of a 3-year project funded Landbruksdirektoratet (Norwegian Agriculture Agency), this time in English! As the last two plants, Scorzonera and Good King Henry, the perennial rampions (Phyteuma spp.) are also multi-use plants, having both edible roots, spring shoots, unopened flower spikes and the flowers themselves. In addition, they love to be in the shade, have lovely flowers and are some of the best pollinator plants, perfect for the permaculture or forest garden or just for a shady spot in your garden! Plants that combine food, beauty and are insect friendly are what I call edientomentals!
I hope you enjoy the article which can be downloaded below!

Download (PDF, 3.46MB)