Category Archives: Annuals

Garden pictures 24th-25th September 2016

A collection of pictures from last weekend in the garden!

 

A Sonchus oleraceus variety?

It would be a great project to select Sonchus oleraceus…for new improved yielding and special forms like was done with wild chicory aIt would be a great project to select Sonchus oleraceus…for new improved yielding and special forms like was done with wild chicory and other vegetables… Last winter somebody found seed of an amazing frilly sow thistle being sold in an on-line chinese vegetabe catalogue….too good to be true…I should have noticed that the seed weren’t Sonchus when I sowed them…it seems it’s just an endive :( Lost in translation?

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The seed packet….
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The resulting plant.
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The flower stem
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I had seed left from the Chinese packet (right) and compared with common sow thistle seed collected in my garden…


Joke plants

Jokeplants
From top left and clockwise: Medicago radiata, Medicago scutellata “Sava” and Scorpiurus spp. (picture from my garden on 31st July 2004)
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Chorogi or chinese artichokes (Stachys affinis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read some 15 years ago (but would love a proper reference*) that the Victorians (and some more recent jokers too) were fond of practical jokes and would add various plant parts that resembled caterpillars, snails, worms etc to their salads. I call them collectively joke plants. I should grow them again…I love humour in the garden :)

Scorpiurus muricatus and S. vermiculatus (Prickly caterpillars, prickly scorpionstail / skorpionurt), Medicago scutellata “Sava” (snail medick), Medicago radiata (ray-podded medick) and chorogi or chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis) are examples. Pictures below (yes, I’ve grown them and smuggled them into my salads for the entertainment of unsuspecting visitors!)
*I find the following reference in Google Books:  A Joy of Gardening by Victoria Sackville-West (Harper, 1958). On pages 184-186, there’s a section called “Joke plants” which I’d love to get hold of! Anyone have this book?
Add 050916: Thanks to Alison Tindale who mentioned joke plants in her great blog  The Backyard Larder having seen a reference in the classic book by Fearing Burr The Field and Garden Vegetables of America Containing Full Descriptions of Nearly Eleven Hundred Species and Varietes; With Directions for Propagation,Culture and Use”  (1863). See 
http://backyardlarder.blogspot.hu/2013/06/rhubarb-vegetable.html (at the bottom)

Weekend garden pictures

A diverse selection of pictures from last weekend in the Edible Garden :)

Sonchus seed

I couldn’t resist these two packets in a Chinese seed catalogue someone tipped me about. Never seen common sow thistle seed for sale (first picture), perhaps a cultivar?…and the second is Sonchus brachyotus, which I’ve never seen seed of before, but mention in the book “Another closely related perennial species, S. brachyotus, is used by farmers in northern Jiangsu. The young rosettes are washed, mixed with wheat flour, steamed, cooled, seasoned with mashed garlic, chopped onion, salt, vinegar and soy sauce (no doubt disguising the bitter taste suggested by the name, Bitter Wheat-field Herb, in the process).”
Exciting times!

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Russian veggie seed

One of the members of Norwegian Seed Savers emailed me that she was going to Russia and would I like any seed….now, I have genetic defect  that leads to me not being able to say no to seed…so I said yes please and if you find any perennials like cutivars of sorrel (Rumex acetosa) I’d be particularly interested. The package arrived today. I had never imagined I was saying yes to 40 packets and there was one packet of Rumex acetosa, a variety called Schavel (Sorrel) “Belvijsky”. I’m wondering if this could possibly be the elusive French cultivar “Belleville” which I mention in my book?

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