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!
I transplanted a 3 year old pot grown Hablitzia plant yesterday and this video shows the many replacement shoots ready to grow quickly if the main shoots are harvested or grazed, presumably an anti-grazing strategy which we can use to our advantage!
It snowed all day yesterday, but it’s unfrozen underneath and spring bulbs like snowdrops (snøklokke), coltsfoot (hestehov), winter aconite (vinterblom), Crocus tommasianus and Hepatica transylvanica are in flower under the snow. Remembering where the edibles are located, I can still harvest food under the snow:
Great to be home again to nutritious vegetarian food! Presenting this week’s two dishes, each lasting two days: dried broad bean falafels (with golpar spice) and a mixed cellar veggie wholegrain sourdough pizza with masses of forced dandelions and perennial kale shoots!
The Less than Extreme Salad Man has been in action with the year’s multi-species salad! A few hours before the polar low storm hit and snow covered the greens, I did a forage around the garden, finding about 15 species, mostly onions, but there were fresh dandelions, perennial kales and the first Hablitzia shoots. These were added to a selection of stored vegetables from the cellar, including blanched dandelion and chicory shoots which had grown in the above average temperatures. About 30 different veggies!
The last roots I harvest in the autumn are perennial vegetables for eating in the winter. I usually do this as late as possible and some years harvestng involves breaking through the ice with a pick axe! With daytime temperatures of -7C forecast for next week, this may be the last chance! Yesterday was the annual horserdish (pepperrot) harvest….the big roots are for forcing young shoots as a vegetable (usually blanched) and the younger roots for grated horseradish! An annual dig also serves to limit the spread of horseradish which can be a problem in some gardens!
See my webinar from last winter on winter vegetables here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf1ucsGrU2U
The other day I discovered a long suffering Hosta that I’d covered with a bucket in the spring. Surprisingly the blanched shoots were in good condition despite the warmth. We ate them as a salad with a simple dipping sauce (roasted sesame oil, soy sauce and pepper! And it was delicious, mild tasting, crispy and refreshing, the texture and shape of the leaf reminding my friend of artichoke! The day afterwards, I ate the rest lightly fried with garlic and chili in an omelette with sea kale broccolis! I’m sure you can use any Hosta for this. In Japan, Hosta montana is the main species cultivated for the markets. We found blanched Hosta shoots or urui in all the supermarkets in late march / early april during my study trip to Japan. However, H. montana is not an accepted species name by the Plant List (plantlist.org) and is often given as a variety, H. sieboldiana var montana or var gigantea. However, on the taxonomy account at http://www.hostalibrary.org/species/pdf/species_part1.pdf, it is stated that H. montana is so obviously different from H. sieboldiana that even the average gardener can tell them apart! For this reason, I used H. montana in my book as it is still commonly used in horticulture. For a list of cultivar names known as H. montana, see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/montana. Hosta undulata is also noted on the Japanese Hosta wiki page as being used. This is no longer accepted as a species and is considered to be a group of cultivars H. “Undulata” (see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/undulata for a list of cultivars associated with Undulata).
On the Japanese Hosta wiki (translated with Google translate), the main producing area for urui is given as Yamagata prefecture (north of Tokyo on the other side of Honshu), which ship light green young shoots which are used for salads , pickles , stir-fry , with miso sauce , vinegar miso , miso soup , mixed rice , sushi rolls etc. This explains why we didn’t see the production of Hosta during our farm trips south of Tokyo.
The Japanese name is 雪うるい (yuki urui) which means snow leaf or icicles (google the Japanese name to see many pictures). They are produced in darkened greenhouses for an extended season or the rows are mounded outdoors. The production techniques seem to be different judging by the colour of the urui sold in supermarkets.