The Many Uses of Udo

For the first time freely available is my article in Permaculture Magazine  about my largest and most exciting vegetable Udo (Aralia cordata)! See the link near the bottom of the page and please subscribe here, they do a great job, but need our support! Go to…………….

To witness the underground cultivation of Udo in large caverns under Tokyo (mentioned in the article) was one of the reasons for embarking on a study tour of Japan with Naturplanteskolen in Denmark in Spring 2016, and during the visit we discovered that you can have one more layer in a forest garden……..

The Permaculture Magazine article: is an excerpt from my book Around the World in 80 plants (to buy the book please follow this link:

Download (PDF, 216KB)

Here’s a FB album by Naturplanteskolen of the underground Udo tour!

Thanks to Tei Kobayashi who acted as interpreter and liasing with the local authorities, to Ken Minatoya in the Netherlands who also initially called the city clerks for me and Joan Bailey for helping out, accompanying us on the visit and also for writing a local article, see here

I will write more about this visit as well as my other encounters with Udo in Japan as soon as I can!!


Wanted!! I’m pretty sure I’ve lost these really tasty raspberries which I called “Apricot” and spread to various folk back in the days of Sjølbergeren (a self-sufficiency magazine here in Norway).
I originally got these through a visit to the Kvithamar research station in Stjørdal which is quite near here…they were breeding yellow raspberries (one of them that has become popular was eventually called Varnes). We were allowed a taste, a seed trapped in my teeth and when I got home I sowed it ;) The resultant fruit was much more tasty than Varnes (bred for a number of other characters too, not just taste) and I wanted others to experience it…but now I don’t have it any more, so please if you still have it, please can I have a bit back?
Apricotberries with black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis)
Sitting under my birch tree one day in 2009 and the tree was offering me free nutty tasting birch seed on my apricotberry porridge!


Yam beans

For the first time this year I have two different Yam beans growing in my office in Trondheim, Ahipa and Jicama (Pachyrhizus ahipa og Pachyrhizus erosus) . I’ve grown and eaten Jicama before and here’s an album of pictures about my experiences of this delicious vegetable…worth growing for a little taste each year!

Perennialen II: Alvastien Telste

An album of pictures from my short Perennialen II visit with Eirik Lillebøe Wiken​ and Hege Iren Svendsen​ at and around Alvastien Telste​ in Hardanger. Impressive nature, good beer and fruit, good company and just relaxing this time! It poured with rain on the morning that we’d planned to look properly around the Forest Garden, so that will have to wait for next year!  Watch this space for the announcement of the next Perennialen event at this wonderful place, now a Permaculture LAND centre, next summer!! Hope to see you there!



Garden pictures 24th-25th September 2016

A collection of pictures from last weekend in the garden!


Alvastien Telste LAND Centre: the dramatic approach road….

Alvastien Telste is Norway’s first LAND project (LAND officially started up in Norway yesterday) located on a side arm of the Hardangerfjord in beautiful surroundings…this was my next stop on my short tour of Western Norway. This little film (shot unknown to Eirik Lillebøe Wiken​ who was driving and narrating) shows the dramatic approach to this place, run by Eirik and Hege Iren Svendsen​!
The road is very exposed to rock slides…see the size of the boulders that have tumbled down the hill and the repairs to the road and notice at 1:00 the sign warning of falling rocks 
In the last part, we enter the forest garden area before seeing the house!