Snow onions

A new video on my youtube channel, the wonderfully exclusive SNOW ONION from the China and the Himalaya https://youtu.be/5mOcQ4aUQVI
We’re back in the Onion Garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim, Norway on 10th May and the first Allium is in flower. It’s Allium humile, known as the snow onion (snøløk) and one of my favourites and one of the world’s most exclusive foods, known from the ethnobotanical literature to be wild collected both in Kashmir, where it has also been domesticated in kitchen gardens and sold in markets, and in the northernmost Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Before you ask, I have no idea where you can get hold of seed or plants – my plants are sterile (no seed) – an exceptionally rare edimental (the garden website is here https://www.ntnu.edu/museum/the-onion-garden)

A video tour of the World Garden

A video tour on my youtube channel showing what’s emerging in The World Garden (Verdenshagen) at the Væres Venner Community Garden in Ranheim, Trondheim, Norway on 7th May 2024. I’ve planted some 160 perennial vegetables here (including mostfrom my book Around the World in 80 plants – signed copies can be ordered from me). The plants are arranged geographically around a 12m diameter circle with the mid-point representing the North Pole and the arctic regions of the world. The garden has been created with support from the KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) network Schubelers Hager (see https://kvann.no/schubeler). These are the plants I mention in this video:
Angelica archangelica “Vossakvann” (Voss Angelica)
Urtica (two stingless stinging nettles; brennløs brennesle)
Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern; strutseving)
Allium angulosum x nutans “Norrland Onion” (Norrlandsløk)
Allium victorialis (victory onion; seiersløk) from naturalised populations in the Lofoten Islands)
Rumex patientia (patience dock; hagesyre)
Artemisia dracunculus sativa “German” (German tarragon; Tysk estragon)
Polygonum bistorta (bistort; ormerot)
Cirsium eriophorum (wooly thistle; ulltistel)
Humulus lupulus “Aureus” (golden hops; gullhumle)
Cirsium oleraceum (cabbage thistle; kåltistel)
Levisticum officinale (lovage; løpstikke)
Allium x cornutum (St. Jansuien; Johannesløk)
Phyteuma spicatum and P. nigra (spiked rampion; vadderot)
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach; stjernemelde)
Rumex acetosa “Champion” (sorrel; engsyre)
Allium stipitatum (Persian shallot; Persisk sjalott)
Allium pskemense x fistulosum “Wietse’s onion” (Wietsesløk)
Rhodiola rosea (roseroot; rosenrot)
Allium fistulosum “Takløk fra Gudbrandsdalen” (roof onion from the Gudbrandsdalen valley; old variety growing on turf roofs)
Arabis alpina (alpine rock cress; fjellskrinneblom)
Hemerocallis (day lilies; dagliljer)
Hosta
Ligularia fischeri “Cheju Charmer” (gomchwi; Koreansk nøkketunge)
Cryptotaenia japonica “Atropurpurea” (purple mitsuba)
Aralia cordata (udo)
Ligularia fischeri “Himalayan accession”
Allium senescens or nutans (or hybrid)
Arctium lappa (greater burdock; storborre)
Taraxacum pseudoroseum (pink flowered dandelion; rosablomstret løvetann)
Hemerocallis middendorfii
Secale cerale x montanum “Mountaineer” (perennial rye; flerårige rug)
Allium douglasii (Douglas’ onion; Douglas-løk)
Allium cernuum “Alan Kapuler” (nodding onion; prærieløk); wild collected by Kapuler on the coast of Oregon
Camassias
Allium cernuum “Major” (nodding onion; prærieløk)
Maianthemum racemosum “Emily Moody” (false spikenard; toppkonvall)
Oenanthe javanica (seri)
Sagittaria latifolia (wapato)
Urtica dioica subsp gracilis (California nettle)
Agastache foeniculum “Aureum” (golden anise hyssop; anisisop)
Hydrophyllum tenuipes (Pacific waterleaf)
Allium x proliferum “Catawissa” (walking onion; etasjeløk)
Rudbeckia laciniata “Hortensia” (cutleaf coneflower; gjerdesolhatt, Kyss-meg-over-gjerde)
Tradescantia occidentalis (prairie spiderwort)
Crambe maritima (sea kale; strandkål)

Lunchtime 2nd May Salad

We’re experiencing a bit of a heat wave here at the moment with high pressure, clear skies and temperatures close to 20C. The growth of my perennial veg is extraodinary for the time of year. I made this salad for lunch with a little of everything I found in a 5-10 minute garden forage with a few things from the cellar and living room!
The 37 plants in the salad are listed below the pictures!

SALAD PLANT LIST
Allium paradoxum var paradoxum (few flowered leek); flower stems
Primula denticulata
Claytonia virginiana (spring beauty)
Carum carvi (caraway; karve)
Lepidium sativum “Kandahar” (cress; karse)
Coriandrum sativum (coriander; koriander)
Aegopodium podograria (ground elder; skvallerkål)
Oxalis triangularis; flowers
Primula vulgaris (primrose; kusymre); flowers
Primula elatior (oxlip; hagenøkleblom)
Allium hymenorhizum
Allium cernuum (nodding onion; prærieløk)
Allium nutans
Allium senescens
Allium victorialis (victory onion; seiersløk)
Allium ursinum (ramsons; ramsløk)
Crambe maritima (sea kale; strandkål)
Allium scorodoprsum (sand leek; bendelløk)
Daucus carota (carrot; gulrot)
Allium sativum (garlic; hvitløk)
Anethum graveolens (dill)
Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower; storklokke)
Taraxacum sp. (dandelion; løvetann)
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach; stjernemelde)
Cichorium intybus “Witloof” (chicory; sikori)
Scorzonera hispanica (scorzonera; scorsonnerot)
Allium schoenoprasum (chives; gressløk)
Rumex acetosa (sorrel; engsyre)
Allium carinatum “Pulchellum”
Allium angulosum
Cichorium intybus “Festive F1”
Hosta fortunei “Albopicta Aurea”
Taraxacum tortilobum (moss-leaved dandelion; mosebladet løvetann)
Allium zebdanense
Allium validum (Pacific onion; stillehavsløk)
Ligularia fischeri (gomchwi; Fischersnøkketunge)
Oxalis acetosella “Rosea” ; blomst

MAC 69 ONION CHEESE

Thanks everyone for all the birthday greetings! I spent my 69th by visiting the Onion Garden Chicago that I look after at the Ringve Botanical Garden, worked for an hour and harvested leaves from 69 different Alliums as one does, surprised my daughter by meeting her off the bus from Oslo and then had a lovely evening with Mac 69 Onion Cheese with Hablitzia tamnoides washed down with a few glasses, my first birthday as a Norwegian citizen 🙂

Wietse’s onion (Allium pskemense x fistulosum) is already huge!
Beautiful Allium moly shoots!

One of the Allium victorialis group accessions

The Full Gap

I used to call it the Hungry Gap (Vårknipen), but transitioning to a large proportion of perennials this is the time I now call the Full Gap! The vegetables were quickly stir-fried in olive oil and added to a 100% whole grain rye, emmer and spelt quiche (eggepai).
These were the veggies I harvested for last night’s dinner (names below). Taraxacum sp.  dandelion / løvetann
Hablitzia tamnoides  Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde
Cichorium intybus chicory / sikkori (2 cellar forced Witloof type cultivars, one purple leaved, the other green)
Allium cernuum nodding onion / prærieløk
Allium fistulosum  Welsh onion / pipeløk
Allium x proliferum  walking onion / luftløk
Allium paradoxum One flowered leek
Dystaenia takesimana  Seombadi;  giant Korean celery / Ulleung kjempeselleri
Allium sativum  garlic / hvitløk (shoot from a stand grown as a perennial)
Aegopodium podograria  ground elder / skvallerkål
Hemerocallis middendorfii
Campanula latifolia 
giant bellflower / storklokke
Allium ochotense oriental victory onion / orientalsk seiersløk
Myrrhis odorata  sweet cicely / Spansk kjørvel
Allium hymenorrhizum



Edibles at RHS Wisley

Since my last visit to RHS Wisley 5 years ago there have been large changes, notably the RHS Hilltop building and adjacent World Food Garden. Last Thursday I was fortunate to be invited to visit by head of the RHS Edibles team, Sheila Das, who had attended my talk on home territory in the autumn (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=31687). I was bowled over by the scale of what has already been achieved and the ambitious plans for the future moving away from the “conventional” towards organics, food forests, food diversity, no dig etc. and firmly anchored in improving  biodiversity – pollinators, habitat, the important role of fungi etc (less cutting, more untidy and irregular), sustainability and climate friendly gardening.
After showing me the plans, Sheila took me on to rooftop of Hilltop to get a bird’s eye view of the World Food Garden before walking around. The rigid rectangular growing beds of old are gone, replaced by curved beds in all shapes and sizes and gone also are the straight lines, replaced by irregular intercropping and demonstration of the incredible diversity of food crops available to the UK grower. Edible climbers were being trained up the outside of the perimeter wooden fence. You can already see a number of perennials in the 1 acre World Food Garden (my own Word Garden at 12m diameter now seems tiny in comparison!).  Below can be seen various pictures that I took on a tour of what has become probably the most popular part of RHS Wisley – amazing to witness this transition of the RHS as largely an organisation for ornamental gardeners to an organisation where more than 50% of members today note growing food as their main interest. Of course, edimentals can help bridge the gap between the two gardening camps! See the pictures and captions below for more!

 

Early spring moths and sallow

The end of March this year was mild with little frost.  I was surprised to find the first flowering sallow / selje (Salix caprea) on 19th March and by the end of the month some larger trees were in full flower providing much needed food for a myriad of insects include wild bees, bumble bees and most of the 13 moth species shown below, all of which were photographed in my garden at the end of March, attracted by a moth trap. In turn, birds are attracted to the insect feast and some also feed on the nectar directly.



Sleepless night counting geese flocks

Not much sleep last night as the year’s biggest migration of pinkfooted geese this year (kortnebbgås) went on from 2230 to 0400! Counting flocks of geese doesn’t put you to sleep, it has the opposite effect and I’m not complaining…altogether 30 flocks passed over in this time (will have missed a few as I dosed off occasionally) with somewhere between 3000 and 6000 birds passing eastwards along the fjord before heading north to their pit stop on agricultural land just north of here!
The bright light isn’t my moth trap, it’s the one owned by the workers electrifying the railway :)

Runner Bean Falafels

After many years of trying, I managed to get a decent crop of dried runner beans / løpebønner* (Phaseolus coccineus). My own garden is a bit too cold due to the shady conditions on a rather windy spot. Last year I grew a selection of 15-20 early varieties sourced from the German gene bank IPK Gatersleben and commercial suppliers which I grew successfully in the sunnier community garden (Væres Venner).
They were made into delicious falafels,  accompanied by living room grown Kandahar cress (karse) and wild buckwheat / vill bokhvete and turned into gourmet food with a couple of dandelion flowers from the windowsill! 
*In Norwegian, these beans are known usually as blomsterbønner (flower beans) and most often used as an ornamental. I prefer to call them løpebønner to better reflect that these are much more than an ornamental!

Root hairs and burdock

I used some burdock / borre root (Arctium lappa) in an oriental stir-fry the other day. They’ve been stored in autumn leaves in the cold cellar since autumn and now with the temperature increasing, the roots had developed many white root hairs. Their function is to dramatically increase the root surface area and hence interface with the soil, and hence enhancing the absorption of water and minerals.



Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden