Pine grosbeaks in the garden

Great excitement this morning! I noticed a flock of birds from my desk that landed in a rowan tree. My first impression was fieldfares (gråtrost) and waxwings (sidensvans) but neither seemed quite right! Through binoculars I saw immediately they were pine grosbeaks (konglebiter) which are large finches! Rowan berries are their preferred winter food A new species for my garden, adding weight to my theory that if you wait long enough they will come to you! This was the species I had most wanted to see and had been looking out for them as there is a big invasion on in my area! I managed to get a very short video from which the two still pictures are taken before the whole flock (27) flew off westwards, the biggest number ever recorded in Malvik Kommune :)

A “slightly” better picture of these beauties from Wikicommons (Ron Knight from Seaford, East Sussex, United Kingdom):

Seminar on Community Seed Banks in Oslo

On 31st October, I took part in a seminar at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo on Community Seed Banks with interesting talks and discussions with pioneers of the seed saver movement in Europe from Pro Specie Rara (Switzerland), Heritage Seed Library (UK) and Aegilops (Greece). Videos of all the talks can be seen by following the link: https://www.fni.no/news/community-seed-banks-as-springboards-for-enhancing-food-and-crop-diversity-article2178-330.html
In my short 10 minute introduction to Norwegian Seed Savers, I talk about one of the pioneers and the person that inspired me into seed saving, Lawrence Hills of the Henry Doubleday Research Association. The first newsletter I received from HDRA in 1980 was about the World’s Vanishing Vegetables…almost exactly 40 years on it’s a very interesting read:  https://www.fni.no/getfile.php/1311057-1573120703/Dokumenter/Kvann%20-%20powerpoint%20presentation.pdf
Thanks to Regine Anderson of FNI for arranging this event!

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Winter chantarelles / Traktkantareller

Earlier in October, we found a place with a large amount of chantarelles (kantarell); see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=23655). We noticed that there were also a lot of winter chantarelles (traktkantarell; Cantherellus tubaeformis) growing in the same place, but we decided to wait a couple of weeks as many were still small and return before the first hard frosts (forecasted in the next few days).  Here is the haul:

The last blackberries

It’s been a good year for blackberries. I picked the last ones on Saturday. There are many unripe as usual, but it’s too late now for them to ripen. This is from a bush we were given by Scottish friends who lived in Trondheim in the 80s. They had brought the plant with them from Scotland. It grows on the south facing wall of my house. It isn’t hardy and has to be layed on the ground and covered with leaves / spruce branches….not a pleasant job as it’s a thorny variety!

Edibles & ornamental plants

Bulk Email Sender