March soba greens

Today it reached an unusually warm 16C here which encouraged the first bumble bees and honey bees out! The picture shows the greens (and whites) used in tonight’s soba (buckwheat noodle) stir-fry:
Hogweed (Heracleum spp.) shoots (far left, from the cellar); top row: Dystaenia takesimana (outside), chicons (chicory shoots; cellar), horseradish shoots (cellar), garlic and Allium scorodoprasum shoots (outside), Allium cernuum shoots (outside); Below from L to R: Dandelion (Taraxacum) shoots from the cellar, ground elder (Aegopodium podograria) shoots (outside), lesser celandine (Ficaria verna), wild buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) seed sprouts (living room), nettle shoots (Urtica dioica), hedge mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and (bottom right) Hablitzia tamnoides shoots. 

Record warmth and record early shoots

With record temperatures recorded in this area at the moment after a mild winter when all the cold spells coincided with good snow cover means that the soil was hardly frozen all winter and garlic shoots had appeared a few days ago at least two weeks earlier than I’ve recorded before and I also found the first ground elder (skvallerkål) shoots – welcome back my friend and, be warned, I will be eating you until the autumn!
It’s the marbled purple stripe garlic varieties that I grow that appear first: Aleksandra, Estonian Red, German Hardneck and Valdres!

The harbinger of the season of plenty: ground elder (skvallerkål), I LOVE YOU!
I noticed Aleksandra garlic shoots on 13th March!
This is a group of two year old garlic which were started from bulbils
Garlic being grown on an two year cycle can potentially give bigger total yield than if harvested every year. In the second year as shown here each clove has germinated and will produce a clump of garlics by autumn!




Winter salad record: 5 years after

5 years ago this week, I made a salad with 140 ingredients all harvested locally without using any additional energy than is available in my house and cellar (no greenhouse; no freezer; no fermenting; no plastics involved). This was well planned as I had been asked to provide a salad and other ingredients for a 10-15 course 4 hour dinner at the now Michelin star Credo restaurant in Trondheim in collaboration with the Kosmorama film festival (the main theme was films about food and Michael Pollan’s film in Defense of Food was shown).
The 11 categories of ingredients included in this salad, how it was planned so that everything was available in early March, and the recipe can be read about on my blog here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=10214

How do they do it?

It’s always a surprise when I’m woken to the song of a wren (gjerdesmett) in the garden at this time of year. This is not only the second smallest bird in Norway, but along with the smallest bird goldcrest (fuglekonge) they rely almost only on natural food and don’t come to bird feeders. It’s been a relatively snow rich winter with stable conditions over long periods, but somehow this bird has made it through the winter. There have been reports of wrens regularly through the winter in this area, so it’s likely that it has overwintered (some of the local population migrate to milder areas in western Europe). I haven’t heard them in the daytime yet this year, so it’s probably spending the night in one of the bird boxes in the garden and finding food elsewhere!

Myoga shoots and propagation

I wrote about harvesting and eating myoga (Japanese ginger / Zingiber mioga) here in Malvik for the first time in 2020 here:
It was grown in a cold room in the house all year as previous experience had shown that outside plants managed to survive our winter but that the plants started sprouting very late (June) and hardly grew during the summer. I suspect that although they are relatively hardy they need much warmer summer temperatures than we can offer in this part of Norway.
I decided to repot my plant today and also divide so that I can offer to a few members of Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) to try mainly in the warmer parts of Norway.
While transplanting I accidentally knocked off a couple of shoots, so I had a little taste at lunch with an olive oil / soy sauce dressing. Crunchy and mild tasting!

The first 2022 outside salad

Sorry for the silence here on the Edimentals blog. I’ve been busy preparing to produce signs and plant labels for the Allium garden and the World Garden as well as working on various KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) projects. However, I had to share the joy of making the first salad where all (25) plants were collected outside in the garden (we’ve been making salads from cellar ingredients all winter). The snow is now gone from most of the garden and the temperature rose to above 5C today which has stimulated a lot of early shooting edibles. No complete plant list, but the salad included various Alliums, Rumex, Dystaenia, Taraxacum, Arabis, Hablitzia etc.
The first outside edible flower of 2022 was a Primula veris subsp. macrocalyx.



The Birds

Over the last couple of days there’ve been large numbers of birds in the garden making me think of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, although there have been fortunately no casualties as far as I know. I try to limit the amount of bird food I put out (as its production isn’t good for birds) and it’s good to see that most species are still eating natural food. 
This winter there’ve been reports from all over the county of unusual numbers of overwintering bramblings (bjørkefink) with flocks up to 300 birds recorded. I’ve had smaller flocks of 20-30 for some time, but yesterday they were everywhere in the garden and at least 140 birds were present, a new winter record for Malvik kommune! The films below show them both at the bird feeder, feeding on rowan berries (eating the seed and discarding the flesh) and also on the ground perhaps feeding on birch seed? 
Apart from that there was a sizeable flock of some 60 waxwings (sidensvans) on guelder rose / krossved (Viburnum opulus) and hawthorn (hagtorn) , 11 bullfinches (dompap), 50 house sparrows (gråspurv), 6 goldfinches (stillits) still mostly on burdock seed, 16 siskins (on birch seed), 6 greenfinches (grønnfink), 2 hawfinches (kjernebiter) seen on plum stones and rowan berries, a single robin (rødstrupe), a couple of fieldfares (gråtrost) on apples and hawthorn, a great spotted woodpecker (flaggspett) and great and blue tits both establishing territories now. In addition, a flock of 500-600 jackdaws (kaie) fly over to the roost every evening.

Bramblings with a hawfinch:

Bramblings with a hawfinch feeding on rowan seed (at the end, both birds are seen to discard the flesh). A greenfinch was also feeding on rowan.

Bramblings on the ground (feeding on birch seed?)

Large flock of bramblings at the bird feeder:

Harvesting midwinter nodding onions

Allium cernuum (nodding onion / prærieløk) is hardy more or less anywhere people live and stays green all winter here. It’s been mild with snow coming and going for several weeks and there’s no frost in the soil. I dug up a clump yesterday to use in the kitchen and replanted a few. Some were used in a salad and others will be used in any dishes with onion in the next couple of weeks (Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean pasta with green sauce….anything really).

The sun is back

I noticed this morning sun shadows on the wall behind my back in the living room! YES, the sun is back. A whole week of cloudy weather after the sun was due to rise again above the southern horizon, so it wasn¨’t until today we could finally be sure that the sun was back, but there was only a small break in the clouds and it was soon gone again. However, spring is definitely in the air and two great tits (kjøttmeis) have been singing in the garden the last two days and a blue tit (blåmeis) joined them a couple of times! Good times!

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