8 years later…

The first time I gave my talk “Around the world in 80 plants” was 8 (eight) years ago on 6th November 2006 for the local group of the Norwegian Botanical Society (NBF-TLA) under the Norwegian title “Verden rundt med 80 arter – som smaker”.  After the meeting, the leader of the group, Arne Odland told me I should write a book. The thought had occurred to me, but this was the spark I needed….but that it would take 8 years is surprising, but there was still a lot of testing of plants, trying of many recipes, a full time job, a large garden to look after and some rewriting……….
I was invited back to the Botanical Society to give a quick 10 minute introduction to the book. Then this afternoon I had a panicky call whether I could make a longer talk as the main lecturer had to cancel…..NBF_RTW_2014
I used the same picture from my 2006 lecture and just changed the date, here it is :)

Review in the Ian Young Bulb Log

The first review apart from the Permaculture Magazine one came from a completely unexpected place, the Scottish Rock Garden Club’s Ian Young’s weekly Bulb Log and a really good review it is too!!
http://www.srgc.org.uk/…/2014Nov261417007041BULB_LOG_4814.p…(see pages 11 to 15)

I had thought and hoped that the book might also appeal to ornamental gardeners and maybe we were right……

Ian’s bulb log is a labour of love and goes right back to 2003, you can see all of them here (I’ve followed this over the years and picked up a lot of valuable information!

The book is now shipping…and at a special price from Permanent Publications!

around-the-world-front-coverAround The World in 80 Plants : An Edible Perennial Vegetable Adventure For Temperate Climates, by Stephen Barstow

What has underground gardening in Tokyo, the origin of garlic and an English bishop got in common? They are all stories from the original, groundbreaking book, Around The World In 80 Plants. Perennial gardening will never be the same again, nor will be your kitchen repertoire!

Around The World In 80 Plants takes us on an inspiring edible adventure across the continents, introducing us to the author’s top 80 perennial vegetables, with inspiration along the way from local foraging traditions and small scale domestication. Each plant has its own ethnobotanical story to tell; introducing Sherpa vegetables of the Himalayas; forest gardened and foraged vegetables of the Sámi people of Arctic Scandinavia; a super-vegetable of the Maori of New Zealand; an onion with a 1,000 year history linking the author’s home and Iceland ; a plant which earned the name ‘supermarket of the swamps’; the traditional veggie roof gardens of Norway; clifftop perennial vegetables of Dorset’s Jurassic coast; the Hampshire perennial vegetable triangle; Scandinavias best kept secret, a long-lived spinach that climbs; Prince Charles’ Forest Garden, and inspiring multi-species dishes of the Mediterranean countries.

A thorough description is given of each vegetable, its propagation, cultivation and uses, and also how to source seed and plants. As many of the author’s selections are what he calls ‘edimentals’ – edible and ornamental –Around the World in 80 Plants will be of interest to traditional ornamental gardeners as well as anyone interested in permaculture, forest gardening, foraging, slow-food, gourmet cooking, traditional preservation techniques and ethnobotany.

Stephen has devoted over 30 years trialling the world’s perennial vegetables. He grows more than 2,000 edible plants in his garden close to the Arctic Circle in Norway, and in 2003 earned the title ‘Extreme Salad Man’ after creating a salad using 537 varieties, inspired by multi-species Mediterranean dishes! Sprinkled with recipes inspired by local traditional gastronomy, this is a fascinating book, an entertaining adventure and a real milestone in climate-friendly vegetable growing from a pioneering expert on the subject.

 Foreword by Alys Fowler.

Continue reading The book is now shipping…and at a special price from Permanent Publications!

Holma Forest Garden / Holma skogsträdgård June 2014

P1040555In mid-June I visited Esbjörn Wandt for a few days. He is one of the driving forces behind one of the first (the first?) and best forest gardens in Sweden – Holma skogsträdgård (about 10 years old I believe)…a fantastic few days, thanks to all!  Esbjörn has an impressive team of helpers at Holma and at other splinter gardens which are cropping up here and there in this area. First, I’ve collected an album of pictures from the forest garden, from my evening talk nearby and from preparing a new part of the forest garden which will exclusively contain plants from my book (it will be known as Barstows lund or Barstow’s copse…. :) )

Link to the pictures of Holma!

A group of us also visited Lund Botanical Garden nearby and had fun finding unusual edible plants in the collections :) Here is an album from that day:

Link to the Lund Botanical Gardens album

Alexandra Berkutenko and the Giant Edimentals of the Russian Far East

My friend Søren Holt asked the following on a Facebook thread “Did you ever think of collecting giant vegetables from kamchatska tall herb meadows?”

Yes is the answer…and it would be great to actually visit… I remember reading of the Giant herbs of the Russian Far East in Russian botanist Alexandra Berkutenko’s fantastic seed list some 15 years ago. Sadly, she no longer puts out this seed list, but you can get an impression of what was on offer as one of the lists from 2001 is still on-line:


You can see several giant herbs mentioned here – Angelica ursina (have so far not succeeded with this one – seed has either not germinated or I’ve lost the plants); Heracleum dulce, Polygonum sachalinense (Giant Knotweed) and even Aralia cordata (syn. Aralia continentalis) (Udo) is on offer!! All of these are in the book too….
This list was also my original source of Aster scaber!

So yes collecting giant vegetables in Kamchatska has been in my thoughts.
I helped Berkutenko advertise her list in the early days and I remember putting an advert in the North American Herb Companion for her and she sent seed in return (it was difficult for her to pay for adverts from within Russia). She also attended a conference in Tromsø but I didn’t meet her – she mentions seeing giant Heracleum persicum on the streets of Tromsø.
She was also an ethnobotanist and co-authored a book “Medicinal and Edible Plants of Alaska and the Russian Far East” (sadly, never translated from Russian). See below the front page and species list. I corresponded with her when writing the book! I did Russian at school, so can read but not understand much of the text…Søren has actually helped with translating some parts

A little salad recipe :)

Somebody was asking if I still had the ingredients list for my record salad from 2003 with 537 varieties – it used to be on the net but has been taken down. Haven’t found it yet, but in the process of searching I found the RECIPE for the first of my MegaSalads from 2001…just in case you want to have a go


On 19th August 2001, Stephen Barstow decided to attempt to break the world record for the greatest number of plant varieties in a salad in his garden in Malvik, Norway at 63.4deg N. However, from searches beforehand on the Internet, it didn’t seem that anyone had been daft enough to try this before. The salad was composed and put together in connection with the Norwegian National Open Organic Garden Day. The final salad had a grand total of 363 distinct plant varieties and 382 distinct plant parts (i.e., including flowers and leaves from the same variety). All bar two of the varieties were collected in the garden.

The recipe:

Take some leaves of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), leaves of Alpine Calamint (Acinos alpinus); leaves of Basil Thyme (Acinos arvensis), leaves of Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria), chopped wood mushroom (Agaricus silvicola), some leaves and flowers of Agastache “Licquorice”, some leaves and flowers of Anise Hyssop (Agastache anisata), some leaves and flowers of White Anise Hyssop (Agastache anisata alba), add some leaves of Agastache aurantiaca, some leaves and flowers of Mexican Giant Hyssop (Agastache mexicana), leaves of Agastache pringlei, some leaves of Korean Mint (Agastache rugosa), some leaves of Agastache scrophulariaefolia, leaves of Agastache speciosa, a few leaves of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), some Continue reading A little salad recipe :)

Article in Adresseavisen (Trondheim’s newspaper); 28th June 2014

An article in Trondheim’s newspaper in June 2014 about edible Trondheim including one of my diversity salads…
Artikkel fra Ukeadressa i juni om spiselig Trøndelag!!

Download (PDF, 9.54MB)

….and if you hover your mouse above the picture of all the ingredients in the linked picture you will see that all the plant names come up (common names in Norwegian, plus latin names) Enjoy!

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