The long delayed (by COVID) opening of the Onion Garden Chicago took place at the Ringve Botanical Gardens in Trondheim on Friday. Here we grow over 400 different Alliums including over 100 botanical species and some 60 old (with a history from 60-980 years; yes the oldest history goes back to 1040!) Norwegian onions. To officially open the garden, Elise Moltzau Wanderås from the Norwegian Agricultural Authority (LDir) was given Felco garden shears to clip Allium pskemense flowering stems and our new sign was simultaneously revealed (received the day before)!
Thanks to all that donated onions to the collection in my project (2008-2016) funded by the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre and LDir, to Vibekke Vange and the staff at Ringve who gave me the chance and support to create this garden and make a dream come true, to volunteer Kim Wallace, daughter Hazel and Meg Anderson for help maintaining the garden! Thanks also to KVANN (kvann.no) for support for purchasing seed and bulbs for the garden and support for sending plant material from the garden to members each autumn!
Notice that we used an Alliophone (Allium microphone) under the event (patented by Søren Holt of Danish Seed Savers some years ago!):
I was showing a journalist around the winter edible garden and cellar this morning and dug up some nodding (Chicago) onions (Allium cernuum) and picked a few Hablitzia shoots, so why not turn it into lunch! I sliced an oca (Oxalis tuberosa) in with the vegetables. Scambled Habby Chicago eggs is simple gourmet midwinter food from garden to table in no time!
Various Allium species are the hardiest of edible plants either staying green all winter (e.g., Allium cernuum and Allium carinatum) or sprouting very early and able to withstand some frost. With a minimum forecast of -6C tomorrow after a very mild March, it will be interesting to see whether any of these early shooters are damaged. Here are a selection of pictures of Alliums and other early spring shoots in this weeks snow.
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).
Since New Year, only one day had been slightly above zero with temperatures regularly below -15C, but then a big shift in the weather happened a few days ago and it’s now 25C warmer than it was a week ago! It’s interesting to see how hardy some Alliums are, even when not insulated by snow and here are 3 of the most hardy: Allium carinatum (keeled garlic / rosenløk), Allium flavum (small yellow onion / doggløk) and Allium cernuum (nodding onion /prærieløk) can all be harvested even though the soil is frozen solid. Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) shoots are also developing nicely and I’ll have a few for lunch today along with the onions.
I’ve been self-sufficient in fresh vegetables year round and have blogged and lectured about how I can do this even in winter without a greenhouse, without a freezer and without using additional energy apart from my own manual labour :) The most important factor allowing me to do this is the cold cellar under the house where I can store vegetables cold and frost free. None of the common winter leafy green vegetables further south in Europe – kales (grønnkål), chards (mangold) and leek (purre) – can be reliably overwintered outside here, although winters are getting milder. For example, swiss chard is killed by the first hard frosts which due to our northern location last all day (little direct solar warming at this time of year). Usually I’m taken by surprise by hard frosts in early November and there’s a panic digging up vegetables and I often have to use an iron bar to get through the ice layer. Not so this year. Thanks to corona and a very mild first part of November, I’ve had more time for the harvest. Last week I lifted the swedes and turnips and yesterday the parsnips, jerusalem artichokes and carrots. Today, I moved all the swiss chards, celery and chicories (sikkori) to large buckets, planted in soil, ready to move quickly inside later in the week if necessary as colder weather is forecast. In the past I’ve stored these winter vegetables in hand made wooden crates filled with soil. However, after 20 or so winters, they’re no longer usable and I hadn’t got round to making new ones, so I will store in these large plastic buckets, which had been purchased to plant the Allium collection, now with a permanent home at the Ringve botanical garden. I’ve also been digging up perennial vegetables for winter forcing. This includes various onions – Allium senescens, Allium flavescens, Allium angulosum and Allium cernuum. In addition, I’ve dug a udo (Aralia cordata) root and also a few ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and Hosta “Frances Williams” (sieboldiana). Finally, I’ve been digging large amounts of my most important winter vegetable, dandelion! (see my 2018 harvest here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=20124) 19th November: the next morning it snowed (see the video at the bottom)!
Harvested swiss chards including the Lucullus type and perpetual spinach (all Beta vulgaris var cicla):
AROUND THE WORLD IN THE EDIBLE GARDEN; Part 1 – The Cherokee lands of Eastern North America The first in a series of dinners from Malvik’s Edible Garden where we “forage” from different parts of the world!
Cherokee Pizza is of course better known as Cherokizza…go on, look it up :). This is the classic Native American Italian dish and it was made in Norway today! All you need is a good selection of Cherokee wild vegetables: Appalachian greens / kyss-meg-over-gjerde (Rudbeckia laciniata); see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22018 Nodding onion / prærieløk (Allium cernuum) Stinging nettle / brennesle (Urtica dioica) Virginia waterleaf / Indian salad (Hydrophyllum virginianum) Dandelion / løvetann (Taraxacum spp.) (a giant individual, as you will see from the pictures, growing on seaweed on the sea kale bed) Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
I used a thick 100% whole grain rye sourdough base for the pizza, so a bit of Denmark in there too!