Tonight’s garden foraged perennial veggies for an oriental stir-fry!
Lots of Hablitzia (stjernemelde), ground elder (skvallerkål), Svenskelauk (a form of Allium fistulosum), sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel), dandelion (løvetann), day lily shoots (daglilje), blanched horseradish shoots (pepperrot) and a variety of Allium victorialis (victory onion, seiersløk) which is the earliest form I grow along with one from the Kola peninsular in northern Russia; other varieties have hardly grown yet!
I’m just passing the mountain village Otta in Gudbrandsdalen on the train . In 2009, I visited several old farms in this area to witness first-hand the old onion turf roofs still to be found nearby and collect some samples (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=14436). Norway’s old edible roof gardens are also described in my book Around the World I 80 plants! I recently heard that a botanist, Bjørn Harald Larsen, did a thorough field study of the area last year (2016) and made a number of new finds. His report can be downloaded below (with many new pictures!). Bjørn Harald has tried to partition his finds of old Allium fistulosum (pipeløk / Welsh onion) in this area as follows: There are now 10 intact roof locations documented of 31 «original known onion roofs»; 12 intact of 16 finds where plants had been moved / planted from older roofs; 2 occurrences where plants have naturalised on dry slopes; a few that have been planted in gardens; and finally two instances where plants seem to originate from other cultivated forms (i.e., plants have a different growth form – I had also noted this when growing out some of these onions in Malvik).
On 3rd July 2009, local historian Geir Neverdal invited me on a tour to witness first hand the old traditional onion roofs of Gudbrandsdalen near the town of Otta. I had first heard of Geir through the following web site about these very special old turf roofs on which Allium fistulosum / welsh onion / pipeløk had been planted as a protection against fire (the leaves are succulent even in very dry conditions and this Siberian species is extremely hardy and drought tolerant): http://www.otta2000.com/Diverse/Pipeloek/pipeloek.htm. The onions were also traditionally harvested in spring and used in scrambled egg and other dishes.
He had arranged visits to 5 different farms near Otta and Vågå. Two local botanists had also been invited along: Hans Petter Schwencke and Bjørn Engehagen.
One Norwegian botanist thinks that as these roof onions have developed over such a long time in this very special environment that they should be lifted to species level. I suggest Allium gudbrandsdaliensis ;)
Below are a series of pictures from these farms: Søre Breden where owners Knut Romsås Breden og Eldri Seim met us; Hole; Nedre Gjetsiden; Nerøygarden (where Ingrid Dokken and her husband met us)and, finally, Sve Gård in Vågå kommune where farmer Harald Bjørndal showed us around. At the bottom is a document in Norwegian which I wrote after the visit. The story of these onions is also told in my book Around the World in 80 plants!
A little secret I’ve had since last autumn (apart from a select few) when I was told that I would get my very own Allium bed at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim :)
Yesterday, 18th August 2017, I finally got the time to start the planting. I will be planting both the collection of old Norwegian perennial onions that I have collected from all over the country over the last 10 years and a selection of species Alliums to show off their incredible diversity!
The first phase was mainly the planting of my old Norwegian onion collection, Allium schoenoprasum (chives / gressløk), Allium fistulosum (Welsh onion / pipeløk including old Norwegian roof onions from Gudbrandsdalen) and Allium x proliferum (walking onions, tree onions, Egyptian onions / luftløk, etasjeløk). I also planted about 22 accessions of Allium cernuum (nodding onion, Chicago onion / prærieløk) plus a few others like Allium carinatum pulchellum and Norrlands onion (Norrlandsløk).
It was a long day starting at home at 8 am with packing, sorting and documentation, returning home after 10 pm – it was worth it for the sunset from the garden over Trondheimsfjord!! Looking forward to phase 2 which will probably be in September!
Thanks to the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre and particularly Morten Rasmussen for funding the bed preparation and Vibekke Vange and the staff at Ringve for making me feel so welcome!
Preparing Allium cernuum accessions for Ringve at home:
Sunset and the new Allium bed with the accompaniment of screaming (approving) swifts! Life is good!!
100% coarse organic rye and emmer pie crust (flour and butter) kneeded into the pie dish (not rolled out), then a layer of blue cheese, then mixed vegetables and the rest of yesterday’s chantarelles, hedgehog fungi and Russula….and then filled with egg/milk/oregano mix and finished off with Mallow flowers which retain some of their colour at the end!
Greens: Allium fistulosum (spring onions), swiss chard, ground elder, nettle
My trip to Japan in early spring 2016 was perfectly timed to witness one of the wonders of the Japanese spring, the mass flowering of katakuri (Erythronium japonicum; Japanese: 片栗), a pink-flowered species trout lily or dog’s tooth violet. Thanks to Kevin Cameron for inviting us along on a hike with a local walking club out of Nagoya! The bulbs were in the past used as a source of starch, the leaves and flowers also being eaten (but shouldn’t be wild harvested nowadays as some sources consider it as endangered). I’ve never seen so many people out flower watching, so many cameras trained at the flowers…a bit like twitchers watching some rare bird….we could call them flitters perhaps!
We took the train from Nagoya to Kanigawa station in Kani city on the edge of Nagoya’s urban sprawl, then walked to Yunohana hot springs spa and market on the river, popped in to one of the walking group’s friend’s house for tea, snack and a garden wander before walking to the katakuri area in a nature reserve area. Finally, we followed a trail up on to the hill where there was a distant view of Japan’s second highest volcano Mt. Ontake. We followed Kevin and daughter back to the spa for a hot bath, while the rest of the group carried on the trail to take the train back from a different station.
I’ve had a katakuri in my garden for several years but it doesn’t get much larger and seems to be self-sterile (pictures of my plants can be seen in the gallery on this page: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=9442
First a gallery of pictures of the katakuri woods followed by 4 videos! This is followed by two more galleries of pictures from this wonderful day! Enjoy…
..and now 4 videos of the katakuri area:
Next, an album of pictures taken on the way from the station to the market and spa and lunch at a Japanese house.
…and finally a gallery of pictures of other plants including a number of edibles on the walk up to the viewpoint with the walking group!