Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) has self-sowed numerous times in my garden but only up to now on cultivated beds with naked soil. Now for the first time I noticed one had popped up in dry soil under my two oldest Norway spruce trees (Picea abies; gran) which are probably in their 80s. There are a number of Hablitzia plants in a bed about 8m above this site (I believe that the shiny seeds of Hablitzia can disperse by falling on icy snow and are blown by the wind). This is an area which had been invaded by hedge mustard / løkurt (Alliaria petiolata). I’ve been systematically removing this plant from this area and other parts of the garden where it was rapidly taking over. Incidentally, another climber, Bryonia alba, appeared in the same location in 2010, but died after a few years (last picture). It wil be interesting to see if this plant manages to establish here. No, I don’t think Hablitzia has the potential to be invasive!
Last year’s birthday dinner was the Around the World in 80 Mac-Cheese, this year’s green mac-cheese contained 68 Hablitzia shoots, 68 ramsons (ramsløk) leaves, 68 ground elder (skvallerkål) leaves and 68 stinging nettle (brennesle) shoots, with opium poppy seeds and nutty alpine bistort (harerug) bulbils on top! The video shows me collecting the Hablitzia shoots!
I’ve been growing Hablitzia tamnoides, affectionately known as Habbies, for over 20 years and this is the first registered mortality. On a shallow bed under a birch tree, plants lift during winter as if to walk off to take over the world (OK, probably just frost heave as also happens with parsnip roots), and one of them is now no more, a dead Norwegian habby :(
Here’s a few more that are going the same way of I don’t rescue them:
…and below is a nice little edible community where both self-sowed Siberian hogweed (Heracleum sibiricum) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) are growing happily in company with Hablitzia tamnoides!
Yesterday, I was preparing my talk for the Finnish Permaculture Association (see https://youtube.com/live/CYBqioWTr6U) and was reminded that I had mentioned in my book that Hablitzia could be used in place of spinach in Finnish spinach pancakes (pinaattiohukaiset). With my Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach; köynnöspinaatit) shoots having grown well recently, I decided to make these Finnish-style habby pancakes for lunch to get in the mood for the talk. I must admit, I didn’t look up a recipe and just improvised (recipes make cooking complicated in my mind!) using ingredients I felt should be in there. Apart from plentiful Hablitzia shoots I mixed in whole grain oat flour, eggs, garlic, chili and pepper and fried them in butter. It was served with a salad which also included Hablitzia! First, the quotation from Around the World in 80 plants (suggested by Jonathan Bates in the US in his article on Hablitzia):
Wild Enoki, Oca, Hablitzia, wild buckwheat sprouts, Allium nutans with dandelion, garlic chilis mixed with scrambled eggs for a delicious home grown and foraged lunch! Enoki is one of the hardiest fungi appearing often midwinter in mild winters. Also known as velvet shank (vintersopp in Norwegian, meaning winter fungus; Flammulina velutipes). Many had been reporting finding this species recently, and I too found some when I visited the botanical garden the other day! It’s difficult to believe that this is the same fungi as Enokitake or Enoki, sometimes offered in supermarkets and one of the most popular cultivated fungi in the Far East. The cultivated fungi are long and white as they are grown in the dark in an enriched CO2 environment which gives longer stalks.
I’m in Habby Blitz (bliss) once again and Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / Stjernemelde / Nordens spinat) is the most important vegetable once again. With some 30 plants (and increasing) there¨’s more than enough to harvest. Here’s a few pictures from an area on very shallow soil (10-20cm) under the shade of a large birch tree where it thrives. And it’s now 20 years since I planted my first!
The greens that went into last night’s wholegrain spelt quiche are listed below the picture! CELLAR: Dystaenia takesimana shoots; Forced hogweed (bjørnekjeks) shoots (Heracleum spp.); Forced Taraxacum (dandelion / løvetann); nederst til høyre: Witloof chicory (sikkori); øverst til høyre: swiss chard (mangold) GARDEN: Various hybrid onions (Allium senescens x nutans) and Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)
A wonderful birthday dinner again this week! As is the tradition since I left home, my birthday dinner has been Macaroni Cheese with rhubarb crumble for dessert. Mac Cheese was the first veggie dish I ate back in the 60s – Mum took us to Edwin Jones in Southampton (the superstore of the time) where they served it in the restaurant, sadly no more as Debenhams that took over closed for good last year during the first COVID lockdown… We loved it and it became a tradition for Mum to make this every Tuesday! Nowadays, we use whole grain spelt macaroni with masses of greens…Hablitzia or Caucasian spinach ( stjernemelde) and others (see this year’s list below). Dedicating this once again to my dear Mum…it’s after all her 66th birth day too!
We are now rapidly approaching maximum Habby (Hablitzia tamnoides) harvest, so most meals now have masses of shoots of this amazing perennial vegetable. We make sourdough bread every two or three weeks (it stores well) and usually make pizza with some of the same dough. 100% whole grain with zero refined flour of course. Yesterday, I collected a large bowl of Hablitzia shoots and also used Allium scorodoprasum and a few dandelion leaves for the year’s first Habbizza!
The pizza was served with delicious raw urui (Hosta sieboldiana) with a roasted sesame seed / soya sauce dipping sauce:
Yesterday was the first day above 10C this year and my Hablitzia (Caucasian spinach) plants are really growing fast. We used those in the picture together with thinned Allium scorodoprasum bulbs and shoots in a delicious home grown pea soup.
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden