I 2021 publiserte Norsk Hagetidend en serie artikler jeg hadde skrevet om 10 av mine favoritt flerårige grønnsaker til Norsk Hagetidend. Alle artiklene kan nå bli lastet ned ved å klikke på lenkene nedenfor!
English: In 2021, I wrote a series of two page articles about my favourite perennial vegetables for Norsk Hagetidend (the magazine of the Norwegian Horticultural Society) in Norwegian. The complete series can be found below.
The plants are (scroll down to all the articles): February 2021 Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde (Hablitzia tamnoides)
Presenting this year’s udo (Aralia cordata) almost fully extended 🙂 Thanks to Elin Eriksen for the picture (she has been Artist in Residence at the Edible Garden the last few days with focus on perennial vegetables)!
On 9th April 2016 I was staying with my new friend Tei Kobayashi in the mountains in a lovely village, Nogura, above Ueda in Nagano Prefecture. I was put in touch with Tei through a mutual friend in Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN), Caroline Ho-Bich-Tuyen Dang, when I put out a call for an interpreter when visiting the farm with the underground udo forcing caverns in Tokyo: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=8284 and https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=7499 Tei had kindly agreed to travel down to help out! She took me to see udo (Aralia cordata) being grown on a small farm in her village with a villager who had knowledge of sansai. The new shoots were just appearing through a thick layer of rice husks. Here’s a video and some pictures of this beautiful place! Thanks again to you Tei for your hospitality without which this would never have been possible! There will hopefully be more posts from the visit with Tei as soon as time allows! Tei starts talking about another use of rice husks, in nukazuke, fermented vegetables in rice bran (nuka), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nukazuke (Thanks to Tei for the following clarification: I just wanted to comment on the Udo cultivation process. I just learned that it is not “nuka “ but “momigara” that the plants are grown in to keep them white. “Momigara is the outermost husk of the rice kernel. “Nuka” is the inner rice hull it is very finely ground into an almost powdery substance. Nuka is the outer covering of the rice that is removed to make it white…it is often polished after the hull is removed”.)
Showing us Chengiopanaxsciadophylloides (koshiabura) which had yet to emerge:
Yesterday, I introduced Agricultural Explorer David Fairchild who, inspired from visiting Japan, was determined to try to introduce udo (Aralia cordata) and wrote an interesting paper 120 years ago giving more details about this novel perennial vegetable: Udo introduction to the US with cultivation instructions (1903) 11 years later in 1914, he wrote a really interesting report summing up his experiences with udo. It blows my mind to read how much work was done on this plant over 100 years ago, but sad to see that it was never adopted in a big way! You can read the whole report and I recommend you do, but I’ve picked out some titbits from the report that I found particularly interesting followed by a few other interesting excerpts from various inventories of introduced plants to the US!
I stumbled upon this interesting US Department of Agriculture Bulletin from 1903 by David Fairchild, who calls himself Agricultural Explorer, entitled “Three New Plant Introductions from Japan”. There are 4 pages and some photos concerning udo (Aralia cordata) in the article “Udo : A new winter salad” (see pages 17-20 and the plates in the pdf below). This gives detailed growing instructions for “Kan udo” and “Moyashi udo” for harvesting during winter (October to May); these are cultivation techniques rather than udo varieties. Winter cultivation is more relevant to areas with relatively warm winters. The other two plant introductions are Edgeworthia chrysantha as a fibre plant (for producing paper) and wasabi (Wasabia japonica). Kyle Dougherty posted on my Edimentals Facebook group in 2021 about the same program with a great picture of udo cultivation and wrote “Here’s an interesting story for the udo (Aralia cordata) fans out there. In 1902 the USDA imported some 25,000 improved udo plants into the United States from Japan for trialing as a new vegetable crop. Plants were grown at the experiment station in Rockville, MD until at least 1917, and were also distributed to private gardens around the country and the Chico field station in CA. The Rockville experiment station is long gone, and is now the site of Montgomery College, but I can’t help but wonder if any of these plants are still out there somewhere. It’s also kind of a bummer that it never really caught on despite the effort the USDA put into it.”
Here’s the document I discovered (pages and plates are repeated below)
The best of spring in one sitting. In celebration of the country Norway, we yesterday (17th May) harvested a small selection of the best blanched perennial vegetables (apart from the ostrich fern which had to be harvested or it would have been too late). This included three udo species (Aralia cordata, Aralia californica and Aralia racemosa), sea kale (Crambe maritima), Hosta “Big Daddy” together with delicious sweet blanched ramsons (Allium ursinum) . They were all eaten raw (apart from the fern which was steamed for 10 minutes) with a Japanese dipping sauce – olive oil (should have been sesame), tamari (soy sauce) and roasted sesame seeds. These accompanied an onion soup prepared with half of the leaves from one plant of Wietses Onion, a vigorous hybrid of Allium pskemense and Allium fistulosum! It doesn’t get much better than this! More information with the pictures:
This year’s udo (Aralia cordata) selfie pictures, probably the highest ever with a flowering spike way above my head. I harvested about 1/3 of the shoots in the spring. This is my largest herbaceous perennial vegetable that was planted here 20 years old ago! It has never had any fertiliser and is growing on the steepest slope in my garden. Ostrich fern (strutseving) and giant bellflower (storklokke) can be seen in the foreground.
Not something I can make very often as I don’t find fasciated dandelions very often! A simple salad was put together, made fascinating with a fasciated dandelion. The blanched udo (Aralia cordata) was ready: I harvested some blanched sea kale (Crambe maritima) too and I found a fasciated dandelion to decorate the salad The udo was peeled
…and the salad was put together with the fasciated dandelion flower stem cut into strips and mixed in with a sesame oil – soya sauce dressing:
During a webinar recently somebody asked me recently whether udo (Aralia cordata) resprouts in the same season if one cuts it. I said I would give photographic evidence that it does. The first picture is the blanched udo ready to eat. It was cut right down on 1st April. It reacted quickly by sending up two new shoots, one of which I ate and the second picture is what it looks like on 24th April (it was kept inside). So, the answer is yes that udo certainly responds quickly to us harvesting it.
Almost exactly 5 years ago this week I was on a study tour to Japan to look at Sansai production. I’m doing a webinar talk about the trip for Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) on 18th April. Although it’s open for all it will be in Norwegian. If there is interest for it I could repeat in English at some stage, but probably not before next winter. If anyone would like to organise it, please let me know. Otherwise, I may just organise it as the first Edimentals talk! See https://www.facebook.com/events/1333421547030675 Sansai (meaning mountain vegetables, mostly perennials) are what are essentially previously wild foraged vegetables which are now produced on farms in the lowlands around the cities in Japan, often in greenhouses for all year production – roots are often frozen until they are needed). With a little planning one can extend the season for some of the best sansai vegetables by digging up roots in the autumn and planting them in soil in buckets which are stored in my cold cellar (just above 0C this winter), and ready to be brought up into the living room for forcing in winter / spring (they could also be left outside, protected by piling leaves or similar around them – the roots are more exposed to cold in a bucket). For blanching I use a second upturned bucket on top. I’ve now harvested three important sansai veggies which were forced (it took a couple of weeks); Udo (Aralia cordata): peeled and sliced and eaten as a salad in a sesame oil and soy sauce with roasted sesame seed dressing Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris): steamed for 10 minutes Urui (Hosta sieboldiana): The blanched shoots are deliciously crispy and mild tasting, perfect with a dipping sauce (sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds and soy sauce) The sansai were served with fried veggie beetroot burgers (aka blood burgers) which are cooked and grated beetroot mixed with egg and wholegrain emmer flour (with grated onion, garlic, chili, salt and pepper).
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden