Tag Archives: Væres Venner Felleshage

Root Chicory Trials 2021 at Være

One of the experiments this year in the KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) trial gardens at Væres Venner in Trondheim has been a comparison of different root chicories. These have 3 main uses:
Witloof (literally “white leaf”) or forcing chicories used for producing chicons, also known as Belgian or French endive (forced from the roots in the dark, usually in winter. to reduce the bitterness);
Root chicories where the root is used as a vegetable, popular in winter in Italy;
Coffee chicories are also in the group root chicories and sometimes the same varieties harvested more mature and used as coffee surrogate (ground and roasted).
There are hundreds of varieties of chicories with multiple other uses. Common for all here in the north is that they are relatively easy to grow with few pests and diseases, thus easier to grow organically than for example the cabbage family. However, they are almost never used here in Norway. In Norway’s largest FB group on vegetables “Grønnsaksdyrking i Hele Norge” with 36,000 members there is only one mention of chicory)(sikkori) and that more as a wild plant than something you would cultivate. 
This is partly because most have been selected for a very different (Mediterranean) climate and some go to seed (bolt) in the first year which significantly lowers yields. Witloof chicories have, however, largely been improved further north (Belgium and France) and my experience has shown that these varieties only occasionally bolt (out of several hundred plants grown this year, none bolted!).

The chicory bed just before harvest. There are 9 varieties along the 1.2m wide raised bed.

I sourced different varieties of root chicories from the German genebank IPK Gatersleben with the objective to select a good variety in the two main groups for my area (I had previously had reasonably good experience growing witloof chicories for forcing in winter; see the picture below). I wanted also to explore if it is possible to be self-sufficient in seed. As part of the seed saving process, roots need to be overwintered and grown to flowering in the second year. Hardiness of chicories varies a lot between varieties and I therefore overwinter roots in my cold cellar, but plan also later to test winter hardiness outside. Some chicories can also perennialize like the wild species and this is a secondary project to select high yielding perennial and hardy chicories. Another great characteristic of chicories and side-effect of seed saving is that the beautiful chicory flowers are very popular with pollinators and a number of selections with different flower colours are also available for growing as an ornamental. This is indeed a great combination plant that I term an edi-ento-mental (edible, good for the pollinators and ornamentally valuable too).
See the various flower variants I’ve grown in this post: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18650

Winter forced Witloof chicons from my cold cellar in mid¨-February

Chicory in flower in my garden

I was pleased with the yield, which was better than I’ve experienced in my shady garden at home. The fact that the roots are irregular in size is probably at least in part due to the fact that the spacing between the roots was a little irregular (I will try for a more even spacing next year).

Witloof chicory Prezo RZ performed well
Witloof chicory Extra Vroege Mechelse had a lot of forking roots


We’ve grown 4 varieties of Witloof forcing chicories including Witloof Prezo RZ, Witloof Extra Vroege Mechelse (Early) and Witloof Dobbel Blank. In the video there are 9 varieties shown and the Witloofs are #2, 7, 8 and 9. There are some nice size roots and I plan to grown on the largest 20-25 or so roots for seed, which will then be made available to KVANN members.

Nice sized roots of the edible root variety Radici di Soncino

The root chicory Radici di Chiavara 

There were two varieties of root chicory and both gave good yields. I will probably grow again next year in larger quantity (the descriptions are taken from Stephen Facciola’s Cornucopia II)
Radici di Chiavara (Chiavari)
Grown primarily for its root, although the leaves are also used and have a good flavor. The root is thick-collared, creamy white and uniform. Grows over a long season, from early spring until late fall. To prepare, scrape and boil the root until tender. Slice thinly and serve with vinaigrette, or it can be rolled in bread crumbs, deep fried and served with lemon and parsley.
Radici di Soncino(Radison)
Long, narrow roots with creamy white skin and flesh; rather bitter. May be harvested anytime from autumn until the following spring. Popular in Italy where it is considered very healthful and is cooked and eaten in many ways.

Below is a video showing all the harvested roots:

KVANN’s World Garden

At the Væres Venner community garden on the outskirts of Trondheim at Ranheim in an area we hope will remain a green belt, I have been working to create what we call Verdenshagen (The World Garden) in collaboration with KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) and Schübelers nettverk. This is a network of gardens throughout Norway which is being launched in June 2021 in honour of Fredrik Christian Schübeler (1815-1892) was a botanist and professor at the University in Christiania (now Oslo) and director of the Botanical Gardens for nearly 30 years from 1863. He established a network of gardens throughout Norway, often in collaboration with prestegård (rectory gardens) to test out new plants of economical importance (both ornamentals and edibles). Our new network is also planned centred around rectory gardens and other gardens to demonstrate and inspire to grow new plants but also to conserve old varieties of food plants and ornamentals. See more at https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=https://kvann.no/schubeler
The World Garden is basically a 12 m diameter circle where the centre represents the North Pole and houses a garden of Arctic food plants. Largely perennial vegetables are being planted geographically around the circle, currently some 80 plants, many of which can be read about inspired by my own book Around the World in 80 plants (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=30). The garden is surrounded by over 100 old and new fruit, berry and nut trees and another demonstration garden for annual crops.
The intention is to add pictures to the album below throughout the year from the World Garden. Our focus is also in creating and improving the habitat at Være for other wildlife, so there will also be pictures of insects, birds and other creatures. 

Jerusalem Artichoke Harvest at Væres Venner

At the weekend I harvested all the Jerusalem Artichokes (jordskokk) at the Væres Venner Community Garden. This was two bike loads with a big rucksack to get home :)
This is a mix of experimental JAs from crosses made in Italy by Paolo Gaiardelli between our best variety Dagnøytral (which is probably identical to Stampede, Bianca and Dwarf Sunray) and other varieties (unfortunately I lost the label and am not sure of the details). You can see in the second picture which tubers I’ve selected for growing on!
I also completed bastard (double) digging a new bed at the back of the shed for various climbers including hardy kiwi Actinidia arguta!



Henry’s Quinoa Harvest

At the Væres Venner community garden, I’ve planted 6 or 7 different Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus; stolt henrik) plants from different sources. In my book you can read how this plant which is closely related to annual quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), is probably the most promising perennial grain. Even in my cold climate, it can give two yields per season and the first yield is far ahead of annual grains here! I’m hoping that one of the varieties may have slightly larger seeds (the seeds are smaller than quinoa). The only drawbacks are that the seed are difficult to clean by hand. I winnow the seed and then do the final clean. Two of my 6-7 plants were harvested here. I’m dreaming of perennial grains being grown on a large scale in the future, even in my climate…there are many benefits including less energy needed for ploughing, less fertiliser and irrigation requirements and higher carbon sequestration than annual grains. However, we do urgently need breeding programs to try to produce improved larger seed varieties.

 

Red-tailed bumblebee: new species for the garden

Yesterday, I registered red-tailed bee / steinhumle (Bombus lapidarius) for the first time at the community garden (Væres Venner), the first time in this part of Trondheim. This is a common species in the city and is probably the commonest bumblebee in the Allium garden at the botanical gardens. Today, I saw this species for the first time in my own garden, the first record in this area.  It was on Allium pskemense, probably the most popular plant in my garden for bumblebees. In the second video you can see both the white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum; lys jordhumle) and tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum; trehumle). Please correct me if I’m wrong!

Fascinating fasciated dandelions

I was working at Væres Venner Community Garden yesterday and noticed a deformed (fasciated) dandelion flower. This can be caused by a range of factors including  random genetic mutation, virus and bacterial infections. Damage to the plant’s growing tip and exposure to cold and frost can also cause fasciation and with the very cold weather after a mild start to spring is probably the cause in this case (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasciation). 
Searching around I discovered two other fasciated dandelions! This phenomenon is rare, but I have seen it before a few times. However, I’ve never seen more than one plant affected within a small area before! I photographed each of the plants below and fantasising about making fascinating fasciated dandinoodles* or rather dandi-lasagne as the flower stems are flattened :)
Unfortunately, this mutation doesn’t seem to return in the following year in dandelions..

*Dandinoodles (løvenudler) are made from quickly boiling the flower stems perferably before the flowers open and just mixing with butter or olive oil:



Fasciated Plant #1 had twin or siamese flowers:

Fasciated Plant #2 had 6 flowers on the one stem and a twisted flower stem! Note that the fasciated stem is shorter than the normal flower stems:

Fasciated Plant #3 was different again, this time a single distorted flower (cresting):




 

Walnut harvest

My first ripe walnut from Væres Venner Community Garden in Trondheim…the same year as I planted it! I should have removed it to allow the tree to gather strength. I didn’t notice the flowers, so was surprised to discover the walnut in the summer! It is one of the Loiko varieties developed by Dr. Loiko in Belarus…reckoned to be one of the world’s hardiest walnuts. The tree is only about 1m tall! Good to get confirmation in the first year that walnuts will ripen in our cold summers! I’ve had ripe Juglans mandschurica in my garden for almost 10 years, but previous attempts with Juglans regia have ended in failure (hardiness issues with young plants?)
The plantings at Væres Venner have been supported by KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers), the first of a network of gardens being developed across Norway both to take care of the genetics of old varieties of Norwegian useful plants, but also, as is the case here, to show what food we could be growing locally! The possibility of growing nuts locally makes it more realistic to eat a locally grown mostly vegetarian climate-friendly diet. I have a dream of walnut and hazel plantations in my area replacing the ubiquitous grain fields.
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=23507

This year’s Norwegian heritage potatoes

This is the second year we’ve grown the ten  (new) virus-cleaned mini-seed potato varieties made available every year through the national Norwegian program, managed by Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN), to conserve our potato heritage.  These have been grown in KVANNs vegetable sanctuary at Væres Venner Community garden.  These will be used as seed potatoes for next year!  In order to try to restrict the spread of disease, those receiving the mini-tubers are not allowed to pass them on or swap them!
In the picture below, the following varieties are seen:
Top row:  Truls, Shetland Black, Tysk Blå, Hroars Drege, Gjernes Potet
Bottom row: Røde fra Skjåk, Beate, Ivar, Kerrs Pink Blå, Brage

Last year’s potatoes are seen in the following link:

Potato harvest at Væres Venner

American chestnut at Ringve in Trondheim

There’s a great little American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) just outside the office building at Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim where I work. This one has bloomed almost all summer.

The tree has separate male and female flowers, but there has to be at least two trees for pollination ….

I have 5 one-year-old trees from a northern provenance, Jefferson County in Washington State (via Chris Homanics in Oregon) and hope that Ringve would like to plant more eventually….I would love to see if the nuts would ripen here… and also help to preserve a tree species that is threatened with extinction by an imported fungal disease where it grows wild in eastern North America. In its homeland, this is one of the quickest to produce nuts from seed (as early as 5 years!)

Chris, one of my food diversity / preparedness heroes, wrote in 2016:

“Last month was spent collecting many distinct types of chestnuts from about 30 separate sites throughout Western Washington and Oregon. Some were even from old naturalized forests full of chestnut trees. Amassed it represents a diverse foundation stock for planting up, far and wide. In the face of growing droughts and the woes of climate change, I believe this plant will play a significant role in feeding people in the future as it has gone far back into the deep past. My hope is to help foster a revival of interest with the chestnut as a viable sustainable food source by offering a diverse collection of these nuts to the public to select and adapt to their local environment. ”

My other plants I’d like to plant in KVANN’s garden at Væres Venner Felleshage!

 

KVANN på Væres Venner 28. mai 2019

Jeg har nå utvidet KVANNs hage på Væres Venner Felleshagen (Trondheim) og igår plantet opp følgende:
1) Årets virusrensete miniknoller av norske potet: Tysk Blå, Hroar’s Dege, Shetland Black, Gjernes Potet, Kerr’s Pink Blå, Beate, Truls, Ivar, Raude fra Skjåk og Brage
2) Frøplanter av Carolus poteten (true seed); resistent sort
3) Potet under halm (delvis mot kveke): 15 sorter inkl. fjorårets miniknoller
4) Et nytt bed (snudd opp ned for hånd mot kveke) med diverse flerårige kales (flatbladet grønnkål) fra frø: Daubenton x Pentland Brig / Nero di Toscana grex; Pentland Brig (OP), Asturian Tree Kale, Cottager’s Kale (OP) og Daubenton x late purple flowering broccoli (min krysning, OP)