Mini-glut of runner beans

The climate is such here that starting runner beans / blomsterbønner (Phaseolus coccineus) in mid-May they normally aren’t ready to harvest until September and the first frosts in October usually stop their development. Growing seed to maturity is also a challenge in many years, so it’s difficult to select better and earlier varieties more suited to my climate. Early October and we are only just managing to eat all the runner beans. Only once in the almost 40 years I’ve been growing them here was there such a big harvest that I had to preserve them. Not having a freezer, they were salted for later use. These were used in a fish soup this week, sliced using an English runner bean shredder! I grew two varieties this year, the heirloom Painted Lady with bicoloured red and white flowers and red flowered Firestorm with very long stringless beans. Firestorm was a little later. They were transplanted outside at home and in the Americas part of the World Garden at the Væres Venner Community Garden.



Grape leaves

I love it when edible plants find their own place in my garden! I planted a hardy grape species Vitis coignetiae from the Far East including Japan, Korea and the Sakhalin. At least, I think this is what it is as I don’t have any records of planting it. I think it originated in a plant sale or cutting from the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim who have a large plant covering the whole wall of a garage. This also produces small fruits which are being increasingly used for wines in Japan (and some breeding is also being done); see the Japanese wiki page: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%A4%E3%83%9E%E3%83%96%E3%83%89%E3%82%A6. This species is dioecious (male and female flowers on different plants), so I guess there is more than one plant at Ringve and there’s little chance of mine producing fruit. 
I planted it originally in a shady spot at the corner of the extension (low roof in the picture) some 20 years or more ago. Today there are no leaves or vine above the original planting spot and a vine creeps about 5m from the root horizontally on the ground along the house wall, rooting, along the way, and climbs up into the yew tree I planted next to the house for the birds in winter. The grape has finally reached the top of the yew this summer and is the leaves are almost smothering the yew!

The vine running along the house wall!

I’m inspired by Eric Toensmeier’s work on the nutrition of perennial vegetables and specifically his article “The most nutritious perennial vegetables for cold climates” (see https://www.permaculturenews.org/2021/06/21/the-most-nutritious-perennial-vegetables-for-cold-climates) to use the leaves of my grape for more than the occasional wrapped dish. The taste of the leaf is good raw!
Eric wrote about cultivated grape leaves: “Grape leaf (Vitis vinifera). Worth eating for nutrition and not just because stuffed grape leaves are delicious. Extremely high in fiber, very high in calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin A, and high in Vitamin E.”
I did find a comment that the shoots of this species are eaten in Japan. 
See also the video in this post: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=23629

 

The nutrition of perennial vegetables

Thanks to Eric Toensmeier in collaboration with 6 other groups including Annevi Sjöberg in Sweden and Karoline Nolsø Aaen & Tycho Holcomb in Denmark and Aaron Parker in the US for this interesting publication confirming the excellent nutritional properties of perennial vegetables. This confirms to me that integrating a range of perennial crops as vegetables in your diet is nutritionally highly beneficial, in addition to all the other benefits including using less energy, water, fertiliser and integrated in a forest garden system which allows us to co-exist with nature and a wide range of other organisms (birds, insects etc.).
The report can be downloaded here: The Nutrition of Perennial Vegetables

Scything the meadow

There’s a small meadow area in the garden that I scythe once a year to maintain it.  Yesterday I raked up the dried material. This area had clearly been maintained by the previous owners as it doesn’t take long before it reverts to woodland. When they bought the land in 1939 there were sheep grazing here.
Just a few pictures:

Old aerial photos (norgeibilder.no) show that the garden had much less vegetation at the beginning and this meadow remnant has been kept clear from the start! The 3 pictures below were taken over a span of 70 years in 2016, 1976 and 1947.

Flowering Aster scaber

September is the month when several Asteraceae are in flower including one of my favourite perennial vegetables and edimentals Aster scaber (yes, I know it’s officially Doellingeria scabra) or chamchwi in Korea where it’s cultivated commercially for Korean markets around the world (often sold dried). It’s also popular with pollinating insects as can be seen in the gallery taken this week here.

….and a parasitic wasp on the flowers:

 

See this page for more links to articles about this plant on this blog: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6080
It’s also one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants.

Buddleja davidii

One of the few plants in my garden which isn’t edible is my large Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush / sommerfuglbusk), a wonderful entomental (loved by insects and an ornamental appreciated by Homo sapiens too!). It is strategically placed beneath the balcony so that I can look down from above. As chance has it, I had also planted old man’s beard / tysk klematis (Clematis vitalba) to climb up onto the balcony. The latter is equally popular with late summer pollinators, mainly hoverflies. So this is one of the best spots for watching and photographing the local insect life. However, after coming into flower 2-3 weeks ago there were no butterflies, but a rare 20C day brought them out and both painted lady (tistelsommerfugl; the first since the bumper year two years ago and only the second recorded this summer in Trøndelag county), red admiral (admiral) and comma / hvit C were out yesterday! But it’s at night that the butterfly bush is covered with pollinators, notably an estimated 200 large yellow underwing moths (hagebåndfly) 

Sweet Chestnut at 63.4N!

About 20 years ago I sowed some sweet chestnuts that I found in Southern England. One germinated and surpisingly to me it survived the first few winters. I therefore planted it out at the bottom of the garden. However, this area of the garden was overplanted and it became survival of the fittest (I didn’t really believe I would ever get chestnuts!)… It continued to grow slowly and survived one of our coldest winters ever around 2011 with only the tips freezing out (the whole root system down to the bed rock would have been frozen solid for 3-4 months). Seeing the exciting possibility of growing perhaps the furthest north chestnuts in the world, I gave the tree more space and planted a second tree (Marigoule) next to it (one tree can produce nuts, but yields are better with two). Then 3-4 weeks ago I noticed that the now about 5m high tree had produced a few male and female flowers which were opening at about the same time and I hope I now have a couple of chestnuts developing. However, it’s debatable if they will have time to mature in what has been a really cold summer here at 63.4 deg. N!

The chestnut is centre left and is surrounded by Cornus kousa, shagback hickory (Carya ovata), Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) and chinese walnut (Juglans cathayensis)

Sochan tops Mediterranean style

Thanks to Alan Bergo (@foragerchef) for reminding me to try sochan tops. This is Rudbeckia laciniata (cut-leafed coneflower) which in the double form is one of the most popular garden ornamentals here in Norway over the last 100 years and a plant that has been commercialised as a farm vegetable over recent years in Korea. I’d previously only eaten the spring shoots, but I was equally impressed by the tops which I used simply cooked with onion, garlic and  yellow zucchini from the garden, various fungi picked in the woods (saffron milkcap/matriske; hedgehog fungus / piggsopp and chantarelles / kantarell) and scrambled with eggs with a little chilim added (a classic way for preparing wild edibles in the Mediterranean countries. See the pictures below.
See other posts on this great vegetable which was introduced to me in one of Samuel Thayer’s books:
Appalachian Greens 
Cherokee Pizza 

Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden