I think it was Nathan Shannon who sent me seed of the white-flowered variant of common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), now blooming for the first time! There are 10+ pages about Sonchus oleraceus in my book and also other blog posts on this site, probably my most used vegetable in July-August each year!
Broad beans (favas / bondebønner) will easily cross with other varieties that are growing nearby. In order to keep a variety pure, you need to isolate them physically. I like to have different varieties with different coloured flowers and bean colour in additon to maintaining early yielding varieties such as Express. I’ve found that I can plant different forms close together and if I save separately beans with different colour and bean size and mark for saving plants with particularly nice flower colours, then I can maintain a good mix in the same place. The flower forms below are all growing within a few metres in the Væres Venner community garden. They were grown from the mix of beans saved at the same place in 2018 (first picture). I don’t offer the different forms as named varieties, but as a mix or composite “Væres Venner Mix” so that others can also select for separate forms! Bumble bees were all over the flowers when I was there!
10 years ago today I had my first celebrity visit, from the UK! On 10th April 2010 I received the following email message entitled Permaveggies: “I am a garden writer based in Birmingham, England. I came across your work via an interview with you on a website and am very interested in learning more about your garden. I also share a love for unusual edibles that can be used in an ‘ornamental setting’. I suppose my garden has one foot in the forest garden camp and the other in a cottage garden. The greatest majority are edibles (everything from your typical vegetables to the more unusuals) with the rest being useful plants for medicine, feeding the garden or pollinators. I suppose the interesting part is that it’s a typical row terrace garden that’s about 60 ft long- cramped in is one way of looking at its design principles. I’ve written a book about it called the Edible Garden with it in conjunction with a programme on BBC2. Anyhow I would love to talk more about your work and what you’ve discovered. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely Alys Fowler” The interview was the one published on my friend Telsing Andrews’ blog, The Veggie Patch Reimagined (see https://veggiepatchreimagined.blogspot.com/2010/02/stephens-edimental-oasis-interview.html). As part of this BBC series, permaculture had just been featured on 7th April 2010. The BBC crew visited Tim and Maddy Harland’s (my publishers) garden and were bowled over by their mature forest garden full of food and wildlife. In my reply I jokingly wrote “Stop by next time you’re in the area”! Little did I know that she would do just that a few months later! It turned out that she was researching her book “The Thrifty Forager” and was “looking for people to interview who boldly eat what others might not think to…”! Alys’ book The Thrifty Forager was published the year after but my book with Introduction by Alys took another 3 years! She devotes a whole section to my garden, its plants and The Modern Monk (guess who?) :) In the foreword to my book, there’s a picture of Alys reading my old coverless copy of Cornucopia II in the garden! Below are 4 albums of pictures taken by Alys’ cameraman Brian Wheeler! I have fond memories of this visit during a really hot period after the coldest June since the 1960s. The first album are pictures from the garden, the second from a forage and swim in the fjord, then a trip up to a local mountain Vennafjellet , via a second swimming spot, Nevrahølet (we were finished quite quickly with the pictures and interview in the garden due to the wonderful weather) and finally some pictures from Trondheim! Alys was also a presenter on BBC’s Gardener’s World and writes a gardening column for the Guardian!
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!
I’ve grown numerous forms of garden orach (Atriplex hortensis; hagemelde) over the years as they are useful and decorative (edimental) annuals for the summer garden. Even though they are grown quite close to each other they don’t see to cross much. My red form (var. rubra) has maintained its colour for over 20 years in one small patch. Other favourites include golden orach (var. aurea) and an heirloom from Seed Savers Exchange in the US “Marie Barnes”. My favourite though is the Norwegian heirloom “Backlund/Bly” with enormous green leaves. Sadly, the seed doesn’t mature often here and I’ve lost it. Although this plant originated in Norway, it no doubt modified to its new home in the Mid-West in the US where it was maintained for several generations in a Norwegian family. See the (Norwegian) story here: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/3_Backlund-Bly_Hagemelde.pdf There are also a number of green Danish heirlooms like “Lille Næstved Skole” You can maybe spot red and golden orach as well as “Marie Barnes” in this salad ingredient picture (click on the plants in the picture for the names) https://www.adressa.no/pluss/magasin/article9858403.ece?rs6280711594805805236&t=1 I use them mainly in summer, both in mixed salads and cooked in numerous dishes, as there are plenty of other perennial greens available in early summer. See the pictures below:
With most Norwegians holidaying in different parts of Norway this year, there are a lot of folks passing Malvik both northwards and southwards and I’ve recently had several requests to visit the garden again. On Saturday, I spent a pleasant couple of hours in the company of Mads Pålsrud (from GROWLAB, who designed Norwegian Seed Savers / KVANN’s logos) and musician/gardener Bård Watn from Oslo who were here together with Karoline Rånes Fagerheim, who lives in Kirkenes, and her friend Rannveig:
Mads took the following pictures during the garden tour (nice to see what somebody else notices in the garden)
Perilla frutescens var crispa f. purpurascens (red or purple shiso) is looking good on the window sill in front of my desk! This is an important crop in the Far East both used as a flavouring, a dye plant, as wraps (the seeds, seed oil and seed sprouts are also used). I’d love to use the leaves to colour pickled chinese artichokes (chorogi), as shown on the Backyard Larder blog (see https://backyardlarder.co.uk/plants/chinese-artichoke), but the chorogi aren’t ready until November. Maybe I’ll try drying some leaves! I grow this annual indoors as it’s generally too cold outside here in summer. It’s also difficult to save seeds as it doesn’t start flowering until late autumn and usually dies rather than producing seeds, a dead end for me, but now and again someone offers me seed for trading as in this case! Perilla is also of course commonly used as an ornamental in warmer areas like Southern England, but I’ve also seen it outside in Gothenburg in Southern Sweden. Perilla is in the mint family and it’s also easy to make more plants by taking cuttings (like basil). I most often use shiso in my mixed salads.
Allium atroviolaceum is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental. I’ve been growing it for some 15 years now and it is admittedly not very productive as an edimental under my conditions, but it’s nevertheless a beauty and it is currently coming into flower both in my own garden and the Allium garden at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim, where the pictures below were taken. Its wild distribution is in the Crimea, Caucasus, Middle Asia (Mountainous Turkmenistan, Syr-Darya foothill areas) and Iran.
In the Armenian Highlands in Eastern Turkey, there are several ethnobotanical studies documenting its use in local food, presumably wild collected, although there are indications that it might also be cultivated for food including: 1) In otlu peyniri, a herbed cheese made out of sheep’s or cow’s milk. it is used as a flavouring along with many other species (from Wikipedia): Ranunculus polyanthemos L.(Ranunculaceae) Nasturtium officinale R. Br. (Brassicaceae) Gypsophila L. spp. (Caryophyllaceae) Silene vulgaris (Maench) Garcke var. vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae) Anthriscus nemorosa (Bieb.) Sprengel (Apiaceae) Carum carvi L. (Apiaceae) Anethum graveolens L. (Apiaceae) Prangos pabularia Lindl. (Apiaceae) Prangos ferulacea (L.) Lind. (Apiaceae) Ferula L. sp. (Apiaceae) Ferula orientalis L. (Apiaceae) Ferula rigidula DC. (Apiaceae) Thymus kotschyanus Boiss. et Hohen. var. glabrescens Boiss. (Lamiaceae) Thymus migricus Klokov et Des. – Shoct. (Lamiaceae) Mentha spicata L. subsp. spicata (Lamiaceae) Ziziphora clinopodioides Lam. (Lamiaceae) Ocimum basilicum L. (Lamiaceae) Eremurus spectabilis Bieb. (Liliaceae) Allium schoenoprasum L. (Liliaceae) Allium fuscoviolaceum Fomin (Liliaceae) Allium scorodoprasum L.subsp. rotundum(L.)Stearn (Liliaceae) Allium aucheri Boiss. (Liliaceae) Allium paniculatum L. subsp. paniculatum (Liliaceae) Allium akaka S. G. Gmelin (Liliaceae) Allium cf. cardiostemon Fisch. et Mey. (Liliaceae) 2) In another study, the young shoots are used in various dishes and as a flavouring with yoghurt. It us used both boiled and raw. The bulbs are used to replace garlic in food. Local names in Turkey include sirmo, körmen, and yabani sarimsak.