Category Archives: Climbers

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

 

Habby pizza time with Urui shoots

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:

First seed saved for 2021

You’ll find old man’s beard or tysk klematis in Norwegian (Clematis vitalba) in Italian foraging books as the young cooked shoots are popular there in spring (they shouldn’t be eaten raw). There’s a very narrow time window for harvesting this, so I seldom eat much of it. However, it doubles as being an exceptoionally popular plant for pollinating insects (hoverflies and drone flies in particular) when it is in flower for a long period from late summer to autumn when there are few other flowers out.  lt cilmbs up onto my balcony which makes photography easier!
I started this from seed collected on the chalk downs of Hampshire (in the area where I grew up) about 25 years ago. 

Runner Bean harvest

As I wrote earlier, it looks like we may have a glut of runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) this year, the first time for many years. Runner beans are borderline here and last year we only managed to get a few beans before the first frosts. This year, we could have made a first harvest a week ago, but I wanted to keep the first beans for seed for the next couple of years. Yesterday we had bread dough ready and therefore made a pizza with runner beans and a mix of fungi picked in the woods (separate post). The dough was 100% coarse whole grain rye, spelt and emmer (sourdough)! Delicious as always!

Hopniss at 63.4N

Hopniss (Apios americana), one of several plants known also as ground nut, is a clambering perennial legume and native american food plant of Eastern North America from Southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. For a good account of this as a food plant, look no further than Samuel Thayer’s book “The Forager’s Harvest”. Like many others I’ve tried and failed to grow this and no longer do so. However, it was fun trying and I did at least get  something to eat. 
I first planted this 20 years ago in my old unheated greenhouse in October 1999. Hillery Hanby who was a member of the Yahoo group Edible Wild kindly sent me a tuber. It grew weakly and didn’t produce anything. Then in early 2009, Hristo from Bulgaria, one of the active members of the Homegrown Goodness forum persuaded me to try again with his supposedly improved variety and I planted it in the greenhouse in spring 2009. This grew better and flowers were opening on 9th October 2011:

On 13th November 2011 I discovered I had a small yield (this is 3 year’s growth!). The tubers grow on a long string rhizome and Sam Thayer reports from 2 to up to 20 tubers on each.  He also reports that tubers (in the wild) can vary from size of a grape to a grapefruit and shape also varied considerably.

I also had a plant grown in two large pots which I also harvested and both had about 15 small tuberlets on the rhizome that was found winding aroud the base of the pots:

Then, a month later, disaster struck and the greenhouse look like this after  a major storm, Dagmar, devastated this area:

I had replanted some tubers which grew poorly under the new colder conditions without the greenhouse. I was therefore suprised to find my largest tuber “ever” two years later on 26th October 2013:

I suspect that I had missed this one in 2011 and this was one was therefore the result of 5 seasons of growth.    Then, in 2014, I took part in trials of new improved varieties.  Søren Holt in Denmark coordinated this trial of 4 varieties received from Gautam in New York. Both Søren, Åke Truedsson and myself participated.  Gautam wrote: “I have just received our latest batch of improved Apios americana, and am taking the liberty of sending you a very few tubers of our best “bunching” and “trailing” cultivars. Will send you the smallest sizes, for convenience in shipping, but not to worry. They come from excellent stock, with excellent size potential”. Here they are on arrival:

They were planted in a sheltered spot in the garden.  These improved varieties were far from improved enough for my climate and. despite having shoots ready on planting, two of the varieties didn’t even bother to grow and the second two grew so badly that I gave up the trial after a couple of years!
So that’s my experience of hopniss in Malvik. I guess I need to try at least one more time before saying it’s not worth it in my climate.
There is one other species, Apios priceana. This one produces one large tuber, but judging by its wild distribution it is unlikely to be more cold tolerant. I’ve only seen it once, at Joe Hollis’ Mountain Gardens in North Carolina last autumn.

 

 

 




Hablitzia: from seed to flowering in 4 months

I’ve often noted that Hablitzia plants grow slowly the first year or so, but under ideal conditions (more warmth than we get outdoors here) they can grow fast…
I sowed seed in February, stratifying first for 10 days in the fridge and they germinated quickly in the living room. I grew them on indoors (it was too cold to put them out) and for lack of space I planted together with newly planted taro (Colocasia esculenta) tubers in a large pot. They grew quickly and they were about to start flowering yesterday when I dug up the plants and moved outside!

Hablitzia as a weed!

Hablitzia as a weed!
While researching Hablitzia tamnoides for my book Around the World in 80 plants (2014) I found the following simple entry in a 19th century encyclopedia of ornamental plants:
The author was clearly not impressed…..
Further Frederik Christian Schübeler (1815-1892) who was professor of botany and manager of the Oslo botanical garden at Toyen in Oslo from 1866-92 also noted from northern Norway that
At Maalselvdalens Vicarage (69 deg. 10 min. N), where it also grows very well, it reaches 8 feet (2.5m) and doesn’t only give mature seeds, but spreads even in the garden as a weed.”
I found this difficult to believe and thought initially that it had been confused with good king Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) which can be very weedy in a garden. I only had one plant at the time and I struggled to get more than a couple of seeds from it. Introducing a second plant, suddenly there was a lot of seed and seedlings appeared around the mother plants.
Nowadays it appears in many parts of the cultivated parts of my garden spread by the low friction seeds blowing around on ice in the winter and through my compost. Small plants often turn up as a weed in pot plants indoors which have been fed with compost. This is a plant which germinated in a pot with a bay tree (Laurus nobilis) some years ago. When the bay died, I let the Hablitzia grow on and it now uses the bay as a climbing frame!

Nevertheless, Hablitzia seems to depend on naked earth to establish itself here and there are no reports of it escaping into nature approaching 150 years after its introduction as a garden plant here.
Yesterday, I was weeding Hablitzia from newly emerged carrot seedlings!