Waxwings (sidensvans) have arrived here in numbers with about 70 in the garden today! Most of their favourite berry, rowan (rogn) had gone by the time they arrived due to the large flocks of thrushes that were here a week ago (mainly fieldfares, redwings and blackbirds / gråtrost, rødvingetrost og svarttrost). They had opened up quite a few apples near the tops of the trees before they moved on, and now the waxwings are enjoying them – they luckily don’t try to open other apples, so that there are still many for us! We’ve been harvesting the last few days, but still a lot near the tops of the trees that are difficult to reach even with the apple picker!
I’ve been self-sufficient in fresh vegetables year round and have blogged and lectured about how I can do this even in winter without a greenhouse, without a freezer and without using additional energy apart from my own manual labour :) The most important factor allowing me to do this is the cold cellar under the house where I can store vegetables cold and frost free. None of the common winter leafy green vegetables further south in Europe – kales (grønnkål), chards (mangold) and leek (purre) – can be reliably overwintered outside here, although winters are getting milder. For example, swiss chard is killed by the first hard frosts which due to our northern location last all day (little direct solar warming at this time of year). Usually I’m taken by surprise by hard frosts in early November and there’s a panic digging up vegetables and I often have to use an iron bar to get through the ice layer. Not so this year. Thanks to corona and a very mild first part of November, I’ve had more time for the harvest. Last week I lifted the swedes and turnips and yesterday the parsnips, jerusalem artichokes and carrots. Today, I moved all the swiss chards, celery and chicories (sikkori) to large buckets, planted in soil, ready to move quickly inside later in the week if necessary as colder weather is forecast. In the past I’ve stored these winter vegetables in hand made wooden crates filled with soil. However, after 20 or so winters, they’re no longer usable and I hadn’t got round to making new ones, so I will store in these large plastic buckets, which had been purchased to plant the Allium collection, now with a permanent home at the Ringve botanical garden. I’ve also been digging up perennial vegetables for winter forcing. This includes various onions – Allium senescens, Allium flavescens, Allium angulosum and Allium cernuum. In addition, I’ve dug a udo (Aralia cordata) root and also a few ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and Hosta “Frances Williams” (sieboldiana). Finally, I’ve been digging large amounts of my most important winter vegetable, dandelion! (see my 2018 harvest here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=20124) 19th November: the next morning it snowed (see the video at the bottom)!
Harvested swiss chards including the Lucullus type and perpetual spinach (all Beta vulgaris var cicla):
Due to the really cold May this year, the apple trees (Aroma) tried and tried to flower but seemed to give up. I was surprised nevertheless that some fruit did result and in compensation for the low number of apples, the individual apples were bigger so that the total yield was much better than feared! There were no plums and only a few cherries.
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.
The last 2-3 days I’ve been working hard to harvest and bring in less hardy plants from the garden as it was forecast to be maximum -6C tomorrow, 21st November, the first seriously heavy all day frost! Here’s a tour in pictures of my storage rooms…there are 4 full size rooms in the cellar with concrete floor. In winter, the temperature is typically 2-5C, perfect for storing plants!
..and yes my good intentions to reduce the amount of plants I look after has failed miserably..
211117: Added pictures of other rooms in the house used to overwinter plants
This is how we keep warm up here…harvesting two leeks ;)
I think I’ll wait some days before I attempt to harvest the rest…it’s forecast to be above zero next week with some rain! This is also why I won’t be planting garlic this weekend as planned…
The only reason this is possible at all is that it has been so dry this autumn!
I’ve lost my long crow bar, otherwise I would have used that..
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden