Yesterday was my birthday and the best presents were all unintended as birthday presents: 1. Allium victorialis from a large stand that has naturalised from a farm garden in Nordland county, Norway to be offered to various members of KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) when I get time (From Inger Elvebakk, who also took the picture):
2. A new sea kale / strandkål (Crambe maritima) accession from a KVANN member, from a wild population
3. Decorah Posten took over a month to get here, but it arrived too on my birthday (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decorah_Posten); more about this another time!
Since New Year, only one day had been slightly above zero with temperatures regularly below -15C, but then a big shift in the weather happened a few days ago and it’s now 25C warmer than it was a week ago! It’s interesting to see how hardy some Alliums are, even when not insulated by snow and here are 3 of the most hardy: Allium carinatum (keeled garlic / rosenløk), Allium flavum (small yellow onion / doggløk) and Allium cernuum (nodding onion /prærieløk) can all be harvested even though the soil is frozen solid. Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) shoots are also developing nicely and I’ll have a few for lunch today along with the onions.
There are Allium species that can be harvested year round in the garden, notably nodding onion / Norw:prærieløk (Allium cernuum) which I’ve blogged about before. In autumn, new shoots of Allium carinatum subsp. pulchellum (keeled garlic / Norw: rosenløk) appear and with the mild weather we’ve been experiencing they’ve already reached about 20 cm high. They are hardy and can survive to at least -20C. It’s now in the autumn that this edimental Allium is most useful. I use the shoots in a similar way to chives (Allium schoenoprasum), which died back some time ago and won’t reappear until spring (unless I force them indoors), in salads, cut and sprinkled on sandwiches, in scrambled egg, quiches etc. I use them from October to April.
There are two colour forms, pink and white which are particularly valuable as they last such a long time and are popular with pollinators:
There are also forms with bulbils which can be a bit invasive:
You’ll see the flowers used as a tasty decoration in my multi-species salads (bottom right in the picture):
Allium carinatum is also popular with pollinators:
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!
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.
19th June 2020: Video update from the Allium (Chicago) garden at the NTNU Ringve Botanical Gardens in Trondheim. The heat wave has brought many species into flower and the garden’s looking great! The official opening of the garden, planned for August, has been postponed to 2021. We are working on plant signs which will hopefully be added later in the summer. The garden currently contains some 300 accessions including around 100 Allium species and many old Norwegian onions collected over several years from all over the country and funded by Norsk Genressurssenteret and Landbruksdirektoratet. The signs for the garden are in part funded through a gift from Skjærgaarden (https://www.skjaergaarden.no) to KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) who have decided to use the gift at Ringve (see https://www.facebook.com/skjaergaarden.no/videos/2972781459487864)
I have a feeling that no one else had this pizza last night! SO/TR? Sherpa Onion/Turkish Rocket of course, better known (to the botanist) as AW/BO or Allium wallichii/Bunias orientalis two of my June perennial vegetables, the young shoots of the onion (one of the latest Alliums to show it’s still alive in the spring) and the delicious broccolis of Turkish rocket. We turned it into pizza as we were making Danish sourdough rye bread (using the 24 hour bake at 70C method) and had made extra dough.
Last night we made a green pea soup and apart from the Hablitzia (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde), I used perennial vegetables growing in a wild part of the garden. With little or no help from me there’s a bounty of wild edibles in this area under wild hazels (Corylus avellana) and this made for a delicious pea soup with masses of greens. Campanula latifolia is documented as used in spring soups in the 16th century in my area in Norway and Heracleum shoots are also a tradional soup ingredient, in particular Russian borsch now thought of as a beetroot soup was originally made with hogweed shoots.
To celebrate my 65th we made indian pakora with 65 (or so) different perennial vegetables. Going for a new title, this time EPM (Extreme Pakora Man)! Any better? The whole list is under the pictures! Just wish I’d had broad / fava bean (bondebønner) flour available for the pakoras rather than gram flour (chick peas)…next time I hope :)