The Dandelion Cycle Tyre: Cycling on Dandelions!

At last, it’s a reality!! Since I heard that Continental were testing the world’s first car tyre with Taraxagum two years ago, I’ve included a picture of the tyre in my talks! I typically tell how dandelions are one of the most important plants on the planet and that you can make a multi-course dinner of different products of the plant (see my book for details) from root crop, salad, dandinoodles to dandichokes, dandelion wine, coffee, tea etc. etc. and I end up by saying that soon you’ll even be able to cycle home on tyres made of dandelion rubber!! I’ll use this picture from now on!!
In the link, it’s mentioned that Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute and University of Münster have helped Continental with the development of the tyre. I was approached by researchers at the university offering me EUR40 for my dandelion seed (that they’d found offered on my Garden Web Internet seed trade list) and, later, asking me to produce as much seed as possible of the rubber dandelion Taraxacum kok-saghyz (more of this story, which has a twist at the end, is told in my book).

The email offering me cash for dandelions can be read here:

(20th April 2005 from a scientist at the University of Münster). I’d asked for other species of dandelion in return as a trade.

“Thanks Stephe for your early reply.

Sorry, we are just at the beginning of our work and therefore we could offer you just some seeds of Taraxacum officinale, but non of the others.
So, what should be the price for the seeds and the postage, around 40€?

list of seeds:
Taraxacum faeroense (02) ;
Taraxacum kok-saghyz (03; 02; 01)6;Rubber Dandelion Taraxacum mongolicum (03; 01 ); Taraxacum officinale (02; 00 ) ;Pissenlit (French cultivated Dandelion) OUT Taraxacum pamiricum (03); Taraxacum sect. erythrosperma (03; 02) ; Taraxacum vulgare album (02) ;

Please let me know to which address we should send the money. Please send the seeds in a safe envelope and it would be nice to have them as early as possible. You can be sure that you will get the money!”

Swamp saxifrage salad

The swamp saxifrage (Micranthes pensylvanica, earlier Saxifraga pensylvanica)  is a very interesting perennial edible for a damp place in the garden. I grow it in damp soil next to my small pond.  It grows over much of northeastern North America in “marshy meadows, mucky seepages in woods, swamp forests, montane bogs and seeps” (Flora of North America). It is recorded as being eaten by the Cherokee people as a salad.
I obtained seed of this in 2003 as its edibility is mentioned in Cornucopia II:  “Young, tender, unrolling leaves can be used in salads, eaten as a potherb or briefly cooked in bacon fat”.  For various reasons I never tried it.
And then I bought Samuel Thayer’s book The Forager’s Harvest (2006) in which he includes this rarely foraged plant, despite it being  quite common over its range! He says that “…the only part of the swamp saxifrage plant that I consider worth eating is the flower stalks”. He considers the boiled young leaves hardly edible, being bitter and tough even when young. However, reading Sam’s account was at the same time that I had started to redo my overgrown pond and adjacent boggy areas. This took several years and it wasn’t until this spring that the swamp saxifrage was big enough again to be harvested!
The verdict: the flower shoots were delicious and crispy raw without a hint of bitterness or toughness. I served them with a simple olive oil and soy sauce dressing. I’d now like to grow a larger area of this! Sam advises against cooking them as this makes them very soft. Incidentally, I didn’t find that the top third of the flowers stalks are less palatable as commented by Thayer.


KVANN på Væres Venner 28. mai 2019

Jeg har nå utvidet KVANNs hage på Væres Venner Felleshagen (Trondheim) og igår plantet opp følgende:
1) Årets virusrensete miniknoller av norske potet: Tysk Blå, Hroar’s Dege, Shetland Black, Gjernes Potet, Kerr’s Pink Blå, Beate, Truls, Ivar, Raude fra Skjåk og Brage
2) Frøplanter av Carolus poteten (true seed); resistent sort
3) Potet under halm (delvis mot kveke): 15 sorter inkl. fjorårets miniknoller
4) Et nytt bed (snudd opp ned for hånd mot kveke) med diverse flerårige kales (flatbladet grønnkål) fra frø: Daubenton x Pentland Brig / Nero di Toscana grex; Pentland Brig (OP), Asturian Tree Kale, Cottager’s Kale (OP) og Daubenton x late purple flowering broccoli (min krysning, OP)

Perennial pakoras

This week, we made pakoras from a selection of perennial veggies from the garden (which ones can you spot?)
Pakoras are made with chick pea (besan) flour! Looking for a source of broad bean (fava) flour as that would I reckon be even tastier and could be produced in Norway!

St. George’s Mushroom: a new edible for The Edible Garden!

I’ve been hoping this species would one day arrive in the garden and a week ago I noticed a small group of St George’s Mushroom (Vårfagerhatt) or Calocybe gambosa emerging right next to where I sit in the garden next to a birch tree and on the edge of what was once a “lawn”. This spring fruiting species has its English name as it usually appears around St. George’s Day, 23rd April, a month later up here in the north!