As we approach midsummer many of my perennial vegetables are beginning to flower and from spring leaves and shoots we are now in the flower bud, scape (flower stem) and broccoli stage. Many stronger tasting plants have much milder upperparts than the earlier growth. This is presumably because the plants transfer their energy from insect defence to seed production.
Not something I can make very often as I don’t find fasciated dandelions very often! A simple salad was put together, made fascinating with a fasciated dandelion. The blanched udo (Aralia cordata) was ready: I harvested some blanched sea kale (Crambe maritima) too and I found a fasciated dandelion to decorate the salad The udo was peeled
…and the salad was put together with the fasciated dandelion flower stem cut into strips and mixed in with a sesame oil – soya sauce dressing:
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!
Last night’s greens included all my 16 Hostas, Allium scorodoprasum (sand leek / bendelløk) scapes; broccolis from sea kale (strandkål), ornamental sea kale (Crambe cordifolia) and Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis); and flower buds of two daylilies Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus and Hemerocallis dumortieri!
13th June 2020 perennial greens were stir-fried and served with quinoa and served with Allium ursinum flowers. Allium validum (swamp or Pacific onion) with flower shoot Saxifraga pensylvanica (swamp saxifrage) Gunnera tinctoria Asparagus officinalis (asparges) Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål broccolis) Perennial kale “Walsall Allotments” (flerårig kål) Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke) Aster macrophyllus (big-leaf aster) flowering shoots of various Russian Rumex acetosa cultivars (sorrel / engsyre)
The greens were stir-fried with chili and garlic and served with Norwegian organic quinoa with ramsons (ramsløk) flowers:
Presenting yesterdays greens used on a veggie 100% whole grain barley/spelt/rye sourdough pizza were: Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach /stjernemelde) (eaten now every day since the beginning of March and there’s more to harvest now than at any time since I started!) Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål) Allium ursinum (ramsons / ramsløk) Levisticum officinale (lovage / løpstikke) (I call blanched lovage “spring celery” as it’s not that much stronger than celery…and much easier to grow than celery organically) Ligularia fischeri (Gomchwi; Fischer’s Ligularia / Koreansk nøkketunge) (King of the Sannamul: see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=3114) Rumex patientia (Patience dock / Hagesyre) Bistorta officinalis (Bistort / Ormerot)
Half an hour “foraging” in the garden and half an hour in the kitchen and I can present the year’s first multi-species salad….54 different plants! Notable additions were dark-leaved sea kale (strandkål) and Hydrophyllum virginianum (at the bottom), moss-leaved dandelion and Hablitzia tamnoides (centre). Edible flowers included two begonias and Oxalis triangularis (grown inside) and the first oxlips and hybrids (hagenøkleblom)
Somebody asked me the other day if I use floating mulch (fiberduk / agryl) to be able to harvest all these greens so early. No, no and again no….this is one of the biggest benefits of perennial vegetables….it is totally natural, no microplastics are released into the environment, no oil is needed to plough the fields, significantly less migrant labour is needed and little or no fertiliser and water is needed, it is almost totally free once established and can yield year after year! So, whilst large areas of farmland in the northern hemisphere are being covered by plastic mulches to bring on annual crops for the market earlier, I’d just like to point out that there’s an alternative better way! So, here are the plants that I harvested for yesterday’s delicious green pasta sauce: Armoracia rusticana shoots (horseradish / pepperrot) Myrrhis odorata (sweet cicely / spansk kjørvel) Houttuynia cordata “Chinese Market” (shoots and rhizomes from the cellar; this cultivar is significantly larger than other Houttuynia I’ve grown) (Fish herb, Himalayan water creeper) Allium senescens x nutans (hybrid Siberian onions) Laurus nobilis (bay / laurbær) Brassica oleracea (perennial kales) Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål) Taraxacum officinale (dandelion / løvetann) Allium x proliferum (walking onion / luftløk) Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) Dystaenia takesimana (giant Ulleung celery, seombadi) Oenanthe javanica (seri) Polymnia edulis (yacon) (second picture) plus garlic and chili
Sea kale Crambe maritima is sometimes referred to as the King of the Vegetables (Queen is perhaps more fitting!) . This is partly due to the fact that it was in the past cultivated in heated greenhouses for nobility in the UK for Christmas! Maybe not the King, it is certainly an aristocrat and the easiest perennial brassica in cold climates (along wtih even hardier Crambe cordifolia) as it is hardier than perennial kales as it resprouts from the roots every spring and can easily be covered by a mulch of leaves or suchlike in colder climates. I do this every autumn just in case we have a very cold winter (I have experienced plants to resprout from deep roots when the surface roots have been killed in winter). I would normally take off the leaf mulch early April, but this winter it’s been so mild I removed it a few days ago and the plant had already put out delicious sprouts…I’ve been snacking on them! My oldest sea kale is approaching 40 years old, but hasn’t appeared yet (oldies sleep longer I guess!). Much more about Sea Kale in my book Around the World in 80 plants or by searching here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=sea+kale
They are also beautiful. The pictures show the cultivar Lily White which is only about 8 years old.
My youngest seakale Crambe maritima “Lily White” which isn’t that young longer (17 years old), is in full flower a couple of weeks earlier than my other plants and its looking better than ever this year! In the winter, I dug a trench along the “ex-driveway”, now path to the house, to stop tree roots invading and drying up the shallow soiled beds in this part of the garden.
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden