Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) has self-sowed numerous times in my garden but only up to now on cultivated beds with naked soil. Now for the first time I noticed one had popped up in dry soil under my two oldest Norway spruce trees (Picea abies; gran) which are probably in their 80s. There are a number of Hablitzia plants in a bed about 8m above this site (I believe that the shiny seeds of Hablitzia can disperse by falling on icy snow and are blown by the wind). This is an area which had been invaded by hedge mustard / løkurt (Alliaria petiolata). I’ve been systematically removing this plant from this area and other parts of the garden where it was rapidly taking over. Incidentally, another climber, Bryonia alba, appeared in the same location in 2010, but died after a few years (last picture). It wil be interesting to see if this plant manages to establish here. No, I don’t think Hablitzia has the potential to be invasive!
Last year’s birthday dinner was the Around the World in 80 Mac-Cheese, this year’s green mac-cheese contained 68 Hablitzia shoots, 68 ramsons (ramsløk) leaves, 68 ground elder (skvallerkål) leaves and 68 stinging nettle (brennesle) shoots, with opium poppy seeds and nutty alpine bistort (harerug) bulbils on top! The video shows me collecting the Hablitzia shoots!
I’ve been growing Hablitzia tamnoides, affectionately known as Habbies, for over 20 years and this is the first registered mortality. On a shallow bed under a birch tree, plants lift during winter as if to walk off to take over the world (OK, probably just frost heave as also happens with parsnip roots), and one of them is now no more, a dead Norwegian habby :(
Here’s a few more that are going the same way of I don’t rescue them:
…and below is a nice little edible community where both self-sowed Siberian hogweed (Heracleum sibiricum) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) are growing happily in company with Hablitzia tamnoides!
Yesterday, I was preparing my talk for the Finnish Permaculture Association (see https://youtube.com/live/CYBqioWTr6U) and was reminded that I had mentioned in my book that Hablitzia could be used in place of spinach in Finnish spinach pancakes (pinaattiohukaiset). With my Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach; köynnöspinaatit) shoots having grown well recently, I decided to make these Finnish-style habby pancakes for lunch to get in the mood for the talk. I must admit, I didn’t look up a recipe and just improvised (recipes make cooking complicated in my mind!) using ingredients I felt should be in there. Apart from plentiful Hablitzia shoots I mixed in whole grain oat flour, eggs, garlic, chili and pepper and fried them in butter. It was served with a salad which also included Hablitzia! First, the quotation from Around the World in 80 plants (suggested by Jonathan Bates in the US in his article on Hablitzia):
Wild Enoki, Oca, Hablitzia, wild buckwheat sprouts, Allium nutans with dandelion, garlic chilis mixed with scrambled eggs for a delicious home grown and foraged lunch! Enoki is one of the hardiest fungi appearing often midwinter in mild winters. Also known as velvet shank (vintersopp in Norwegian, meaning winter fungus; Flammulina velutipes). Many had been reporting finding this species recently, and I too found some when I visited the botanical garden the other day! It’s difficult to believe that this is the same fungi as Enokitake or Enoki, sometimes offered in supermarkets and one of the most popular cultivated fungi in the Far East. The cultivated fungi are long and white as they are grown in the dark in an enriched CO2 environment which gives longer stalks.
I was showing a journalist around the winter edible garden and cellar this morning and dug up some nodding (Chicago) onions (Allium cernuum) and picked a few Hablitzia shoots, so why not turn it into lunch! I sliced an oca (Oxalis tuberosa) in with the vegetables. Scambled Habby Chicago eggs is simple gourmet midwinter food from garden to table in no time!
The best of vegetables ready to harvest this week: blanched sea kale (Crambe maritima), blanched lovage (Levisticum officinale) and nettles (Urtica dioica)! Delicious.
IT’S DANDINOODLE TIME HERE IN MALVIK: one of the year’s many highlights!
This is by far my earliest dandelion to come into growth in March. It was sent to me as seed from the Alps in Switzerland, following a talk I gave there and was supposed to be similar to the moss-leaved dandelion but the leaves weren’t similar at all. These are from one plant! I’m trying to fine out which species it is…
3. Allium paradoxum var paradoxum isn’t a plant you’ll want in your garden as this form has bulbils which can spread invasively. I was sent this 20 years ago from a garden in Sweden as Allium triquetrum but it wasn’t that one. I never considered either of these invasive Alliums as hardy enough to be a problem here and this one has slowly colonised the space around my oldest Hablitzia tamnoides. With warmer winters I have started more aggressive harvesting of this one.I now harvest both the young leaves, the tops, in particular the bulbils to keep it under control. They are delicious both raw in mixed salads and cooked.
I’m in Habby Blitz (bliss) once again and Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / Stjernemelde / Nordens spinat) is the most important vegetable once again. With some 30 plants (and increasing) there¨’s more than enough to harvest. Here’s a few pictures from an area on very shallow soil (10-20cm) under the shade of a large birch tree where it thrives. And it’s now 20 years since I planted my first!
The greens that went into last night’s wholegrain spelt quiche are listed below the picture! CELLAR: Dystaenia takesimana shoots; Forced hogweed (bjørnekjeks) shoots (Heracleum spp.); Forced Taraxacum (dandelion / løvetann); nederst til høyre: Witloof chicory (sikkori); øverst til høyre: swiss chard (mangold) GARDEN: Various hybrid onions (Allium senescens x nutans) and Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)
Various Allium species are the hardiest of edible plants either staying green all winter (e.g., Allium cernuum and Allium carinatum) or sprouting very early and able to withstand some frost. With a minimum forecast of -6C tomorrow after a very mild March, it will be interesting to see whether any of these early shooters are damaged. Here are a selection of pictures of Alliums and other early spring shoots in this weeks snow.
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden