loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo
Alas, I wish I could give a better report of this perennial root vegetable, but in three years of growing it, I have only been able to harvest one tiny tuber. For a really useful write-up of this veggie, check out this post at Homegrown Evolution. I guess my post should be taken as a checklist of how *not* to grow Chinese artichokes!

The spot they're growing in is in part shade. We have very heavy clay soil, and I sheet-mulched the heck out of it three years ago when I first planted stuff in that bed, but I think the native clay has succeeded in incorporating most of the mulch by now without much change in its essential clay-ness. We had a bad summer of drought this year. I figured that after 24 hours of rain, the ground might be soft enough now to dig, but getting the fork in there was like trying to ram it into concrete. So, dried-out clay = a big no-no for S. affinis. People who grow it in sandy soil or on pond margins report it as being downright invasive. My plant only expanded to a 2 sq ft patch in three years.

The one tiny tuber was harvested accidentally this spring while I was weeding in that bed. It popped right out, so I washed it off and ate it. Other people have described them as sweet, nutty, or minty -- I would have to describe that tuber as bland. Seriously, it was like water. I thought maybe they would have more flavor by this fall... but fall is here, and there are no tubers! I can't find a one.

Wish me better luck with my Jerusalem artichokes. This is my first year growing those -- the plants look huge and healthy, but who knows what's going on below....
purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
[personal profile] purpletigron
I first encountered this self-seeding ('multiplier') biennial allium through the Heritage Seed Library of the HDRA - now known also as Garden Organic: http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/

Babington's leek

You can read more about the Allium ampeloprasum babbingtonii in the excellent Plants for a Future database, which has extensive information about thousands of useful plants which can thrive in temperate climates such as the UK.

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Allium+ampeloprasum+babbingtonii

Alliums are said to be good companion plants to fruit trees, Solanaceae ('nightshades' - tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.), brassicas and carrots (e.g. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants). However, I do not yet have much personal experience of these claims regarding Babington's leek.
loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo
This book is like a charming, light-hearted companion to Toensmeier & Jacke's much more hardcore Edible Forest Gardens. It should be of great interest to food geeks as well as plant geeks; I come from a whole family of obsessive foodies and there were a lot of things in here I'd never heard of before. It makes a nice coffee table book, too -- nearly every page has full-color photos.

Just about the only perennial vegetables grown in most American gardens are asparagus and rhubarb, with artichokes, sunchokes, and sorrel trailing way behind. But this book has a hundred more! There are edible plants here for every site -- sun, shade, bogs, deserts, you name it. They were selected based on taste and productivity, with the only requirement being that they're suitable for growing *somewhere* in the United States, even if that somewhere is just a couple square miles of upland Hawaii (a real example -- the basul tree bean).

I was expecting to find crops from Asia and South America that I wasn't familiar with, but what really surprised me were all the traditional European vegetables I'd never heard of before -- vegetables like skirret, sea kale, and Good King Henry, all of which became minor culinary footnotes after the introduction of all those shiny new veggies from the Americas.

I have yet to try growing or eating anything from this book (besides the usual suspects like asparagus, etc.). I actually have pokeweed growing wild all over my property, but since that one's toxic unless you cook it in a couple of changes of water, I haven't worked up the nerve yet. Oh, wait, actually I did plant Chinese artichokes last year (Stachys affinis)... they'll be ready to harvest this fall. I'll let you know how they turn out!

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Permaculture: Food From Sustainable Landscapes

November 2012

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