Tendrils: Snowy hedge 2

Hello, and welcome to Tendrils! This week the UK has been in the grip of what used to be called wintry weather, but is now touted as something a lot more apocalyptic. My garden wasn’t in the path of thundersnow, which apparently is a real phenomenon, even if it sound like a character from the latest Marvel superhero flick. It’s so rare these days that we see much of the white stuff that the RHS felt compelled to issue some “Don’t Panic!” advice to gardeners:


The garden seems to be pretty much snow-free again today, anyway, so normal programming can resume. On the Science channel today we have some alarming news for people who like to sunbathe naked in the garden – plants have eyes. The idea that plants can see, in one form or another, is still disputed, so we’ll have to keep our eyes on the science updates over the next few years before we get to the bottom of that one. We do know that plants can smell and hear.

Researchers in Sweden and Spain have used DNA analysis to confirm that farmers in the Canary Islands have cultivated the same types of grain for over a thousand years. That’s one heck of a heritage variety!

In prehistoric time barley was one of the main crops on the island of Gran Canaria. The important grain was stored in caves that the indigenous population had excavated in the lava-based bedrock. The caves were often hidden and located high on steep mountain slopes, in order to protect the valuable harvest.

The original inhabitants of the Canary Islands, the Guanches, used their barley to make Gofio, a staple food made from toasted grains that can be used in a variety of ways. You can still find golfio on offer if you visit the islands.


Suttons free seed tin offer

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If we flip over to the Gardening channel, we’ve got a lovely run down on perennial vegetables from the historic foodie, although (spoiler alert!) it includes some annual veggies. Equally useful and more visually appealing is the ground cover infographic that Mortal Tree has produced. It’s the culmination of a series on the “Top 10 ground covers for food forests”.

A Gardener’s Table has been musing about their first achocha harvest, which was dinky, but stir-fried with eggplants (recipe included). Achocha were a productive crop in my old garden; I’m hoping to reintroduce them here this year.

Mud and Gluts has also been looking back at last year’s unusual harvests, in Strands of gold, green powder, sweet crisps and sticky molasses, with one major success and one crop that… if it’s not careful… will be banished from the garden.

No doubt we can expect a similar report, this time next year, on the jicama that the Secret Garden Club is growing. Jicama (Pachyrrizus erosus) is a tuberous root widely eaten in Mexico. Peeled and sliced to eat raw, they are crisp and crunchy and taste like apple, or water chestnuts. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I have been writing about plant families and crop rotation for The Organic Academy, and jicama is a legume – in the Fabaceae family, with peas and beans.



The Small Harvest Notebook by Emma Cooper

Planning this year’s kitchen garden? Why not focus on diversity, joy and manageable harvests?

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And finally, on the cooking channel, we have a trio of unusual ingredients to feast upon:

The Botanist in the Kitchen has turned her attention to the weird and wonderful (and edible) Buddha’s hand citron, a citrus with a big personality.

Eat the Weeds has some suggestions for Pellitory (Parietaria). The Cucumber Weed has some warnings attached to it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t eat it.

And Eat Weeds has a wintry recipe that will have you heading out to the hedgerows – fancy a cup of beech leaf tea?

Before you put the kettle on, let me just thank you for tuning in to this week’s Tendrils. I’ll be back next week with more exciting plant news and views!




This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.

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