Welcome to Tendrils! This is your weekly round-up of plant-related internet goodness, published in time for a weekend of delightful reading. We saw our first daffodils this week, growing outside the local garden centre. This isn’t one of them – I haven’t been snapping photos for the past few days, so it’s one from the archives. A Welsh daffodil, no less, from April 2013.

NPR are encouraging us to look into the science and history of popcorn, which was domesticated thousands of years before other varieties of corn – that were good for flour or eating fresh – were developed:

Corn’s ancient relative, Teosinte, is one of the crop wild relatives in a piece from Business Insider UK, which takes a fascinating look at what fruits and vegetables looked like before we domesticated them. It mentions genetic modification at the top of the piece, but what it’s talking about is the long history of selective breeding, where humans gradually develop new varieties by encouraging the growth of plants that naturally developed a certain genetic mutation, or by breeding two plants (from the same species, or closely related species) together and choosing the offspring that show the desired mix of their parents’ characteristics. For my money, modern genetic modification that happens in the lab is a different process, and suggesting that we’ve been tinkering with genetics for millennia is a little disingenuous. Anyway…, it’s interesting to see what raw materials early human farmers had to work with, and what they managed to achieve.

Last week’s Tendrils was tea-themed, so we won’t go there too much this week, but I did want to share a post I found which encourages you to effleurage your tea!, or in other words – make exquisite herbal infusions, including DIY jasmine tea. First, grow your own jasmine, something I have been intending to do for a number of years.

And Silver Mushroom have a collection of tea ‘recipes’ from around the world, including bubble tea and Tibetan butter tea – their recipe seems a little more manageable than the one I followed when I made my first foray into Tibetan butter tea, about this time last year!

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Nigel Slater apparently “can’t get enough of their curious flavour” – clearly he doesn’t grow his own, as Jerusalem artichokes are a prolific crop 🙂 If you’re a little tired of Jerusalem artichoke soup, then his Jerusalem artichoke recipes will provide some much-needed inspiration as we eat our way through our stored tubers. One of them even involves this year’s ‘must have’ ‘superfood’: black pudding! Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) aren’t that easy to come by unless you grow your own; my article on the topic is persistently one of the most popular on the blog.

The preponderance of root and tuber crops means, of course, that we’re approaching the Hungry Gap – the period of the year in which stored veggies are starting to run out, and we’ve started sowing and planting for this year but there’s nothing much growing in the garden (a problem that is conveniently solved by growing more perennial vegetables, which get started earlier in the year). Those of us who are lucky enough to have a greenhouse may have some overwintered greens for a fresh splash of green and new harvests early in the season.

Of course, mushrooms grow in the dark and don’t really care what season it is, so there’s always cream of mushroom soup 🙂

If you don’t have a greenhouse then one of the earliest greens you can harvest is a perennial climbing plant called Hablitzia tamnoides. It’s so rarely grown and consumed that, although it has a variety of ‘common’ names, none of them is especially common. If you’d like to grow it then Incredible Vegetables have instructions, although you may have to wait a while for them to have it in stock – it’s not the easiest plant to source. Stephen Barstow is the expert on Hablitzia, and that link will download a PDF version of an article he wrote on this plant for Permaculture Magazine a few years ago. Stephen is one of the many plant lovers you can meet in Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs.

Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs Valentine gift

That’s it for this week, folks! Don’t forget that if you’ve found a botanical treasure on the internet (or written one of your own!) then you can leave the link in the comments for anyone who has read through all of this week’s homework and is still bored. The only cure for that, of course, would be going outside and doing some gardening! 🙂