Hello! And welcome to this week’s Tendrils, your indispensable guide to gardening and plant goodness on the internet. If you haven’t had enough Emma in your life lately, then you can find an interview with me on the Green Gardener website, where I talk about unusual edibles, composting and why my garden is my sanctuary, and I get a mention in a Nemasys article on the Do’s and Don’ts of greenhouse growing.
“Each field of medieval grains would have had evolved in the truest Darwinian sense to reflect its particular location. In our modern artisanal-food diction, medieval landraces had true terroir.”
Crop plants would have looked (and tasted) very different in the Middle Ages. Survival and Adaptation: Bonnefont’s Corne Field. The Met Museum in New York has planted up a bed of Medieval grains (to accompany their Medieval salads and Medieval vegetables) – a corne field – and it makes me want to hop on a plane and see for myself how it turned out. (But I won’t, because that would be bad for the planet.)
And the Kew Science team have been taking another look into the history of crop plants, and their future, in taming the savage cabbage:
“Selection by farmers, gardeners and breeders over many centuries has produced leafy crops of all shapes, colours and sizes (cabbages, kales, collards); variants in flower development (broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, broccoflower); enlarged side buds (Brussels sprouts); and enlarged stems (kohlrabi).”
I’m quite glad those ancient farmers put in the necessary breeding work to tame the cabbage, because although I could happily give cabbage and kale a miss (yes, I know, they’re wonderful, I don’t know what I’m missing, etc, etc…), I do love a nice sprouting broccoli. I’m also trying to crack flowerspouts in the garden this year (and yes, I know, they’re like mini kale).
Meanwhile, Bob Flowerdew has been growing Apios, hopniss, a forgotten gem, although not entirely forgotten – Radix has been trying to tell us that happiness is a root called Hopniss for years now. It’s definitely a plant I want to add to my garden, although I’m still waiting for someone to invent something that turns my garden into a plant Tardis – much bigger inside than it looks from the outside. And self-watering.
Gary Nabhan would no doubt agree that Hopniss is a marvellous plant, but it doesn’t make it onto his list of
20 Native North American Foods with Stories to Tell. Interestingly I do have one of them in the garden this year – my Georgia Candy Rooster Squash, of which I now have two viable plants, although whether they are large enough to crop before the end of the season remains to be seen.
Staying with history, Hidden Garden tells a botanical story of slavery and survival, and the New York Times tells the tale of a space-age food product cultivated by the Incas. They were canny folk, those Incas, and were also ahead of their time by cultivating Yacón, the underground pear, which is also finding belated favour in the 21st century.
Speaking of which, did you know that coffee fruit is Nature’s wasted superfood?
And we’ll finish up today with a potato salad recipe that will be useful to you if you ever spend spring in Nepal 🙂 Bauhinia and Potato Salad (Koirala ko Phool re Aloo ko Achaar) uses the edible flowers and un-opened buds of the Bauhinia tree. These popular spring flowers are integral part of Nepali cuisine, consumed for centuries. That sounds pretty, but CABI call Bauhinia variegata (Mountain Ebony) an invasive species, so it is perhaps best appreciated from afar 🙂
That’s it for Tendrils this week! Enjoy your weekend and I’ll back with plenty more planty goodness next week.