Tendrils: Self-seeded borage

Tendrils has once again been reeling in the heat, and is stocking up on cold drinks and ice cream in case it comes back. Ice cream contains (apparently) surprising botany, plants that feature in the ingredients but are never headlined on the label, including carob.

Earlier in the year Tendrils lived through the great lettuce shortage of 2017 (an event that probably won’t go down in the history books), but I’ve just come across an article that suggests that humans weren’t the most-affected species. The Independent showed us how the lettuce crisis hit those who love it most. Which, apparently, is British sea turtles.

It’s potatoes that are making the headlines at the moment, with suggestions that potato cultivation began in Utah. The link is to an interesting article that’s more about people who have been nurturing wild potatoes in Utah for many years, to conserve tham, than it is about paleoethnobotany. The Telegraph brings us into the 18th century with a profile of Eva Ekeblad, a Swedish noble who discovered how to extract starch from potatoes and paved the way for gluten-free baking, vodka, moonshine and potato wine. And for modern potato growers, Cultivariable has the low-down on what you should know about fruits on your potato plants.



For Lubera I have been writing about Mahonia, an unusual edible berry that many people spotted in the RHS Kitchen Garden at the Hampton Court show this year. It wasn’t the only garden that took people outside of their horticultural comfort zone, but as Patrick Barkham said in the Guardian,

Gardening can be a progressive act, or a regressive or even oppressive one. But, whether we like it or not, it is deeply political – and it always has been.

Researchers are experimenting on growing plants in Martian soil (well, in Earthly approximations of Martian soil), and their latest report is on how earthworms manage in Martian soil (better than the plants, so far, I think!). I’m not entirely sure about figure 2 on that link though – it says ‘sand worm’ and looks like something out of Dune….



Recently published research reviewed the various actions individuals can take to reduce their contribution to climate change. There’s a nice infographic which sums up the results at sciencebyericholthaus. It shows that the things that we’re pretty good at – changing lightbulbs, turning down thermostats and drying laundry outside – have a very small impact compared to the things we’d rather not do: give up cars, give up flying, go vegetarian and have fewer kids. Which is not to say we shouldn’t be doing the easy things; we just need to be talking about how we (as a species) are going to tackle the larger issues. And while we’re on the subject of climate change, the New York Times has an interactive quiz asking how much do you know about solving global warming?

We’re not likely to get picnic weather this weekend, but I’ll wrap up some food for you to take away, just in case. How about some moreish crunchy,smoky, tangy red peppers of Italy’s far south, a surprising recipe for strawberry chicken and some homegrown cocktails? If that’s not enough then you can look up your own recipes, in the Cookbooks and Home Economics Collection housed in the Internet Archive. That should keep you going until the next edition of Tendrils has germinated!

Have a good weekend, everybody 🙂

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