Christina Løjtnant share her knowledge on relict plants in the village Gl. Lejre

Frøsamlernes (Danish Seed Savers) annual meeting started with a visit to an ecological market garden Gartneri Toftegård south of Copenhagen. Lene Tvedegaard explained with great knowledge about their huge number of chili, pepper, tomato and herb varieties. She told us, how often it happens that the chili and peppers cross pollinate in their large greenhouses. We probably should pay more attention to the fact, that some insects might acquire a taste for the nectar in our chili/pepper flowers, thus crossing them. In a row of large greenhouses like here, the insects are of course much more likely start visiting the flower, than in a garden with just a few plants.
We tasted a lot of tomatoes and chilies, though we had a tight schedule, and we like always had hundreds of questions to ask 🙂 We know how to extract a lot of knowledge in no time from the wise people we visit!

Lene Tvedegaard shows a small physalis with pineapple taste, her favorite. Interesting, as people where I stood was very divided in their opinion. Some were enthusiastic about it, others like myself, prefer other types with different taste. This is also a reason for growing a great number of varieties within the different crops.

Chili and tomato tasting in one of the greenhouses

Allotments in Ishøj

From Toftegård we drove to the allotments in Ishøj. It was exciting to see how much can be grown, when 100 sq.m. is exploited intensive. Ishøj is know for its large immigrant community. The allotments is a cultural melting pot, where people with very diverse cultural heritage meet each others gardening culture. Some are faithful to their origin, others are more curious, letting themselves getting inspired to grow new crops and grow in new ways. The joy of gardening prevail, almost every gardener there seems to share it. Almost, because here like every where some people with good intentions are not able to keep the garden from growing in to weed and wild trees. But in this allotment they are willingly helping if allowed. An old man kept his garden very well, but has fallen ill this summer. Those who can keep his garden for the time being. He probably helped others in need at times.
Anna, who grow one of the gardens, showed us around. She has a great knowledge of the individual gardens and the culture they represents, and could point out where inspiration had crossed garden fences and cultural borders. The quiet cultural exchange.

Typical danish potato garden. Ground is now bare after the potato harvest. Note the strawberries, root beet, leek, celeriac and fruit bushes

Garden with, as far as I remember, afghan roots. Note the large bed with coriander, this amount is not yet consumed by any old danish families. Also beds with tiny leek-like plants – could it be tareh? Anna have tried to ask, but have not been able to communicate with the family, as she and they have no language in common. Tareh is a small leek, grown like chives, cut several times above ground.

In some of the gardens, the useful is less important than the romantic

Sunday we had a relict plant excursion with Christina Løjtnant (Top photo). She know her plants, and willingly went in to our discussions on how old history a plant should have before we can call them relicts, and when is it really a relict from former cultivation, not the same species escaped a garden in recent times. She explained, that it is not the individual plant that proves to be a relict, but the pattern in which you find formerly cultivated plants around ancient churches, villages, monasteries and other places with traces of intense human activities. She pointed to the fields and meadows – out there relict plants are very rare, only found as single plants, not in populations like in this old village.
Common Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), formerly a classical relict plant, has for some unknown reason transformed from a relict plant surviving around old castles to an invasive species, no more restricted to specific areas where it was originally introduced.

The relict plant excursion ended at the old kongsgård in Gl. Lejre

More photos from the annual meeting