Frost on leaves of greater celandine, Chelidonium majus

Yesterday there was again frost in the morning. I hope it’s over for now until October.
I found these ice crystals to be incredibly long and beautiful. I also noticed that the crystals grew differently depending on the plant species. On a feverfew right next to the the greater celandine, crystals were all tiny.

Freshly picked ramsons, Allium ursinum

Almost every year I pick ramsons in the wood and pickle them in salt, as I learned Siberia. They use a different species, alpine leek (Allium victorialis), but I know that in the European part of Russia they like to use ramsons, and the result is hard to tell apart.

Chopped ramsons

When picking ramsons, take only the leaves, so the bulb can survive. In Siberia, where people forage in the deep forest, they are most particular about only taking the leaves, leaving the onion, and only some of the leaves, to let the plants grow on, and tolerate another picking the following year.

First I chop the leaves, then I weigh them, and add 2-4 grams of salt per 100 grams of ramsons.

I use a tool or my hands

The chopped and salted ramsons will now be squeezed, so that the cell walls are broken apart and the juice becomes visible. I started out using a wooden pounder, but it came to my mind that I always end up using my hands. It’s faster, easier and more comfortable by hand, but I could not take a photo at the same time. After this process, the leaves have become quite dark and covered with its juice.

Salted ramsons packed airtight

As with sauerkraut, the ramsons must be packed airtight. I used a zipper-lock plastic bag and apparently it worked great. There was less residual air left than when I pack in glass. But the very next day I had to recognize that plastic bags are not aroma proof. The whole fridge smelled intensely of ramsons, even on entering the house you could notice the smell of ramsons.

Cheremsha – salted ramsons in small glasses

The solution was to pack the salted ramsons in small roe glasses. Now they can be stored in the refrigerator without any leak of aroma.

I call the result for Cheremsha (Черемша in Russian), as they name it in Siberia. The aroma is even stronger than in the fresh ramsons, so a little goes a long way. The intense chemical sense on opening a glass should not upset you, as it is how it should be. Once it gets mixed with sour cream or other ingredients, the wonderful flavour comes out, a true delicacy. Cheremsha is also used in meatballs and other recipes with minced meat.
I think the salt pickling process enhance the umami component in the taste of ramsons.

Where I pick my ramsons?
It’s a secret, but I can reveal, that they are very common in woods around Copenhagen – just keep off my little spot of ramsons 😉

Here’s a YouTube from Khabarovsk in Siberia (jump 2½ minutes ahead):

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Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

This angelica germinated this winter where a seed was spilled. I am impressed with the growth rate and that it doesn’t need more heat. Last week I placed a large pot over it, to bleach the leaves. It makes them tender and delicious.

A large leaf stem made its way into the wok with Thai-mint, scallops and salmon. Angelica was the stand-in for galangal, with its distinctive perfumed flavour. A smaller stalk sliced ​​thinly and dressed with lemon juice and canola oil made a tasty side-dish.

Formerly I used angelica without bleaching it. It has been fine steeped in vodka. But otherwise it was a tough diet for my tongue. I had given up eating angelica. But with the experience of bleached leaves, I’m ready to eat angelica again.

Perhaps I should sow a little row in autumn with very fresh seed. Then I can again have fresh angelica in May next year.

Bleached angelica after harvest

I left two leaves – will the plant grow again, take another bleaching later this summer to be harvested again?

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Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

White crystals on grass and herbs early this morning. Isn’t it beautiful!
And yet, I do hope this will be last week with frost at night.

I don’t expect any damage, as I didn’t sow any very tender things yet.
But the open peach flowers might suffer, and fail to set fruits.

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Demonstration for free seeds in Brussels

Palm Sunday and the following Monday I was along with other seed savers in Brussel. We took part in Sunday’s and Monday’s demonstration and seed sharing.

The days were arranged in the network www.seed-sovereignty.org

Never have I seen so many seeds being shared in a single day

Sunday was a cornucopia of seeds. There were free seeds to everybody. It was great to experience the warm generosity among people. The event was open to all, being a good opportunity to fill empty seed bags.

Personally, I was so overwhelmed that I hardly didn’t take any seeds. I mostly just got the seeds kind people put in my hand, as they said things like “these will be perfect for you”. Thank you, I’m sure they will.
One interesting portion seeds, however, I rejected. It was a Belgian “Princess” bean, which looked like our old Danish Princess Bean a lot. So much that I’m sure the two would be mixed up if I started sharing the Belgian with Danish seed savers. It could end up with the loss of the old Danish princess bean.
The Belgian did look as a good and exciting bean – I hope my rejection is understood.

Belgian Kokopelli, Ariane

Most of us from Denmark stayed with Ariane, Marc and their 3 boys. They were incredibly hospitable – thank you. It gave an insight into the lives of an ordinary family in Belgium.

Ariane is active in the Belgian branch of Kokopelli, an association with origins in France, which has branches in many countries. Kokopelli challenge EU seeds directive by selling seeds via their website. Nice that some take a stand, breaking a way to make changes to the directive. There must not only be room for the industrial cultivars, but also be room for the wide variety of other cultivars, and room for small players in the market who might just do a little seed in their own fields, to sell through their website. Small sale should be legal. It would undoubtedly be an inexpensive way to preserve the old varieties. Maybe with a remark that they are not included in EU variety list, so we as consumers know what we are buying and not buying. Some consumers will no doubt see it as a sign of quality, if a variety is not listed in the catalog – personally I will not go that far. But I can not see how the variety list meet the need of ordinary gardeners. We private gardeners have different needs from farmers and commercial vegetable growers, and there is nothing wrong in this. We prefer a long harvest period, and many old varieties meet our needs.

Steph and Patrick, Amsterdam

It was a wonderful mixture of people present. Activists, mountain farmers, seed savers, garden bloggers, scientists, and … well, I can not remember all. There were mainly people I did not know, but I also met people I know from the blogosphaere, like Steph and Patrick from Bifurcated Carrots, people I have swapped seeds with like Lieven David from de lusthofin Belgium.

Demonstration for free seeds

The demonstration was colorful and happy. Click on the image, you can see more pictures on my Flickr photo page.

Banner in Portuguese

It was a pleasure to hear (and read) many languages.

Support the free seeds (click), sign the petition

Read what Patrick writes

Garlic (Allium sativum) Estonian Red (Estisk rød) stored under the eaves since harvest

I have always kept my garlics at room temperature after they were harvested and dried out. It works fine for me. Now I’ve seen that garlic can be stored under very different circumstances with equally good results. Ida and Finn on Zealand has successfully retained their garlic under the eaves all winter.

It is said that garlic sprouts particularly rapidly at temperatures between 4C and 10C, and root sprouts at high humidity. And I think it is true, just perhaps a little more complex.
Maybe garlic is sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity in the air, so it inhibits sprouting. If garlic was beneath the earth where it makes sense to sprout, conditions would be much more stable. A garlic in nature ending up on a stone, has a better chance to survive if the sprouting process may be delayed until wind, water or an animal relocate it onto some soil. This is of course pure speculation, but without the speculation we do not get ideas for new practice we can try out.

Root end swelling on garlic

The bulbs are large, I have not seen any garlic clone growing larger in Denmark than Estonian red. In the picture you can see how the root end of the cloves have swelled due to roots preparing to grow out, although slowly. Ida says that there are tiny green sprouts in the cloves a this point. At this time of year the quality compares store bought garlic. Throughout autumn and winter the quality is superior. Home grown garlic tastes great! Eating raw garlic this becomes very clear.

Garlic Estonian Red (Estisk rød)

Estonian Red has few but very large cloves easy to peel. No wonder it is popular among those who have tried it in Danish kitchen gardens.

Pot Maker – my new toy

Last summer I was presented a pot maker, a small tool for paper pot making. I didn’t use it until now, but came to love by first paper pot finished. No more hurling around in our house and garden looking for small pots, used beakers and the like. Now I only have to find the little pot maker and an old newspaper.

How I use my little pot maker

I start finding a newspaper section, preferably without glue in the folding, and cut it in three slices. Now I have a lot of paper strips in the right size. Then I fold a little top border, and roll it around the pin. I can do it quicker along the edge of the kitchen table. Press the surplus paper under the bottom, place it in the saucer and rock it gently to lock the bottom of the pot. Now the difficult part, to slide the new paper pot off the pin. I do it by pushing gently from top of the pin.
Now it speeds up, and a collecting tray is most convenient.

Sweet pepper in the new paper pots

All pots came in use at once for my small sweet pepper plants. Now they live in a warn out wash tub.

All this happened on april 2. —–time is running 🙂

Shallot “Læsøstammen” and chickpea “Assyriska bruna kikärter från Besvirino byn” (right)

Today I sowed the first seeds outdoor, and set the shallots. They are both impatient to go into the soil. If waiting much longer, the shallots will grow smaller, end the chickpeas will mould in their pods. But the soil get depressed (compressed) by me trotting on it. Soil is winter wet, behaving like pot-makers clay if I work it. Then become too hard for roots or worms to penetrate. Thus I’m very cautious when working in the garden in march. I dare not dig, just scratch a little, barely enough to get down the shallot sets and chickpea seeds.

On Læsøstammen shallot I know it was grown on the little isolated island Læsø in 1946. At that time the shallot producers started to gather all shallots from grower, and mix them, before selling or replanting. Only Læsø was not part of that, because of the transport expenses. It has been grown by three generations of farmers on the island since then.

Kroghs skalotteløg” is another shallot I set today. All was set, no left for the photo.

Chickpeas are easy to grow in Denmark, BUT it’s difficult to harvest good seeds 😦
Most seeds moulds just before ripening in autumn. For several years I could harvest no more than I needed for next years sowing. Since I started sowing in late march problems with mould are less pronounced. But I still don’t get a bumper harvest.
Assyriska bruna kikärter från Besvirino byn” I got from a refugee living in Sweden. He lived in a south-eastern mountain village in Turkey. Inhabitants were an Assyrian Christian minority, suffering from the conflict between Turks and Kurds.