Konjac Amorphophallus konjac

It was not planned, but happened anyway – the Konjac came in to flower. The corm has rested dry in a cupboard since autumn. 3 weeks ago the bud started growing, very rapidly. Yesterday the flower opened and took on the deep red colour. When I returned after work, I had to cut the flower immediately, and carry it out door into the snow. It has a penetrating odour like decaying flesh, probably perfect to attract the flyes needed for pollination in it’s native habitat.


I’m impressed, that a flower can grow this rapidly from a corm, given no soil or water. All its nourishment and liquid was stored in the corm.

The corm

The corm is huge. In Japan they cook a delicacy, konnyaku, from it. It’s a kind of jelly, supposed to be healthy and a joy to eat. It’s also employed by the European food industry. It is labelled E 425. See if you can find it in the supermarket!


The flower I cut from the corm. I placed it in the snow in front of the kitchen window, and brought the corm inside the house again. The rest of the stem on top of the corm will soon wither away, and after a few months I can expect a single large leaf, shaped like a palm. I grow the Konjac for the beautiful leaf.

Last time I had a Konjac in flower was in 2008.

Artichoke flower

An artichoke head was cut a bit late, and then waited a while for the chef – look up what happened!

No water, but allready in flower for many days, I guess it’ll slowly transform to an eternity flower.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Estonian Red, topsets removed

Nomally garlic do not set true seeds, but reproduce vegetatively by cloves and topsets. It has been like that for thousands of years, and even in nature garlic rarely sets true seeds. A few populations have been found in the northwest Tien Shan mountains in central asia, where wild garlic sets true seeds occasionally. I have read how scientists by tedious labour have been able to produce true garlic seeds, and growing garlics from them. Now it’s time to try it out.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Chinese Purple, topsets removed

First problem is that the flowers wither away before they produce seeds. Their short individual stalks can’t take the pressure from the swelling topsets, and thus die away. Therefore I remove the topsets, when they are large enough to handle. It’s very slow work, I have only done it on a few scapes.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Susan Delafield, topsets not yet removed

On Susan Delafield the topsets are still to small for me to handle. Maybe for the same reason there are so many flowers?

If the small flowers survive and bloom, next problem must be handled. Garlic are often male sterile, pollen is infertile. Luckily one can see on the anthers, if that’s the case. Purple anthers has fertile pollen, light colored anthers have sterile or no pollen.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Korean Red, topsets removed

The answer to the headline question is “yes, probaly”.
But then the seeds are not very likely to grow. If some of them do grow, it will take years to form a garlic. If you join me, as I hope, we are in for a true challenge.

A great thanks to Patrick from Bifucated Carrots who inspired and helped me stepping out on this path. He has a post on this subject.

Artichoke ‘Herrgård’ Cynara scolymus

Today I harvested the first artichoke heads. Now they rest under cold water, to let the insects escape.
I do not have the heart to harvest the heads every year, since the flowers are incredible beautiful.

H.C. Andersen wrote about artichoke in the fairytale “The Gardener and the Noble Family”, where he call it “The lotus of Hindustan”.

Left: My own variety (unnamed), middle and right ‘Herrgård’

Artichokes and peeled stem after boiling

Boiled artichokes and stem in the boiling water, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and wine. Now I will leave it it in the fridge for 1-3 days.

‘Herrgård’ is an old heirloom, could very well be the one H.C. Andersen knew from the gardens of danish manorhouses.

More on artichoke

Eggplant Solanum melongena ‘Skorospely’

This year I try out some recommended eggplant varieties. I possible it might end up in a new variety to grow outdoor in our cold summers, but it’s not likely to be possible. First I’m on the look-out for parenting candidates, and getting a little more experience growing eggplants. My first criteria will be the ability to produce seeds in my greenhouse. Varieties able to do that will be interesting to me.

One of my first experiences is that flowers differ in a way of possible importance for the risk/chance of crosses. In the varety ‘Skorospely’ the stigma protrudes out of the anther”barrel”. It’s a situation similar to that of the potato-leaved tomato. Thus the stigma can easily be pollinated by insects. The variaty ‘Vera’ keep the stigma inside the anther”barrel” keeping insects at a distance.
This year I will likely do nothing to avoid crosses, hope for the easier breedable to cross if any cross will happen. From my experience with tomatoes and peppers, insects will note be in the waiting line to visit the flowers, but this can be very different in other environments.
But they are rather pretty.

Eggplant Solanum melongena ‘Vera’

Eggplants this year:
ApplegreenI saved seeds of this last year, and they grow well.
Rima F1 – Standard variety in Denmark, recommenden by fellow seedsavers, although it’s a hybrid
Fairy Tale F1 – Recommended by an ecologic gardener as best to try in open ground
Czech Early – Czech variety, from Lieven David
Almaz – Russian, from Lieven David
Diamond – Ukrainian, from Lieven David
Skorospely – Russian, from Lieven David
Vera – from Lieven David
Thai F1 – Thai hybrid, from Leif Siripot
Morden Midget – North American, from Leif Siripot

Lieven send me a lot of eggplant varieties through Patrick, and Leif send me a lot from his home in Thailand. Thanks to all of you. I’ve saved a lot of the varieties for trial next year, as room is limited.

Does a reader know of a eggplant particularly suited for northern conditions I would like to know.

As eggplant is an unreliable crop in Denmark, I can not be responsible to keep a variaty for the future. Fortunately there is a lot of good people around the world taking care of our heirloom, and willing to share seeds.

Flower of potato-leaved tomato Lycopersicon esculentum “Fleischtomate, kartoffelblättrige, Tiefgefurchte“, a german heirloom

Now my tomatoes are in flower, and I have taken some photos of the flowers. Note the stigma protruding from the anther “barrel”, seriosly increasing the risk of having a cross with another tomato variety. Often it will fertilize itself, by dust dropping from the anthers to the stigma – just remember the risk/chance.

Flower of tomato with normal leaves Lycopersicon esculentum “Svoi“, a russian family heirloom

In the ordinary leaved tomato flower, the stigma is not long enough to reach out of the “barrel” of anthers. Insects rarely interfere with the stigma thus set in its private little “dusting chamber”.

Potato-leaved tomato I

The main ingredients

Kale flowerspikes stirfried with fennelshoots and scallops taste wonderfull. It includes a shallot and a garlic. First sautee the shallot and garlic in oliveoil, add the kale flowerspikes, next scallops and then fennel. It’s very quick to prepare, as shoots and flowerspikes are very tender. Add salt, pepper, lemonjuice and applecider vinegar to taste. Serve with bread.

Stirfried Red Russian with scallops

Kale flowerspikes comes from ‘Red Russian’, fennelshoots are from the perennial bronzefennel, shallot is the danish heirloom “Kartoffelløg fra Læsø” and garlic is ‘Polish hardneck’, but other varieties will be good as well. Applecider vinegar I made some years ago by natural fermenting apples from the garden, added herbs and left it to mature in the refridgerator.

Kale ‘Red Russian’ Brassica napus

Right now it’s season for the flowerspikes of kale. I guess the chinese call it kailan? They are crisp and delicious, a gourmet treat in food. You pick them by hand, snapping them off like an asparagus, in this way they break where tenderness have matured into fibres. I’m fond of broccoli, but these flowerspikes are even better – tempting to eat freshly cut. Could it be because ‘Red Russian’ is a cross between kale and black mustard with a doubling of the cromosomes? Extra cromosomes are known from a lot of species, right now I remember the two great and very different apples ‘Gravensteiner’ and ‘Belle de Boskoop’. No genetic engeneering, just results of natures strange ways.

Silybum marianum
Our Lady’s Milk Thistle Silybum marianum

This is a volunteer. Normally it would have been killed by frost here in mid february, but this mild winter has the opposite effect. Now it has set a flower bud in the middle of the leat rosette.
The marbled leaves render a wonderfull beauty to Our Lady’s Milk Thistle. Seeds are used in herbal medicine. Leaves can be eaten, as long as one remembers to cut of the thorns. Flowerbuds can be used as small artichokes, again only if one cut off the thorns.

OK, I never tasted it, but honestly I find it a beautifull plant 😉

Eranthis hyemalis. First winter aconite in flower this year.

To me the new year starts by the arrival of the first winter aconite. Now the very early winter- and springflowers start their discrete color explosion, sending many a gardener out looking for early signs of growth under trees and bushes.

Seed saving from winter aconite is simple, as they ripen their seeds well, seeds are easy to shake off when ripe. But some patience is needed, as it take some years to grow into flower. Don’t one have the patience, some tubers from a garden or nursery grow well. But the spreading carpet of winter aconites in bloom is best started from seeds. Winter aconite is bewilded here and there, but unlikely to become invasive.

It grows very nicely under decidous bushes and trees, only needing light from sprouting until may. Be carefull if using a hoe, as tubers grow very shallow, and are easily injured after leaves die down.