Garden with a view

I revisited Merete and Ejners garden. First visit was in spring, this second visit was after the first frost. The garden is situated in a village, with a view over field and wood.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

The huge sage with the wrinkled stems made me think of
the oldest oak in Denmark. Age is an important dimension in our garden plants. Never saw a more beautiful sage.

Kirsten and Merete deeply engaged in garden talk

People fond of gardening always talk a lot, when we meet in a garden. It still surprises me, how different we people can grow our gardens. Even with same plants in same climate. We ate us through the different fruit trees; cooking apples, table apples, pears, prunes, filberts and grapes.

Old grape wine growing in the apple trees

A very old grape wine has conquered the tops of some of the apple trees. In old days there was a greenhouse around it, but since it perished, the grape wine has continued to grow with no protection. Could it be the old variety Frankenthaler?

Leaf chicory

There still is a lot of vegetables in the garden. The leaf chicory was served for lunch – mmm…. We also had leek and a mayonnaise spiced with ‘Susan Delafield’ garlic.
Thanks for a nice day.

Yacon parade in Kirstens allotment

Kirsten have yacon this year. She had some crowns from a seed saver that had luck overwintering his yacon crowns. Overwintering is the real challenge in yacon growing in northern europe. This summer she promised Anne and me a root with crown in autumn. As frost is forecasted a few nights ahead, we agreed to meet in her allotment today. Yacon should be harvested as late as possible, but like Dahlia, frost will kill it. Typically we would wait for the first frost to kill the top, and then harvest the tubers safe in the ground. Anyway, we did it three days ahead.

Vi both tried digging gently with the fork

Roots of yacon are brittle. Delicious eating, but in demand of a gentle hand on the fork not to break the tubers. We did break some on almost all plants, but still think we did quite well. One of them we tasted. Nice crisp, but no sweetness yet. They need time in storage to develop the charateristic sweetness.

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius syn. Polymnia sonchifolia) ‘Morado’
Tubers of yacon grow large

This variety does well in culture. We don’t know a name for it. It grow large to huge red tubers, which after time in storage develop the sweet taste. We agreed not to wash the tubers, but just dry and store them as we do with Dahlias.

Kirsten presented two sets of tubers to me. Anne had a set of tubers, a crown and a small plant. The two last she will try to grow through winter in a cold glazed frost protected balcony. My tubers are now drying protected in my greenhouse. In a few days I’ll store them dry in the bottom of my larder, as I do with my Dahlias. This year I will not eat any of the tubers, as last year I ate them and the crowns died. It’s the crown with its eyes that you set in spring. The tuber have no eyes, and can’t grow a new yacon in spring.

Have a look at Yacon, sweet treat from the Andes and Yacon crown in january

Garlic Estonian Red, grown by Søren, Anne and Kirsten

We are three seedsavers who privately made our little garlic competition. Who grow the largest garlic? It was very interesting, as we went in to long talks on how we grow our garlics, and how our local soils affect the garlics.

Garlic Inchelium Red, grown by Anne, Søren and Kirsten

After these two pictures I’m proud to present the results of the competition:
Kirsten is the winner of our little competition – congratulations 🙂

Estonian Red is as usual a big garlic with few big cloves. The garlic is heavy, as the few big cloves makes it compact. If you eat a lot of garlic, there is no better garlic to grow in Denmark. The huge cloves are easy to peel, taste is strong and it keep very long time in storage. I know some have been eating it from their own harvest as late as early june. It is mentioned in Heirloom Vegetable Archive. Pictures (and danish text) can be seen in Karna Majs diary. Estonian red is a hardneck, a Marbled Purple Stripe variety. Bifurcated Carrots garlic types.

Inchelium Red we have grown for two years now. It didn’t get as big as last year, and this year we had many smaller garlics in this variety. The big ones are still big. Hopefully it will stabilise with a big size and few small ones, in a few years. Inchelium Red is a softneck of Artichoke type.

Anne in her allotment

What is the secret in Kirstens garden?
She has a sandy soil next to a stream. Annes garden is almost next to. They have water down in the sand all year round, in reach of any plant that has started well. Kirsten dig in a lot of compost deep in the soil. It makes her soil light and black, noutrisous, full of microorganisms, that functions by prolonging the roots of garlic (and onions). She also add a little lime and woodash. Garlic are gratefull for this kind of tender loving care.
Anne work to improve her sandy soil. Who knows, in few years Anne and Kirsten might have to share the first prize?

Why don’t I (Søren)do like Kirsten and Anne?
My soil is heavy clay with lime. If I dig that deep, the organic matter will pack airtight. Instead of an aerobic proces, I will have an anaerobic, rotting the organic matter and producing growth restricting substances, not enriching the soil as wanted.
My soil needs patience. Patience, lots of organic matter and earthworms. The earthworms are experts in dragging organic matter in to the soil, and never too deep. I can see a huge improvement by now, and there is still room for more. I’ll continue, and hopefully I can match the garlics of Kirsten and Anne sometime in the future.

Box for sprouting tests, selfwatering, Årslev model

Springs seed meeting started with a lecture in seed saving in private gardens, an introduction for beginners. The friday evening ended with a big seed exchange between participants. OK, not really exchange – more a seed handout for interested members, and there was a huge amount of seed. I couldn’t resist the temptations, and brought plenty of new seeds and cuttings back home. Talking about our seeds like that, I realise how differently we all grow our gardens. Some are very concerned about saving old varieties and their history of origin, one experiments with permaculture based on winter-harvestable vegetables, others grow medicinal herb, others specialise in a few crops, some grow a little of everything, one has been completely selfsupplying with vegetables, seeds (and meat) for twenty years. Together a richness of experience to share.

Seed exchange

Saturday we spend a day learning at Research Centre Aarslev. First Gitte Kjeldsen Bjørn lectured on plant genetic resources and the maintanaince of the danish clone collections of hop, jerusalem artichoke, horseradish, rhubarb and shallot.

Gitte Kjeldsen Bjørn demonstrates the multiplying of the danish hop clones and lectures on their aromatic qualities and the research in beerbrewing with these clones.

Rhubarb clones needs space. At every stick are two copies of each clone.

Gitte Kjeldsen Bjørn served four selected clones of jerusalem artichoke raw. We judged the taste. One in particular was cause of discussion – It was judged either best or worst, no one in between.

Martin Jensen explained vigor and seed dormancy in a way, that both beginners and experienced listened carefully and brought home new knowledge. He taught us, that seeds dried at room temperature can be stored in the freezer, as long as there has been normal heating in the room. At 50-60% relative humidity in the air seed dries perfect in only three weeks. What a concrete and usefull knowledge.

Martin Jensen explains sprouting tests. By now he had been talking like a river for almost three hours, and we are still hungry for his knowledge.

Many trials in Aarslev are performed in greenhouses, where conditions can be controlled in details.

Sunday Flemming Pedersen (right) learned us how to make a willow tower. At left Brian Krause (Gourmethaven.dk) is working on his willow tower.

The beautiful willow knot Flemming introduced to us.

Sarah and Andrew from Seed Ambassadors plan to visit Romania soon. Read more in their bloghttp://www.seedambassadors.org/wp/?p=307