Posts Tagged ‘Polytunnel’

Edible Perennials – Siberian / Pink Purslane

800px-Claytonia_sibirica_EglintonI’m keen to try as many edible perennials as possible – I like the idea of not having to re-plant things every year, with all the work that involves. I’ve been having a great time watching “A year in a Forest Garden” from Martin Crawford at Agroforestry, and it’s been giving me lots of ideas for new plants to try. One I’ve ordered is Claytonia Sibirica, or “Siberian / Pink Purslane”.

Siberian purslane. Not from Siberia, this North American short-lived perennial grows 20 cm high in any moist soil in sun or part or full shade. The leaves are edible, raw (an excellent salad plant – beet flavour) or cooked, and the plant can be used for ground cover – it self-seeds freely. Hardy to -35ºC.

Plants for a Future have more info on it:

  • “It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to July, and the seeds ripen from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile.”
  • It seems to handle any soil and shade situation, as long as it is not too wet.
  • The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. “They usually have a fairly bland flavour and are quite nice in a salad or cooked as a green vegetable”
  • I particularly like their cultivation notes. It just sounds too good to be true – I’ll have to give it a go:

A very tolerant and easily grown plant, it prefers a moist peaty soil and is unhappy in dry situations. It succeeds in full sun though is happier when given some shade and also grows in the dense shade of beech trees. Plants usually self-sow freely. This is an excellent and trouble-free salad plant. It is extremely cold-hardy and can provide edible leaves all year round in all areas of the country even if it is not given protection.

Now I just have to sow some. Apparently it can be sown in spring or autumn, in situ. I’m planning to put it in a shady spot under the Aquaponic growbeds in the polytunnel so I’ll have to see whether their spot is ready before winter really gets going. If not, they can wait until spring – apparently they germinate quickly.

Aquaponics Update

Sorry, haven’t been posting much recently – have been sorting out our new house . . . due to move in in a few weeks – working hard – and I’ve been planning out our Aquaponics system.

It’s one of the first things that’s going up at our new house so I’ve been busily over-planning every detail. It’s looking pretty impressive now – go and have a look at the latest version of our Aquaponic Polytunnel over at Garden Aquaponics. Ive also been working hard on what we’ll grow in it – so there’s an update to our planting list there too.

Growing Dwarf Bananas in the UK

musa-super-dwarfNo, I’m not joking. We used to grow bananas, in our Brisbane garden, and had a fair bit of success. Those plants were about 4m high though – and the climate was sub-tropical!

Imagine my surprise then when I saw that one of Monty Don’s favourite fruits to grow is a banana! Admittedly a dwarf banana, but even so – growing bananas in Britain! I had expected those to be one of the items that would become unavailable, or an expensive luxury, in a post-peak-oil world but it turns out we might be able to grow them in a conservatory or greenhouse in our back garden. The variety Monty recommended was a Dwarf Cavendish, which gets to 6-7ft before fruiting, with leaves 2ft long and 6″ wide. It’s a lot smaller than our Lady Finger bananas in Brisbane, but still pretty big for a greenhouse or polytunnel. 

There is an even smaller version avalable though – the Musa Cavendish Super Dwarf Banana. These fruit when they are only 4ft tall – and look like a much better candidate for a greenhouse or polytunnel, as long as you can keep them above 3°c. Might make it onto my planting list if I have the space!

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