Morfydd St. Clair

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since Feb 09, 2015
Hamburg, Germany
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Recent posts by Morfydd St. Clair

Thanks to both of you!  I'll start contacting companies!
2 weeks ago
I'm kind of always looking for the same thing.  This Google go-round, I'm seeing lots of references to "Anny's Summer Red" which looks like a European-style chestnut.  The European sellers are saying it will top out at 2-3 meters high, while the American ones suggest 4-6.  I'm tempted!
2 weeks ago
Hi all,

I've had my Kleingarten for a few years now, and it's becoming clear that there's something I'm not understanding about my soil, and I'm unnecessarily killing plants.  In the US I'd call my handy dandy state university Extension Office and arrange for a soil test.  My bf used to work for the Federal Ag Research Center and says my options are several thousand euros for a commercial test... or nothing.  This sounds odd.

Is there anything like that here in Germany?  (Or the rest of the EU - I'll ship!)  I'm willing to pay a reasonable amount for a commercial service, but I'm mentally predisposed that a government office would be cheaper and more objective.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
2 weeks ago
I hate being too hot.  (I also hate being too cold, and my optimal temperature range is about 68-72 degrees.  Life is hard. )  I also used to like going to Burning Man.  These things have worked for me, in a hot arid environment:

--Cool Vests really are awesome - pair them with the bandanna and wristlets for optimum usage.  Buy at least 2 sets so one can be sitting in the bucket soaking up water while you're wearing the other.  They will give you 1 minute of "OMG dying of cold", 30 minutes of "this is quite nicely cool" and another hour or so of "ok, moderately more comfortable than not wearing them."
--They also sell the powder that's inside the vests, so you can make your own garments.  I made a cute Victorian bodice filled with the stuff and a bustle out of my water pack.  Bonus:  I got to carry around a parasol, which also helps.
--Lightweight but covering clothes.  Long robes, head coverings, the like, out of cotton/silk/linen.  This isn't for modesty, this is to block the sun.  Hats help too.
--Shade.  "Hard" shade is thrown by buildings, cars, mountains,... and is 1000% better than "soft" shade, like from trees or awnings.  Trees and awnings are still worth it, though.
--Water.  As cold as you can get it, as much as you can drink.  With electrolytes/coffee/fruit at least some of the time so you don't get water poisoning.
--Spray bottles.  You and your stuff will be annoyingly sodden all the time.  Worth it.  Reapply your sunscreen.
--Sunscreen.  Sunburned skin cannot regulate temperature - you will be miserable in the heat AND in the cold when the sun goes down.  And sunburn hurts.
--Siesta.  Just accept that X hours during the day you can't do anything but try desperately to rest in whatever shade you can find.  Maybe you can make it up after dark.
1 month ago
I planted my linden trees specifically because I read you can make a chocolate substitute from the flowers and seeds, though it doesn't keep at all. 

This link is as close as I can get to a real recipe:  https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/basswood-tree-chocolate-substitute.201731/

Backwoods Home has a vague assurance that it can be done:  http://www.backwoodshome.com/the-chocolate-tree-isnt-just-for-kids/ - late flowers and early fruits for chocolate paste, mature seeds for cocoa drink.

This person tried and had no success, possibly because she was using American linden:  https://practicalselfreliance.com/wild-foraged-linden-chocolate/

PFAF warns that the flowers may have a slight narcotic effect if "too old" - picked too old?  stored too long?  Sigh.
1 month ago
Thank you all for your information and suggestions!  I am trying to get it to grow up/into a pair of linden trees that will be heavily pollarded and pleached together so I've just been tying it into the trees and letting it do its thing.  I think I'll start some cuttings from my neighbor's grape* and look into grafting them.  I'll keep everyone posted!

*I'd only cut parts over my property line.  Even then I'd ask permission but he's never there as he got a garden closer to home.  I'd also want to get it this year as he's trying to sell the lot and I worry new people might cut the grape down.  If anyone knows someone in Hamburg who would like a gorgeous, immaculately maintained (until last year) Kleingarten, please let me know!
1 month ago
When we started working with this Kleingarten, the previous owners had a plastic planter/arbor on the patio with a grape vine running over it (and the cottage, and anything else that stood still too long in the vicinity).  For 2 years, it leafed out, I saw little clusters of what looked like proto-grapes, then nothing.  A couple of years ago, we dug out the planter, gave away some roots, and planted the largest at the end of the patio to climb over a couple of linden trees.  It's come roaring back.  There are still no grapes.

Should I tear it out?  (Easier said than done - this thing is unkillable.)  Should I try grafting on something that I know produces?  (My neighbor's tasty grape is climbing over our mutual fence.)  It gets full sun, plenty of water, and heat reflection from the patio and cottage.  Is there a nutrient I can give it to convince it to produce?

Many thanks in advance!
1 month ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:We found Asian persimmon, especially a little unripe, to taste quite a bit like tomatoes, especially in salads and in tacos. They have a similar firm texture, too. And, they're a hardy perenial tree that supposedly will grow here! I used my birthday money to buy a tree this year, so hopefully we'll find that they do, indeed, do well here.

As for tomatoes, I only grow cherry tomatoes. I had a lot of luck with Sungold cherries. I like cherry tomatoes better than the big ones, and they ripen a lot sooner, which is good, because once the fall rains come, my tomatoes get blight and die.

I tried tomatilloes two years ago, but only got a few tomatillos, and most of them split before they were ripe. And then blight took them. THough I left lots of split ones to hopefully reseed, none of them did. Maybe it didn't get hot enough that year to get a good tomatillo harvest.

I've also heard of people using Autumn Olive and Goumi in tomato recipes. I've never tasted either, and have read that they;re a unique flavor but they do have lots of lycopeen (17 times the amount in tomatoes)... Here's a recipe for Autumn Olive ketchup: http://southernforager.blogspot.in/2014/08/autumn-olive-ketchup-great-recipe.html Here's a description of the flavor (https://hubpages.com/food/Wild-Autumn-Olive-Berries-for-Jams-and-Tomato-Sauce)

Autumn olive berries, more than anything else, taste like tomatoes—only a lot stronger.

You will probably not notice the tomato flavor if you eat the raw berries. The “tomato” flavor comes out in cooking, and its intensity alone makes it hard to recognize.

When the berries are cooked to make sauce, the house smells a lot like you are cooking tomato sauce. When small amount of autumn olive berry sauce is added to a soup, the soup will taste exactly as if tomatoes had been added to the soup. The main difference is, it takes much less autumn olive berry sauce than tomato sauce to provide this amount of flavor.

In another of my experiments in cooking with autumn olive berries, I made the sauce into spaghetti sauce and served it my teenage daughter and her boyfriend. The boyfriend could not tell any difference between the autumn olive berry sauce and regular tomato sauce.

My daughter and I could tell the difference. First, the flavor was far more intense. Second, there was a hint of tannins, as if a little black tea had been added to the sauce.

Another difference—to me, at least—was that the autumn olive berry sauce was far more filling. It’s almost as if the berries are so packed with nutrition that it takes far less to satisfy the appetite.



Those are some great ideas, Nicole!  I have eleaegnus x Ebbingei that just went in last year - are the berries very different from autumn olive?
2 months ago

Morfydd St. Clair wrote:

This could be an interesting experiment!  Last year I had hundreds of tomato seedlings and none of them matured in a crazy cool summer.  This year I'm not doing the annual garden as there's a lot of infrastructure work to do.  However, I have a lot of tart rhubarb, currants, and jostaberries that will come up on their own, and squash might give the sweet and umami flavors needed.

I was going to say that the tart fruits come in too early to be mixed with late squash, but now I'm reading about drying rhubarb so maybe it's possible to get everything synced up.  Is there a summer squash that would have the sweet/umami of something like a butternut squash?



Every Sunday my friend and I cook together - we alternate picking recipes and meet up online.  Yesterday we experimented with this idea, trying to make a tomato-ish sauce that could go over pasta.  She used butternut squash and strawberries, and her verdict was:  "It was NOT a good combination.  The initial taste was good, but the aftertaste just ruined it."

I think mine was more successful.  It did't taste like tomato, but it would be a nice base for recipes.

Key ingredients:
-- Hokkaido pumpkin (because it's what the market had)
-- frozen rhubarb from last year
-- salt
-- black pepper

Strategy:
-- Tossed the squash into a cold oven and set it to 200 deg Celsius, turned the oven off after about 40 minutes and pulled it out 20 minutes later to continue.
-- Cut the squash in half, tossed the seeds.  The skin is edible and disappeared in blending.  I ended up with about 800 g squash.
-- Put the squash in the pot with some rhubarb, brought to a boil, started tasting.  Added water as needed to avoid scorching.
-- Blended with a stick blender periodically to make sure the rhubarb taste was mixed in.

At 200 g rhubarb, it could barely be tasted.  At 300 g, it was definitely there, and with a healthy dose of salt it was a nice sauce.  However, the boyfriend pointed out that you wouldn't put it over pasta because it was so bland.  At 600 g rhubarb, the flavor really popped!

I would say you could go to equal weights rhubarb/squash and have a nice fruity, umami sauce.

Notes:
-- Don't stint on the salt!  It really makes a difference.  (Tomatoes are salty in and of themselves, rhubarb and squash aren't.)
-- I assume my rhubarb broke down super quickly because it had been frozen and defrosted, breaking the cell walls.  You'd probably want to simmer it a few minutes while the squash roasted so you could just blend it together and be done.
-- I experimented in side bowls with garlic powder, cinnamon, and other spices.  The black pepper was the only one that made this taste more tomato-y.
-- To replace, say, spaghetti sauce, I'd also add oil (or meat), thin it out quite a bit with water, and use traditional italian spices.  A little will go a long way.

Now I'm enthusiastic to try this with red currants as the sour and plums or apples as the sweet!
2 months ago

William Schlegel wrote:

however your question is about replacements.

There is a lot of potential to develop different cuisines. Pascal Baudar did this down in L.A. as a professional forager for chefs. There are some excellent books for foraging in the pacific northwest and you may find that with some study that there may be a number of plants that can be used to produce a tart sauce. These plants could include pacific crabapple, salmon berry, thimbleberry, raspberry, or rhubarb to name a few. The thing is none of these taste like tomatoes. They have their own flavors. One of Pascauls explorations was lemon subsitutes by foraging green fruits
https://www.amazon.com/New-Wildcrafted-Cuisine-Exploring-Gastronomy/dp/1603586067

You could extend this exploration of local cuisine possibilities to domestic plants as well as wild- whatever actually does well in your area and its very possible that a satisfying cuisine can be entirely locally sourced. I am sure you can recreate tart and satisfying sauces that might be good on pizza, pasta, and in all the various ways we use tomatoes. The flavor may just be very different from that of tomatoes.

So that's my thought, acceptable replacements may have similar features but different flavors and if you haven't already try the very shortest season tomato varieties available.



This could be an interesting experiment!  Last year I had hundreds of tomato seedlings and none of them matured in a crazy cool summer.  This year I'm not doing the annual garden as there's a lot of infrastructure work to do.  However, I have a lot of tart rhubarb, currants, and jostaberries that will come up on their own, and squash might give the sweet and umami flavors needed.

I was going to say that the tart fruits come in too early to be mixed with late squash, but now I'm reading about drying rhubarb so maybe it's possible to get everything synced up.  Is there a summer squash that would have the sweet/umami of something like a butternut squash?
2 months ago