Self-Seeded Tree Spinach, Wild Carrot and Plant Material Laws

I am trying to finish an article on seed saving, swapping, transition and the recent EU Plant Material directive for the next issue of Transition Free Press, currently in production and due out at the beginning of September. I needed a breather so I went into the garden to see the burgeoning Tree Spinach.

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In fact, there is a strong connection between the Tree Spinach (Chenopodium giganteum ‘magenta spreen’) you see in the picture and the article.

These plants self-seeded from five or six I sowed last year to see what they were like. We ate some of the leaves last night cooked like ordinary spinach and they were very tasty. The seeds (which are also edible, the plant is related to quinoa) came originally from the Real Seed Catalogue in Wales, who specialise in open-pollinated, non-hybrid heritage and heirloom vegetables for home gardeners. Just the kind of plants the new law could threaten the existence of.

Another great thing about the people at the Real Seed Catalogue is that they actively encourage you to save the seed from your own vegetable plants for the following year. When you’re really into plants and seeds and growing, generosity and a desire to share and swap seem to be part of the mix. This is certainly the case at our annual Give and Grow events in Sustainable Bungay each May.

I’m really looking forward to trying the huauzontle (Chenopodium berlandieri) I’ve planted this year when it’s ready, which also comes from Real Seed stock.

Meanwhile I spotted another favourite beginning to bloom in the garden today. A beautiful pink version of wild carrot (Daucus carota). Who knows how long this ancestor of our more familiar cultivated vegetable has been around…

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Now I really must finish that piece.

All text and images by Mark Watson, Creative Commons with Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives. Images: Tree Spinach, Magenta Spreen self-sown 2013; Wild Carrot, ancestor.

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