Oslo Garden

A blog about gardening in Oslo, Norway


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Hip hip hurray for roses!

As summer draws to a close and autumn approaches, one of the pleasures here is foraging for edibles. From mid-July until October time, Norwegians love to pick their own wild berries and fungi. Cranberries, wild strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are amongst just some of the berries you may find. Here are some I discovered walking around today.

The relatively wet summer this year means that there may be lots more fungi.  Up to now during mushroom season, it has been possible to find ‘soppkontroller’ at weekends in many areas of the Oslo Marka (forest). This had been organised by Norges sopp- og nyttevekstforbund. They would be on hand to advise on which mushrooms were edible and even check what people had picked for added reassurance. Unfortunately this year, they can no longer provide this service but you may be lucky to spot them at a local market to ask questions or pick up a leaflet. Alternatively they are running courses, and every Sunday from 16 August – 4 October they’re organising mushroom trips in the Marka. Check out their website for more information if you are interested.

This year, I’m foraging for rosehips! Rosehips are the fruit produced after the roses have flowered.

They are decorative and attractive to bird life but once rose plants have finished flowering they are all too often neglected. In fact rosehips have exceptionally high levels of Vitamin C and can be used to make jelly, herbal tea or jams, perfect as a vitamin boost over the winter months. I haven’t found any reference to eating rosehips in Norway but in Sweden there seems to be a traditional rosehip soup ‘nyponsoppa’.

You can find roses popping up in the most unlikeliest of places, along roadsides, verges or green spaces where they have naturalised and rosehips can be picked right up to the first frosts.

Here’s my haul today. I found they come off if you give them a pull by the hip itself or you can snip off them off at the rosehip stalk. Pick the deepest coloured ones and leave the others to ripen a bit longer, but look out for any critters in any softer ones.I’m going to try making this recipe I found online for rosehip syrup. You can make it straight or look for recipes with a combination of rosehips and other fruit such as apples. The syrup can then be used to make cordials or added as a topping for pancakes, ice cream or yoghurt. I’ve collected just shy of a kilo so I’ll just adjust my recipe accordingly.

River Cottage Rosehip Syrup recipe (makes a litre of syrup)

1kg rosehips, washed and chopped
1kg caster (refined white) sugar

Put two litres of water in a large pan and when boiling add the chopped rosehips and bring it back to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring.

Strain the mixture through a jelly bag/or line a colander with a couple of layers of muslin and place over a large bowl. Tip in the rosehip mixture, and leave suspended over the bowl.)

Set the strained juice aside and transfer the rosehip pulp back to the saucepan, along with another litre of boiling water. Bring to the boil again then remove from the heat, infuse for another half an hour and strain as before. Discard the pulp and combine the two lots of strained juice in a clean pan. Bring to the boil, and boil until the volume has decreased by half. Remove from the heat.

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Return to the stove, bring to the boil and boil hard for five minutes.

Pour into warmed, sterilised jars/bottles and seal.

Storage tip: Store in small jars as the syrup doesn’t last for more than a week once opened. Alternatively, set aside to cool and freeze as cubes.

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From Pot to Plate

Even with a small outside space it’s possible to grow fruit and vegetables in pots.

I like the idea of stepping outside and picking my own fresh produce and this year I decided to give it a try. In mid May, I sowed some lettuce and carrots directly into pots outside. I potted up some of the chard, kale and squash seedlings that had been hardening off alongside those intended for the school garden. I also sowed some peas of my own after seeing how nice the school one’s were…

This is what they look like now….

The containers planted with beans, squash, peas and carrots were grouped together, against a south-west facing wall. As a result they would get a lot of afternoon sun but perhaps more importantly for the beans, they were in a relatively sheltered position. One of the pots was planted with the same batch of climbing bean plants that had been planted at the school, so this was a bit of an experiment to see which beans would do better: the ones at the school’s open site versus mine in pots but in a sheltered position.

As it turned out there were uncharacteristically strong winds in spring and the beans did suffer in both locations so, as a precaution, I sowed another climbing bean in June which was another experiment to see whether leaving it so late would mean a smaller harvest. I put it in a large pot together with two squash. So far this  seems to be a good combination. The bean plant is a bit behind the others of course but they all seem happy enough together and one of the squash is now even fruiting. Finally, after having lost the label earlier in the season, I can see the variety of squash it is- Gold Rush Squash!

The pots with kale, chard, lettuce and strawberries are, in contrast to the others, positioned where there is less (intense) sun, receiving dappled shade from the nearby apple trees for part of the afternoon. This seems to be working out well for them. You’ll remember the strawberry plant that had looked a bit forlorn earlier in the year. It is now fruiting and sending out runners voraciously. You have to keep your eye on it, as it’ll sneakily send out runners when your back is turned! I’ve already trimmed a lot off as they say that you’ll get more fruit if you do, but I have decided to let some grow so I can give away some mini strawberry plants to the school later on.

Strawberry runners

Strawberry runners

Kale and chard have been a bit of a revelation as I’d never eaten them before last year! They are super easy to grow and, like lettuce, you can pick leaves gradually and they’ll keep on producing more so you end up having a constant supply. In both cases, small tender leaves make a delicious and nutritious addition to salads and bigger leaves can be fried with garlic. Absolutely yummy! Here’s a simple recipe for chard:

Cut out the main red ribs of the leaves, cut in half and set aside.

Roll up the leaves and cut cross-ways, producing strips.

Chop an onion and slice some garlic.

Fry the onion and then add the garlic in olive oil until softened.

Add the ribs and fry for about 3 minutes, then add the leaves and fry for another 3 minutes until wilted and soft.

Serve!

Do you have any recipes?