I love the sweet but tart berries in the Ribes genus, which is why I have planted so many of them out in my ’Berryland’ garden.

They are generally tolerant of shade, so they make an excellent understory shrub below fruit-producing trees.

Each species and cultivar is different: some have thorns, some are thornless; some have hairy leaves, some have glossy leaves; some have immunities to certain diseases, some are sensitive to mildew and host pine blister rust; some have large berries, and some have small berries.

Their flowers come in an array of colours and shapes, and are exceedingly fragrant, attracting all manner of pollinators.

For the most part, species in this genus hybridise readily, so having nine different cultivars in a small space should result in some interesting seed. I am hoping to start crossing the species I have and making some weird and wonderful hybrid offspring.

Currently, I am cultivating:

#ribes #plant breeding #edible landscaping #forest gardening

Vegan mushroom, chestnut & cranberry tart by @jamieoliver ♡ Completely dairy free & gluten free!

Serves 8
230 g gluten-free plain flour
½ tsp xanthan gum
60 g dairy-free margarine
60 g vegetable shortening

For the filling:
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
5-6 carrots, grated (450g)
250 g chestnut mushrooms
360 g peeled chestnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
225 g soya cream cheese
2 tbsp garlic oil
250 g wild mushrooms
2 tbsp dried cranberries
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the redcurrant gravy:
1 tbsp walnut oil, or garlic oil
1 tbsp red currant jelly
300 ml hot vegetable stock
1 heaped tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
For the roast potatoes:
2.5 kg floury potatoes
8 tbsp ground nut oil, or olive oil


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100 Trees a Year

Last September, I set a goal for myself to plant at least 100 trees a year, every year for the rest of my life.

Just today, I planted about that many oaks, apples, roses, and currants in gaps in the local forested area.

I planted seedlings grown from Danish oak trees, basal shoots from an apple cultivar that was bred in Denmark, seeds from a local gardener’s roses, and cuttings of my own Danish black and redcurrant bushes.

I am changing the ecosystem to one in which other people–as well as other animals–can easily forage, but trying to do so with local or locally-cultivated species as much as possible.

This isn’t an option everywhere, or even always a good idea: I currently live on an engineered wetland, and I’ve identified that the area has naturalised Japanese roses, Syrian plums, and North American dogwoods, in addition to indigenous edible species like elderberry and sea buckthorn.

As it isn’t pristine, untouched, ancient forest, I feel comfortable “disrupting” it by adding desirable fruit plants, especially around parks and pathways that are far from traffic, where people are more likely to want to pick wild fruit. 

In a few weeks, I will also have a few hundred seedling apple and pear trees that I will bike around and plant in public space as well: most of them won’t survive, but the ones that do will be those hardy enough to survive local conditions.

I’ve saved and planted every seed from every single apple or pear I have eaten this year, and I can already see a healthy crop of seedling trees coming up in the garden.

I don’t just give: I also take from the local area.

I’ve moved seedling trees that were doomed to be shaded out on the forest floor to places where they can attract local pollinators and birds into my forest garden.

On some level, I am merely hoping this is a balanced “give and take”–I plant much more than I move, always create a surplus–and I try to plant with both local ecology and local people in mind.

There is always a perceived “nature/culture” conflict between those two interests, but as we are ourselves animals, I more or less see what I do as a form of primate zoochory. Apes that aren’t very genetically dissimilar to us plant the fruit they prefer in the forests in which they live, so I have to figure it is within my rights as an organism to make my environment richer in nutritional resources!

I look forward to visiting this area in a decade or more, and literally seeing the “fruits” of my labour.

Help this blog plant 10 000 trees in 2015.