Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Mangel-Wurzel

Photo from the Cornucopia Seeds & Plants site
(where my seeds came from)

In response to Katja's comment on this weeks garden log:
"Mangelwhats!!
Sounds fascinating but what on earth is it!?"
Here's some info and links:

Mangelwurzel
Botanical Name: Beta vulgaris
Family: Chenopodiaceae

Its large white, yellow or orange-yellow swollen roots were developed in the 1700s for feeding livestock. The roots can grow to 24.72kgs (heaviest on record).

Jerry Colby Williams on Gardening Australia had a segment last year (see links below) on this curious vegetable. It has been grown for years as fodder for cows in Europe but he is promoting as an hardy edible.

It shares it's botanical name with Beetroot and Silverbeet Beta vulgaris so I guess that is a clue to it's growth habits and uses. The other two plants of the family thrive here so I thought I'd give these a go too!

Grown well, that is with added compost and sufficient water, it is supposed to produce eating quality leaves and roots. So at worst I'm hopeful of greens for the chooks and maybe some young roots for juicing.

In Jerry's article from Gardening Australia Magazine (here) he says that the seedlings don't readily transplant (ooops eek) but mine seem to have taken well and have put on new growth.

There are some interesting 'trivia' in this link under 'In popular culture' lol

It's one of the unusual plants I am trialling, not one you will see in your local 'stupidmarket'. We have to start looking 'outside the norm' for foods that will grow easily in our backyards or local neighbourhoods.

You can read the transcript of the episode of Gardening Australia which featured Jerry's segment on Mangel-Wurzels HERE

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