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Thoughts on Springbank clover and coastal gardens

 
master gardener
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Springbank clover or Trifolium wormskiolidii - Anyone tried it?



Beyond wildlife springbank clover is notable as a major historical food source for native people who steamed the fleshy rhizomes (they have a taste and texture similar to bean sprouts!). Indeed we think this species is adapted to human management with individual plants tending to lose vigor unless they are periodically divided and re-planted. Through active management by rhizome division and replanting, large gardens were apparently maintained by native people.



source

I've been considering silverweed, which grows very well here, and am transplanting some plants into the area I'm improving the soil of at the moment. Reading more about the way the peoples of the Pacific Northwest cultivated the silverweed in gardens with the clover, makes me wonder whether I should try the combination here on Skye. Logically if silverweed grows here then the springbank clover should too. I'm wondering whether it would be worth the experiment to get hold of some seed for growing here.
Our local clover isn't great for edibility - too tough really. There are a few vetch that would fill the nitrogen fixing niche, or Lathyrus linifolius is an interesting native root, Lathyrus tuberosus might be another alternative with allegedly edible tubers which I've fancied trying for a while. I just wonder whether anyone has had first hand experience of eating the traditional partner at all? The clover rhizomes are supposed to be good fresh, cooked or dried for later. I'm still trying to get my Fritillaria camschatcensis (riceroot) to germinate, so won't have that to add to the mix for a while..



source

I found several useful references which made rather sad reading at times....
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232965032_Nutritional_significance_of_two_important_root_foods_springbank_clover_and_pacific_silverweed_used_by_native_people_on_the_coast_of_British_Columbia
https://academic.oup.com/icesjms/article/77/7-8/2472/5905140?login=false
https://www.seagardens.net/root-gardens
http://www.soiledandseeded.com/magazine/issue06/root_gardens.php
 
Nancy Reading
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Can I ask anyone in the Pacific North West to look and see if they have Springbank clover growing near them? I'd be interested in first hand accounts of edibility - I believe it is harvested rather later in the year, but should be in flower round about now which would make it easier to identify. Also interested in seed if that would be possible - happy to swap, cover postage or another favour, pay forwards ....


(edit spelling)
 
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Hey there, I'm following this post as I'm also interested in cultivating and tending to a springbank clover patch. I planted a packet of springbank clover in our garden this spring and I'm pretty sure they became slug food
 
Nancy Reading
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Thanks for the reply, zurcian. That would be disappointing if the slugs get it before the plants get to maturity. Ken Fern suggests growing the seed in a cold frame if they are in short supply. It might be if they have some protection as seedlings they would have a better chance. I gather Mandy Barber of Incredible vegetables is trying to grow it in the UK, but is having difficulties finding the conditions they like. They are having a bit of a heat wave down South in the UK this year though and I'm much cooler (and wetter!) being further North on Skye so I think I've got a good chance....I have seen a couple of US nurseries offering plants and seeds but none available just now, but whether they ship to the UK is doubtful.I don't think clover comes under restricted seeds, so there should be no problem importing them here for garden use.
springbank clover root edible grown in container
source
I found a recipe for Kimchi using the roots from Native Foods Nursery. They show the plant growing roots round and round in pots, so it should be reasonably happy at least for a time in a pot if you can get the moisture levels and compost blend right.
 
zurcian braun
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Hi Nancy, thanks for the tips. I'm definitely going to start them in pots next time. And yum, kimchi:)

This is where I bought my seeds -> Northwest meadowscapes

It looks like they're available but no idea about shipping!
 
Nancy Reading
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Thanks - doesn't look like Northwest meadowscapes ships outside North America at this time...
 
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