Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feeling sort of sad, that Franklin’s on his way to London and I’m not.

However, the sun is shining this morning, and the Aran sweater is finished. I discovered an errant stitch as I was laying it out, so I can’t officially declare it Finished until it’s dry and the stitch secured. I’m pleased with it, except for the design fault I mentioned yesterday.

Not much progress yesterday with the pink Araucania. I got the shoulders i-corded together and some pinning done, is all. Actual sewing should begin today.

Before that, however, today’s actual excitement: some old friends are coming to lunch. They will get Jamie Oliver’s tray-baked salmon with olives, green beans, anchovies and tomatoes (from “The Naked Chef”) which is probably what they had last time, three years ago. Easy to cook, easy to eat.

But I’ve got to flutter about, including rushing down to Tesco’s where fruit and vegetables are fresher than on Broughton Street.

Good King Henry

If I ever get back to the USofA (unlikely, now) I’ll have to go to Plimoth (the link in the NYTimes article is wrong) and have a look at their GKH. I think the quickest and easiest test would be to taste a leaf, and see if it really is bland.

But is it still there? Reading the article again with more care – you’re right, of course, Tamar that the gardener says she didn’t save seed, but bought it from catalogues every year – it sounds as if it may be based on research-done-by-email rather than an actual visit, and also as if GKH may not be there any more: “Ms Wall grew Good King Henry for years”.

I had always understood that GKH fell out of favour as true spinach came in (just as the article says) but that it happened because spinach tasted better. I have a Dover reprint of a wonderful book called Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World. I’ll have another look at the chenopodia when we’re next in Strathardle (where the book lives).


  1. JennyS9:08 AM

    Love the cables on the sweater!

  2. despite your concerns over the design "fault" it looks magnificent!

  3. Anonymous9:56 AM




  4. The sweater turned out beautifully. I don't live near Plimouth, or I'd steal a leaf for you. I have my first lovely, tiny, haricots verts just now in the garden, you've got me thinking that maybe I'll get a bit of salmon to go with them.

  5. Anonymous1:29 PM

    I too love the sweater. Can't imagine how you think the seed stitch is a design fault.

    After your discussions of GKH, I looked it up. We used to have a lot of Fat Hen as a weed in our garden, and the groundhogs seemed to enjoy it immensely. Not as much as the tomatoes, of course....

    Beverly in NJ

  6. That Aran sweater is a winner! I can't wait until The Games to see if the judges agree with me. :-)

  7. Robin3:35 PM

    Your sweater is beautiful! Such little fanfare for such an accomplishment.

  8. The sweater looks like a winner. Interesting to now see the finial result after earlier ideas.

  9. A quick cruise through my own books shows that we've got at least four related chenopod species growing in N America. (Including the wonderfully named "tree spinach", C. giganteum.) I wonder if anyone named in the article you read was eating true Good King Henry, or some related species that tasted differently.

    My book also repeats the legend that the chenopods fell out of favor in Europe after spinach was introduced in the Middle Ages.

  10. Anonymous4:29 PM

    The Aran is WONDERFUL!! As for the 'flaw', let's have more of them!!

    GKH .. I have been following the discussion with great interest. At least 10 years ago I bought and planted "New Zealand Spinach" seeds because it did not bolt. It appears faithfully in my garden every year ... obviously, it is a generous plant for I have discovered clumps elsewhere in the garden ..It's taste is 'tangy' but not bitter. I wonder if NZS is GKH north of the equator..hmmm

  11. the aran is just beautiful. the central panel is stunning!

    ok, back to the Chenopodiums - quite different from New Zealand Spinach (the latter's Latin name is Tetragonia tetragonioides in the Aizoaceae, iceplant family).
    Good King Henry has been introduced and is grown in the USA, but originally (and still) a native of the Central European mountains, where you can find it around cow barns etc. (very nitrogen rich places).
    i cannot say anything about the taste of GHK, in the USA nor in Europe, i'm afraid.

  12. LOVELY sweater. I look forward to seeing how it does in the Games.

  13. I'd like to see that new sweater on a grandson. Such an ambitious choice of patterns ought to be a winner.

  14. Anonymous9:56 PM

    Enjoyed the article about GKH -- but amazed that she had to re-order seed. It is a fierce weed (rampantly self-sowing) in our zone 4 US garden! We eat a bit of it, but rip out a lot.

    the sweater is lovely!!

    Ann T

  15. The sweater is gorgeous. Commiserations re. Franklin ... perhaps he will be there again next year x

  16. PS The answer to the runner bean question (in case you haven't seen it) :)

  17. =Tamar6:06 AM

    From my e-research, GKH self seeds but is easy to pull up and grows wild in the Eastern USA and Eastern Canada, and in Utah.
    It wilts when cut. Seeds germinate faster if exposed to full daylight; brief moist chilling also apparently helps, but long chilling stops it. 1-5 weeks to sprout.
    At least one close relative of it - epazote? - has nine varieties according to those who use it, but botanists lump them all together. So I suspect Good and Bad KH are different varieties; the difference may be the amount of saponins (which fend off pests), or the amount of oxalic acid, in a given variety. Right now it seems that only JLHudsonseeds (a seed bank) is offering seeds in the USA. Fedco sold out early; is it becoming popular? Saponins are removed by soaking, washing, and cooking. Other names are English mercury (as opposed to French mercury), Lincolnshire spinach, smearwort and allgood (because the whole plant is edible unless you have arthritis, kidney stones, gout, or rheumatism).

  18. =Tamar6:08 AM

    The cables came out wonderful. They look very lively! Very suitable for a small boy.