big wonders from our little garden / Ground Elder
text & photo: aboutosterlen.com
Ground elder or the Goutweed, or Kirskål in Österlen, is a perrenial plant that can be found all around. It used to be popular in Roman times and then spread all over Europe with monks who cultivated it in monastery gardens.
Often, ground elder is a gardeners nightmare, since it is fast growing and very evasive. The trick is that you want to have a little bit, and not spread all over the garden. That is why it needs to be controlled. In our little garden, we do have a ground elder corner, since it is nice to have some for culinary purposes.
HOW TO GET RID OF THE GROUND ELDER?
Cutting the goutweed with a low mower wont help much. Here is good to know how ground elder grows. Each of this little plants has a little rhisome in the root.
Just a few centimeters under the soil every litlle plant connects with the other, creating a net. Since we don´t want to use artificial herbicides in the garden, the only way is to pull each rhisome out of the soil. It is a slow way, but very efficient and pretty simple, once you learn how.
The tool you see on the photo is perfect for the job. Of course, it can be done by hands too, and it is all about gentle digging. Once you pulled out the rhisome, the new plant will not grow again at the same spot.
It can be that a huge area is invaded by kirskål, and that would make this method too slow and demanding. In that case, you can use some material to cover the area and prevent the sun, and then just leave it so, for a year, or better two. That should leave you with a soil without any grand elder, and ready to seed whatever you want instead.
HOW TO GROW GROUND ELDER?
Once decided how much you want it to spread, it is simple to control ground elder. Just check on it every few days and pull out the rhisomes with plants that went over that area. Kirskål likes the shadow, and it is good to have it near stone walls, makes it easier to control.
HOW TO USE GROUND ELDER IN THE KITCHEN?
Best are the youngest leaves on the plant which can be eaten fresh or in the salads. Boiled leaves are delicious with some pasta, cream, and garlic. Ground elder has a delicate taste, something between the cellery and ruccola, and is extremely full of vitamins and fibres.That´s why it should be eaten in small portions and not so often. Older leaves and stems are not recommended.