Archive for the ‘Beneficial Plants and Shrubs’ Category

Wow what a crazy but highly enjoyable day yesterday! Starting at around 5am I woke up, had some decaf and headed straight to the allotment as last time I was there I saw at the last moment (when I was rushing home) that the Italian vine tomato had a decent amount of very red ripe fruits (and that was a good 4-5 days ago!), these plants never let me down (if planted in the ground) and so I didn’t want to lose these beautiful tom’s!

A good few hours there resulted also, in a decent batch of Elderberry heads which I got on the way there (Which were used tonight to make Elderberry elixir), a very nice large harvest (photo further below) and a bit of weeding, watering, compost bin management etc.

After arriving home, all harvested goods including the Elderberries needed urgent washing etc. to be placed in the fridge immediately, thereafter I found an older courgette that was about to go bad and so, decided to make Courgette (Zucchini) Cake! Part of the harvest was a decent batch of Purple French Beans and a few Runner Beans as well, these are intended for pickling so were processed and placed overnight into a brine solution so that tomorrow they will be placed into their final jar along with the Spiced Pickling Vinegar (Which I also made tonight!!)

I decided that I need to get a move-on with the elderberry harvests (some are in the fridge and some in the freezer), my other-half and I sat for a good 40 min’s removing the berries from their stalks and placing in a jar to make the Elderberry Winter Ailment Elixir, I have a very good recipe for this and have proven this to be a very good flu / winter cold remedy which was quite effective last Winter with the whole family!

Organic Vegetable Harvest

Organic Permaculture Allotment Harvest (UK) 2018

In the above photo, I have added lines to divide the veg’s into three rows, from top left:

  1. French Purple and Runner beans, Aztec Broccoli and Hokkaido Pumpkin
  2. Sorrel, Maris Piper Potatoes, Giant Goosefoot, Bush Legend Tomatoes, Dwarf Bush Courgettes (Zucchinis) – these were harvested quite small as I am trying to get at least one more harvest before season end,
  3. Elderberry (foraged), Italian Vine tomatoes (great for sauces), Salad Burnet, Tangerine and Millefleur cherry tomatoes and finally Tomatillos with the Snail Tree-cookie below which represents my favourite of the 12 permaculture principles: ‘Use Small and Slow Solutions’

It is definitely Elderberry season right now (at least in and around London) so get foraging as you will definitely will not have much time after the next week or so if you are lucky! Remember, throw them straight into the freezer in a bag, you can take time out later to do something with them in a recipe when you are more collected and have the time to do so! In the meantime, check out this delicious Elderberry Syrup Recipe which I made last year which also has immune system benefits as a buildup to the Winter months, the Elderberry Elixir is more suited to last well into next years winter because it is made with alcohol and preserves better .. enjoy!

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Over the weekend I was blessed with quite a few Butterflies (I installed a Buddleia early this year) and saw a Lacewing which so far, I don’t recall seeing one in the last few years in either my garden or allotment …

I also got out and secured a second batch of Nettle Seeds (I started using these and foraging for them last year), they are great added in practically anything from smoothies to porridge, salads, soups etc etc! This year has been a little weird with the weather and so, they are ripening far too quickly and soon won’t be available so get out soon and get snipping! I’ve now got 3 seed tray bottoms full of Nettle seed stalks drying out on windowsills, I estimate that if you find good decent nettle seed, that a half shopping carrier bag to a full one will supply a small family with enough till next season.

Elderberries are already ripening everywhere I go, again, since it has been such a dry summer, I’ve observed that many of them have already rejected much of their fruit as a survival tactic, so only take what you need and don’t overdo it. I have a couple recipes for Elderberry so as usual, I would recommend you immediately freeze them when you get home as you may not have gotten enough on your first session to make something – also, they are far easier to remove from their flower stalks when frozen.

Elderberries do wonders for our immune systems, hence why nature gives them to us just at the end of summer towards the cold / hibernation / dormancy months …

I almost decided not to go to this year’s London Permaculture Festival, not sure why, maybe it was being a little bit tired and having some things to do which I hadn’t worked on yet (the festival was on Sunday 29th July). I  pulled myself out to go and still didn’t or never will regret it!

Funnily enough, London has had barely any rain for the last Two months at the very least and when the LPF event is on then the Rain came quite heavily the previous night, it might have been a little bit of a disappointment for the organisers as, if the weather was the usual 27- 30+ degree C weather I bet the turnout would have been quite heavy – at least now we can identify the true Permies in London, the ones not scared of mother Earth’s life..

Anyway, I’m now a proud 4 Year straight LPF Bum!

Partially one reason why I’m always excited to go is mainly the rare edible plants you can find for sale there which are perennial and are always great additions to any Food Forest of any size, this year’s availability was great and included species which I don’t recall being available in previous years (unless they were sold before I got there?).

London Permaculture Festival 2018 timetable

LPF 2018 Workshop Timetable

 

As usual the extensive workshops going on during the day are very educational and are all included in the door charge so you can go to as many workshops as you can physically attend between 11am and 5pm! I would like to have attended the Beekeeping workshop but since I did attend one in 2014 given by  ”the barefoot beekeeper” it wasn’t such a major loss … The ”How to grow LOTS of herbs and microgreens in a small space” event was very educational and was given by the same chap who did last year’s event which covered growing lots of vegetables and fruits in containers. I ended up my day attending the ”building with Strawbales” workshop which was also educational.

Various hand crafted goods, clothing and consumables such as soaps, health products etc. were on sale both inside the main hall as well as in the entrance car park – activist and awareness groups were educating visitors about various concerns etc.

Permanent Publications always have discounts going on and this time if you paid the £5 for the latest issue of Permaculture Magazine, they allowed you to pick any of the available back-issues on the table to take for free … I had subsequently just ran out of my cash budget a few minutes before when I bought a half year’s supply of hand made herb soap and couldn’t take advantage of that nice offer 😦

I did not have a camera at hand this time – however I did some good photographing of previous years: 201520162017

There are enough Dandelion flowers in bloom that you can start collecting now for various recipes, Last year’s Dandelion Flower Wine was a great success as well as the Jam – I still have one bottle of Wine left which us being saved for s good sunny day.

dandelion gorilla 1

Today I collected enough for a batch of Jam, this recipe will be an annual mainstay in my home preservation to-do list, the only other Jam recipe I like almost as much is an experimental one which includes Fuschia berries, Ginger and Crab Apples – this recipe, will remain top-secret for now unfortunately 😉

I noticed today that many of the flowers are in bloom all at once owing probably to the sudden 10 Deg Cel. + more heat we have had since the previous week, compared to last year where the plants gradually sent up flowering stalks a few at a time – in conclusion I recommend you get out now before the plants run out of energy and shoots! Throwing a bag in the fridge / freezer is always an option when you don’t think you can get hold of enough in one go!

Another recipe is Dandelion Root Coffee, you merely collect enough dandelion roots to fill a typical oven baking tray.

Wash them pretty well, chop them into small +- 3cm / 1 in long pieces and lay out on a baking tray and cook in the oven until they brown and become a bit crusty (to be able to crush them into a powder) this calls for carefully keeping an eye and ensuring the roots don’t burn. Once complete, just crush them into a powder and store in a jar – some people wrongfully call Dandelion Coffee a ”Coffee Substitute” this is a different taste and is much healthier …

Links for recipes:

I will (hopefully weekly) be posting part by part, all of the episodes of Living With The Land which is a series shot by the good people involved with the Permaculture scene (mainly Permaculture Media) in the UK.

forest gardening

Just one example of how inside / part of a Forest Garden looks like

In this episode they discuss the concept behind Forest Gardening and how it is done, it includes some interview time with Martin Crawford who is known famously in the UK scene as he owns and has been maintaining a 20+ year old forest garden.

 

Follow my blog for updates when I post the following videos in the series, for the imaptient, you can view the series on their youtube channel from the above video.

veg-patch-view

Mandy and her partner run a section of a cooperatively bought piece of land and run their Incredible Vegetables enterprise, as much as I would like to explain some details about their project, I will most likely be mirroring exactly what is already in the interview. Here are a few previous posts (Post 1) & (Post 2) regarding Incredible Vegetables for those who haven’t seen them yet.

What was your inspiration to create your enterprise? did you already have this in mind when you obtained your little strip of land or was it later on?

We didn’t have an enterprise in mind when we first obtained the land. We wanted to be self sufficient in vegetables, that was our main priority. The enterprise essentially developed from sharing what we were doing on social media and people starting asking us about the plants we were growing. There is such an interest in perennial vegetables that once people heard we were experimenting with such plants we had a huge number of requests. We thought why don’t we try and grow and supply a few of the harder to find edible perennials? It all developed from there and Incredible Vegetables was launched!

What is your reason for concentrating on unusual / bizzarre vegs and edible plants?

We spent many years as  ‘regular’ growers. By that I mean growing stuff in the back garden, including all the things you would normally find in a vegetable garden. We thought there must be more to eat and grow and there must be a different way of doing it. There are a myriad of edimentals and perennial vegetables out there and once you start researching them it is pretty hard to stop. Also we wanted to move away from enormous amount of work that annual growing involves.
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Nature provides! I say no more, well I still have to give you all the basic recipe for this natural Immune System Booster.

At the moment, Elderberries (‘Sambucus nigra‘) are still available on most Elder trees (pay attention to trees that are mostly in shaded areas or situated behind / under larger shrub or trees as these will bare berries a little later or / the berries will take a bit longer to spoil).

 

I emphasise on the importance in obtaining Fresh berries as opposed to buying dried berries online, buying online should be a last resort only if you have actually made the effort in trying to locate the Trees and found none or if you live in a highly polluted area…

The steps are really simple and this syrup can be made into many different recipes for various Medicinal Benefits, here however, I am giving the very basic recipe and you can then go ahead to try different herbs / spices to make different batches for the Flu / Cold season.

What’s needed:

  • Harvested Elderberries that are enough to make Two Cups of loose berries (I recommend you pick a lot and freeze he rest but please, remember to leave some for birds and other wildlife),
  • Water (2x Cups),
  • Local Honey (One Jar per 2 cups of berries),
  • Muslin cloth or bags,
  • Optional: Cloves, Ginger, Thyme, Cinnamon sticks etc. for more advanced medicines

Method:

  • Place the Two Cups of Elderberries in a Saucepan / Pot together with the Two Cups of water and a cinnamon stick, then boil,
  • Once Boiling, lower the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces to around half the original volume,
  • Pour into a heat resistant container and let cool down to room temperature ( a measuring container might be best for your first time),
  • Once cool, pour the mixture through a Muslin cloth or bag into a new container, lift out the cloth / bag and give it a good squeeze to release extra juices,
  • Add the same amount of Local Honey as your leftover liquid so for example, if you had 350ml of the juice after it cooled down, then add 350ml of Local Honey and mix well,
  • Place into clean sterilised jars (I Highly recommend the Washing and Oven method)
sambucus nigra

‘Sambucus nigra’ – Ripe Elderberries

This recipe is to boost the immune system for the flu and cold months and needs to be placed in the fridge / freezer immediately.

Dosage:

  • Take one spoonful every morning during or near the flu season, increase to three times per day if you feel flu or a cold coming on.

In the fridge this should last 3-4 months only so I reccommend actually making a large batch (4x cups of Elderberries makes around 3 standard jam / honey jars with some leftover) and freezing the rest to keep aside for closer to December onwards.

One good idea I have seen is to pour them into ice trays for freezing, you can then remove a few cubes for your own use anytime between or before December!

elderberry syrup

Elderberry ‘Sambucus nigra’ Syrup, medicinal recipe