Category Archives: Plant Swaps

Wormwood Rescue

When the council next comes to strim weeds in my street, these lovely Wormwood babies would be lost, so this afternoon I whipped lots of them out of the ground, to save them in plant pots.

I grow a vigorous and useful Wormwood plant in our super-dry geveltuin. I wrote about it recently, when I had to harvest lots of its growth to prevent damage by builders.

Since then I’ve been noticing its seedlings all down the street! The recent weather seems to have helped them to thrive in the road gutter, treepits and pavement cracks.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a herb which gives Absinthe its flavour, works internally and externally as a natural pesticide (think intestinal parasites, plant pests, malaria etc) and can help with several digestive disorders including indigestion, gut spasms and lost appetite. Wormwood contains a mind altering, dangerous chemical which shouldn’t be consumed in quantity. It increases the likelyhood of a person having brain seizures, gives Absinthe it’s flavour, increases creativity and is the reason for Absinthe’s prohibition in some non-European countries. Wormwood is a rare plant in The Netherlands. It can be eaten very sparingly, in salads or cooked food. It is easily vinegared, tinctured, dried, infused in oil and more. Wormwood is the most potent member of the Artemisia family and needs to be treated with great respect. If you’d rather not consume the herb, be aware that it is associated with magical properties related to love and protection and I think it smells very pleasant when dried or fresh. I also find it very beautiful and love seeing it’s shimmering silver-grey foliage outside of my home.

If you would like one of these easy to grow Wormwood babies, please contact me. Bring me a clean small plant container with a little soil and you are welcome to have one or, for a Euro, you can buy one from me that is already potted-up.

I find that the plant grows best in well drained, sandy soil and a good sunny location. I grew it on a north facing balcony for a few years and it did fine but it revealed itself as a real goddess, when I planted it in the south facing pavement garden. I have uprooted only the seedlings that would have been strimmed, about ten more continue to grace the plant pots and tree pits of my neighbours.

Herb plant and seed swap – Thank you!

Thank you to those who came along to Sarphati Park today to swap herbs, share ideas and give advice.  We were six in all.  Here you can see Michael and Andy mulling over the merits of an Aloe vera baby.

I was able to swap my surplus plants for some unusual seeds and a couple of plants which I didn’t already have at home.  After the swaps were done we wandered over the Centuurbaan to look at the pretty herb garden which is wrapped around a church and then onward for a swift biertje near the market.   The photo of the wrap around herb garden doesn’t do the place justice at all.  It is very sweet, has a great selection of plants and most seem to be well labelled.  The church is called Oranjekerk and the herb garden is known as a Bible garden. It is on the corner of 2e Van der Helststraat and it’s very hard to miss. Here’s a link to the churches web page about the garden.  It’s in Dutch but I think the photos speak for themselves.

So all in all a very pleasant lunchtime – thank you!

Herbs ready for adoption

I’m looking forward to the Urban Herbology plant and seed swap tomorrow, at 11am by the monument in Sarphati Park, Amsterdam. This morning, I have been preparing a few plants for adoption on the roof.

My Aloe pot was overcrowded by off shoots, Yarrow was taking over in the Valerian/Sedum/Lemon balm pot and strawberries were popping up in the middle of a beautiful Ladies mantle.  Here’s a photo of the Aloe vera babies and the Mama Aloe.  She will be staying here but her not-so-little ones, two pots of red flowering Yarrow (Achillea millefolium,  Nose bleed) and a strawberry will be there with me and my lunch.

It should be beautiful weather again tomorrow – I hope to see you in the park!

UrbanHerbology Plant & Seed Swap – Wednesday 20th April

It’s time for the first Urban Herbology Plant & Seed swap!

Where: Sarphati Park, Amsterdam.  Meeting by the Sarphati monument.

When: 11:00, Wednesday 20th April – we’ll be there for about an hour. When the swaps are done we’ll walk over to the park’s own swap centre, near the children’s playground, to have a look at what’s on offer there and then eat some lunch.

This is for: Urban Herbies who would like to make space on their balconies/windowsills/roof terraces for some different herbs.  And those who have nothing to swap but want to bulk up their plant stocks. And for those who just want to come along and say hello!

Please bring along: Herbs. Healthy herb plants or viable herb seeds which you would like to swap or give away*.  Herb plants should be in some sort of pot with enough soil and roots to support them.  Ideally they should be labelled in some way.  Herb seeds should be in a labelled dry paper packet such as a small sealed envelope or tightly folded paper.
I’ll probably stay there for lunch so if you like, bring some sandwiches…

Please don’t bring along: Anything toxic, illegal, unhealthy, non-herb, unknown or dug up from the wild.

*I suggest a small charge of €0.50 per pot/seed packet as an alternative to swapping.  Let’s try to do direct swaps between individuals but if this doesn’t suit then the €0.50 should help to make things fair.  Any better ideas are very welcome and in future, if the event becomes popular, I’ll organise a simple registration and voucher system.

I think I shall bring along some baby Aloe vera plants, some yarrow, mint and maybe strawberries and Lady’s mantle.  Lots of other things could do with thinning out in my pots so if you are coming along and want something in particular please let me know.

Seeds For Food

There’s an interesting little article in the spring 2011 issue of Permaculture Magazine about the Seeds For Food project.  It aims to provide saved fruit and vegetable seeds to hungry people in developing nations.   The idea for the project arose in Saharawi refugee camps, in South-East Algeria, where there is a desperate need for fresh food and yet limited resources to purchase seed.  You are invited to save the seeds from fruit, vegetables and herbs which you already eat (simply collect, rinse and air dry them) and then post them to the following address:

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
Beeweg 36
B-9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgique)

They will be used to help families grow their own food.  This seems to be an excellent initiative, I shall certainly be collecting and sending seeds to Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem from now on.  He began the project after working as a UNICEF advisor at sub-Saharan refugee camps and learning how unaffordable fruit and vegetable seeds are to these needy people.