Tag Archives: calendula

365 Frankendael day 261

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I thought that this is Malva sylvestris, Common Mallow though it more likely could be a stunted Lavatera arborea (must look at it again this week), growing in one of my neighbour’s roadside planters. This plant seems to offer flowers all year long! The whole plant is edible and soothingly medicinal – if it’s Malva. If it’s a Lavatera then the leaves and flowers are also edible though the medicinal qualities are far less than Mallow.

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I believe that this is Slender Speedwell (Veronica filiformis). Its a pretty little plant with forget-me-not style flowers, which is edible and medicinal. The ladybirds were having a field day on it, munching through aphids, not yet killed off by cold weather. Here’s a useful and inspiring blog post about Speedwells, which may be of interest.

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And here is one of the easiest and most useful herbs to grow in Amsterdam. Calendula officinalis. You can save the seeds and they’ll reward you handsomely next season, add the flowers to cooking pots (it’s called a pot herb for this reason) for colour and bitterness, make healing oils, ointments, lotions, lip balms, dyes, soaks etc from the leaves and flowers. It’s a magical plant. Here it is still flowering along my street, in another neighbour’s pavement garden pot. If you’d like something very simple to grow and safe (well, within reason of course) then I’d go for Calendula.

365 Frankendael day 207

Today a damp walk around and lots of edibles still easily harvested in Amsterdam.

The first is a treepit loaded with Nasturtium and Calendula.

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Next, a healthy looking patch of Stinging Nettle, beside the park.

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A bonsai style Hogweed (most likely the non-edible type). It looks as though this one was determined to proliferate, despite repeated mowings in Park Frankendael.

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Here’s a little Chickweed, growing under the playground railings.

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Malva, nestled beside a landscaping rock, alongside Restaurant de Kas.

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Ground ivy, beside another such rock.

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And lastly, one of the most plentiful wild food trees in town, Copper Beech, definitely not looking tasty at the moment – well past it’s best. I’ll have to wait until spring to harvest the delicate new leaf buds, again. But there are plenty other tasty things available, all through the winter.

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Seed Saving for River of Herbs

This morning we were able to eat breakfast on the roof because the weather was so beautiful. After quite a while, when the morning dew had thoroughly dried off the plants, I set about some herb seed collecting with my toddler daughter. Here she is doing a very good job of rubbing dry Chive heads, to release the tiny black seeds into a paper bag. She loved it and we collected lots of seeds in a very short time.

Seeds are usually the cheapest way to make new plants and we will need lots of seeds to make a River of Herbs in and around Amsterdam. So if you are interested in; building up your own herb seed supply, adding more herbs to urban spaces or simply to eat some edible herb seeds – now is a good time to start collecting! I intend to make up little mixed herb seed packets, to sprinkle in prepared Urban Herb Meadow locations.

Different plants flower and seed at different times so keep your eyes open for maturing seed heads on plants you know and keep a clean paper bag or two in your pocket/ bag when you are out and about. You never know when a perfectly ripe Hollyhock seedhead may surprise you!

Today we collected seeds from:
Chives
Borage
Welsh Onion
Calendula
Valerian

I’m off to the park now and hope to find some Garlic mustard seed to save in labelled paper bags. I love eating the leaves of the plant and would like to see it growing in some Urban Herb Meadows in town.

If you decide to collect seed, make sure you only collect when they are bone dry. They will mould and be useless if they are at all damp. With some seeds it’s easiest to shake the seed head into your bag, allowing the ripe dry seeds to fall into the bag. With others, it’s best to snip off part or all of the seed head with scissors, before sorting it out. Generally if it needs snipping off the plant, its not thoroughly dried out but use your judgement. Get them home in a paper bag and then take osome time to pick through and separate out the seeds from debris. Label the seed bags, seal them up and set aside in a p,ace where they will remain fairly cool and very dry until the planting season.

If you want to help with the River of Herbs then also consider the suitability of what you are saving from the project. Plants need to be non invasive (e.g. Mint wouldn’t be such a good idea unless in a hole-free container where it can’t easily escape, Japanese knotweed is clearly a no no as it comketely takes over/ obliterates wherever it grows) and not poisonous. The plants also need to be insect pollinated as one of the main points of the project is to provide insect friendly corridors in and around the city.

I think it unlikely that on your seed saving missions you’d remove all the seed from a plant but just in case it needs mentioning – remember the foraging rules, take only what you need, leave lots and lots! Also, please don’t harvest seed from annuals and biennials growing wild as they rely on them to regenerate next year. The Garlic mustard I am about to collect is a biennial but I’ll take it from locations where it will be completely strimmed away very soon – such as lamp post bases in concrete.

Good places to collect herb seed, from plants you have already identified are:
Your own pots, tubs and garden,
Untended geveltuinen (pavement gardens),
Public places where the council are sure to mow or strim

Good luck with your seed collecting and do let me know how you get on.