Tag Archives: Wild rocket

365 Frankendael day 148

I had a great time today, taking two group on street herb walks, from the OTOPIA festival on the Overtoom. We found lots of herbs in pavement cracks, in intended pavement gardens, tended ones and in curbs. A few plants were around which I didn’t know the names of. Here they are:

Heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis) was creeping around a large grassland area halfway up Willeminastraat and Eerste Helmersstraat.
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Gallant soldier (Galinsoga parviflora).
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The plant that looked like Fat Hen (Chenopodium album) but had so many flowers on some examples that it was hard to tell, definitely was edible Fat Hen.

I didn’t take a photo of the Fat Hen today but here’s one of poisonous
Black nightshade. We found heaps of it on today’s walks.

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The Wild Rocket that was growing at the entrance of OT301 appears to be the perennial species so I hope Cathy will be in luck with the sample she took home.
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The nettle which the second group found, which wasn’t the regular Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) was Small nettle, an annual, as suspected and both edible and medicinal.

There were two others which I’m still looking up. Will post an update, when I find the names. Here they are, maybe you can help me out with the names?
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Thanks to everyone who joined the walks and thank you to Femke and Tarje for organising today’s festival and inviting me to take part in this way.

365 Frankendael day 139

Today, a quick list of 16 edible or medicinal plants, currently in season in Amsterdam. Here they are, photographed in Park Frankendael this morning:

Silverweed – edible, all parts.

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Jerusalem artichoke – invasive, very tasty. Heaps of it at the back of the closest flower meadow to Frankendael huis (behind the house). Cook the roots with winter savoury – it helps eliminate the intestinal gas which these vegetables are infamous for producing.

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Dandelion, Stinging nettle and Chickweed. All three are edible, nourishing tonic herbs. Can be eaten safely in fairly copious amounts but just a leaf our two, or a handful of Chickweed, will really boost a meal.

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Rosehips, in abundance. They could be made into syrup now but if the birds leave them alone, I’d wait another few weeks. Medicinal due to high vitamin c levels in particular and other immune boosting constituents. Interesting added to stews etc also.

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False, but edible, look-a-like strawberries of a Potentilla.

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Sweetcorn and Sunflowers, growing alongside the Middenweg. I’ve seen quite a few wild Sweetcorn plants lately. Maybe sometimes been sewing the seed as they walk the streets? Not likely that either of these plants will be left, strimmer free, long enough to flower or seed, but what fun that would be if it happened.

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Japanese knotweed, rhubarb like, super sour edible and terribly invasive plant. Search this site and others for how to cook it.
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Marshmallow (yes, it’s the original sweet namesake). I simply collected a thousand seeds or so from this plant today. It’s so easy to grow in town and so useful as a soothing medicinal and as a food – think gooey egg substitute.

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Not so easy to see – though what a pretty woodland view – Ground elder and Wild geranium.

Garlic mustard, edible – very! – but only pick one leaf per plant at this time of year. They need to build up energy reserves to survive the winter. You’ll hopefully be rewarded with tall healthy leaf and flower rich plants next year.
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Wild rocket. Rucola in Dutch. A heap this size would be sold for a small fortune in Albert Heijn. It will taste extra strong and be a bit woody at the moment due to flowering but still useful and very peppery. Maybe collect a seed pod or two and sprinkle them in a price of underused safe land near your home.

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Greater celandine. NOT edible! Poisonous orange sap, but that sap is very useful as a topical treatment for warts and some other skin spots.

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Lastly the mystery Nut Tree that several people sent me photos of whilst I was on holiday. I still don’t know the name or whether it if edible our not. But I now know it’s sticky and I think it is setting fruit rather than nuts at the moment. Will keep am eye on it as they develop.
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Warmth

Amsterdam is currently enjoying a warm start to October so it feels a little odd to be thinking about protecting herbs from frost damage but this weekend we removed the drip trays from the roof pots and had a look to see how much fresh produce might be expected over winter.

I’ve built up a collection of potted herbs on our roof and balcony, which can happily withstand Amsterdam winters. Herbs which don’t survive are not replaced and just a few are brought inside before the frosts.  Some survive by self-seeding, others are winter hardy evergreens and perennials. Water trays are removed in early autumn and a couple of pots are moved to more sheltered spots.  I don’t bother with insulation and only harvest lightly through the coldest months.  An occasional plant is lost when temperatures really plummet but overall this relaxed approach makes potted herb gardening much easier and cheaper.  Finding self-seeders such as nigella, rocket, borage and calendula in interesting places when spring arrives, is a pleasure that it also brings.

wild rocket leaves

Wild rocket (Diplotaxis muralis) is one of the few herbs I harvest in quantity from the roof come mid winter and it can still be sown from seed in October.  It tastes stronger, even more peppery, in winter and  I really like the warmth it adds to dishes.  Wild rocket self-seeds quite readily and is a hardy perennial.  Although at its best in summer, it goes on producing vitamin and sulphur rich leaves throughout the winter months.  After Patrick Whitefield recommended it during a 5 day permaculture course, I sewed a handful of seeds amongst other herbs and have had plenty to pick from ever since.

My friend Elodie uses wild rocket from sand dunes in summer, to make a great pesto.  I often use the leaves in salads and, at the very end of cooking, tear them into root vegetable soups.  I’d like to grow more herbs that can be eaten fresh throughout winter and would love to hear about any successes or suggestions you have.