The East London Garden Society

The Voice ‐ June 2019

Comment by Geoff

Geoff Juden

Recently I visited areas on the east coast of Scotland. What a difference in how the gardens in that area are maintained compared with some areas in east London.

To work with nature in all its forms you need the right mind set in order to move forward. As I have said many a time, “There is a garden in all of our minds, but it is the way we interpret it that counts”.

Is it too late?

So completely explained in 1972. If only we had all learnt from the Thneed (The End) and the prophetic words of Dr Seuss. Is it too late?

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What is a Food Forest?

Food Forest

Forests are ecosystems with a diversity of plants, animals, and fungi. They were designed by nature to provide a perfect balance. A food forest is a version of this in which the different, balanced components produce food. When we understand how nature creates its ecosystem, we can model that with productive species to produce food sustainably, with minimum inputs for maximum outputs.

Forests have seven layers. At the top is the canopy layer followed by understory trees, bushes and shrubs down to herbaceous layers. Under the ground, there are root yields and at the surface, there are groundcovers. There are also vertical layers of climbers. These layers work to occupy all the space. In designing a food forest, we use these layers to work for our benefit.

See What is a Food Forest? for the full article. Back to top

The Footpath

The Footpath

Newham Council allowed land to be sold where the River Lea meets the River Thames and a provision was made that the footpath alongside The River Lea would be kept open for public access.

Lo and behold the land was purchased but the new owners installed a fence to block off the footpath, so there is no more public access. How thoughtless can landowners be?

Add your support to the petition so get this footpath opened to the public again. Back to top

The Zoo Beneath Our Feet

The Zoo Beneath Our Feet

The gardener has a long and touchy‐feely relationship with the soil. As every good cultivator knows, you assess the earth by holding it. Is it dark and crumbly, is there an earthworm or beetle in there, is it moist, and when you smell it, are you getting that pleasant earthy aroma?

All these signs are reassuring, and have been through the ages, but they are mere indicators of something much greater and infinitely mysterious: a hidden universe beneath our feet.

See The Zoo Beneath Our Feet for the full article. Back to top


Why do people feel compelled to put chili peppers in their mouth?

They say about one‐third of the people around the world eat hot peppers every single day. More than half of the American population (54 percent) find hot or spicy foods appealing. These hot peppers have nutritional benefits such as increasing the quality of sleep and help us get to sleep easier. They also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but most importantly, they help lower the kind of internal inflammation that results from arthritis and diabetes.

Recent research tells us that hot chili peppers are an up‐and‐coming health power. A laboratory study in the United Kingdom found that capsaicin, which is responsible for the burning sensation chilies provide, can kill lung and pancreatic cancer cells without harming the surrounding cells. Researchers believe this may explain why people living in Mexico and India who eat a spicy diet tend to have lower rates of some cancers than those eating a bland Western diet.

Peppers taste hot because of a chemical called capsaicin that causes our nerve cells to react as if they have been burned, though without doing any actual damage.

Peppers are fruits, not vegetables. The heat and pain you experience when you eat chili pepper seeds is designed to make you not want to eat them ‐ hence protecting the plant’s ability to spread seeds and survive.

It is believed that humans are the only animal that chooses to willingly eat them. Perhaps our bodies have learned to tolerate and even crave chili the heat of peppers because of their many proven benefits to our health.

Peppers are used in pain‐relieving creams and patches, some of which contain the equivalent of ten million SHU (Scoville Heat Unit ‐ a measurement of hotness or spiciness in food). It is the very intense burning sensation that ultimately relieves pain.

The seeds of chili peppers are not the hottest part of peppers. It is at the point where the seed is attached to the white membrane inside the pepper that the highest concentration of capsaicin is found. Back to top

Greenery Project

Greenery Project

Located in a business park GBL Studios & Starlane Pizza Bar are surrounded by lots of grey, so they would like to do their part in bringing some greenery to the area. By creating much needed colour and vitality, improving air quality and smell, as well as supporting increased wildlife such as bees, they believe that their greenery project will improve the wellbeing of their tenants and also those passing by. The need for this is especially important in urban and industrial environments.

They see this latest venture as part of their own outlook on giving back and improving the areas in which we live and work, from the basics of recycling to actively taking part in community events such as collecting rubbish and planting new trees.

If we all make an effort individually then collectively, we can make a positive impact on the world and we hope that their greenery project will inspire other local businesses in the area to do the same for the benefit of everyone. Back to top

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Grilled Knotweed with Fish Mayonnaise

Is Japanese knotweed taking over your garden? Instead of fighting the invasive weed, why not learn to love it by harnessing its edible use in this tasty Japanese knotweed recipe.

The hollow stems of Japanese knotweed are tart, crunchy and juicy and a fun kitchen ingredient with which to work. They taste rather like rhubarb and can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking and enjoyed both raw and cooked.


  • 10 tops of Japanese knotweed (or sand onion)
  • 200 grams of flatfish or cod roe
  • 400 ml of flavour-neutral oil (such as grape seed)
  • 2 teaspoons of mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon

Japanese knotweed Start by making the fish mayonnaise. Put the raw roe in a bowl and whisk until the structure is broken.

Add a little oil and whisk intensely until the two liquids bind together completely. When that happens, you can slowly add more of the oil. If you add too much oil at once, the mayonnaise will curdle. When you have a firm consistency, it is ready. (You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the mayonnaise falling out.)

Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and mustard. Keep the mayonnaise in a cool place until serving. Rinse the knotweed and cut into pieces of around 20cm.

Grill for a couple of minutes. Arrange on a dish and serve with the fish mayonnaise on the side. Back to top



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