The East London Garden Society

The Voice ‐ March 2020

Comment by Geoff

Geoff Juden

We have held a meeting to explain The East London Garden Society's vision of having a more representative garden stretching from Shoreditch to Newham. See Forest Garden Bee School for details.

It has taken a long time to reach this stage of the initiative which would alter the environment for the better and would fulfil one of our main aims.

If you value having someone campaign on your behalf to protect the environment and having access to useful articles about gardening and local environmental matters, please make a donation to help us with the cost of maintaining The East London Garden Society.

Wild Lettuce

Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce is a tall, leafy plant with small, yellow buds commonly found in gardens across North America and England. Also known as Lactuca Virosa, opium lettuce, or bitter lettuce, this medicinal plant has long been used in folk medicine as a substitute to opium, hence its name opium lettuce.

While it has been used for centuries, it was in the 1970s that it started to gain significant popularity, both for pain relief and recreational purposes. Opium lettuce’s pain‐relieving and sedative effects come from the white substance, called lactucarium, found in the stem and leaves.

Just like morphine, compounds in the milky substance act directly on the central nervous system to lessen the feeling of pain. Unlike its name may suggest, the plant doesn’t contain any opiates and is legal.

Natural remedy for pain relief
Patients with Epstein‐Barr Virus, Fibromyalgia, nerve injury, surgical pain, and inflammation could all benefit from making the switch to this natural remedy.

As reported by Ask A Prepper, next to its pain‐relieving properties, this medicinal plant also works wonders in the treatment of coughs, insomnia, and anxiety. Migraine sufferers claim that they experience fewer migraine attacks when they use wild lettuce.

Furthermore, it can be very beneficial for asthma patients since opiate medications can cause more asthma episodes when they go through opiate withdrawal. The use of opium lettuce instead of opiate drugs could give the same results while keeping withdrawal symptoms and additional asthma attacks at bay.

Many different ways to consume the plant
There are many ways to consume the plant to reap its pain‐relieving benefits. In the old days, people used to steep the dried leaves and stems to form herbal tea, or cook the plant in water with a sugar mix until a syrup‐like substance is left. While tea remains popular today, because of its bitter taste, many people are also using the dried leaves and stems for smoking or vaporizing.

If you are not living in a place where this medicinal plant grows in the wild and are in pain, you shouldn’t miss out on its pain‐relieving benefits. You can purchase wild lettuce as a dried herb, extract or resin. Back to top

How to Care for Orchids

Moth Orchid

Moth orchids thrive in centrally heated homes and flower over a long period. They are available in an increasingly wide range of flower colours, and newer dwarf varieties mean you can fit a moth orchid in almost any home.

The popularity of moth orchids has led to other types of orchids becoming more readily available in garden centres, including Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum, Oncidium, Vanda and Cambria hybrids. These are all easy to grow in most homes, producing dramatic displays of exotic blooms.

Overwatering is the most common way to kill orchids. To avoid giving your plant too much water, always lift the pot first to check if it feels heavy. Only water if it feels light. If your moth orchid is in a transparent pot, look at the roots. Don’t water if these are green; instead, wait until they look silvery. Feed with orchid fertiliser from spring until autumn.

Place orchids where they will receive bright but indirect light. An east or west‐facing windowsill is perfect. Too much light can scorch the leaves, causing damage that will last for many years. If your orchid gets scorched, do not detach the damaged leaves unless the plant has several additional healthy leaves.

Most indoor orchids come from humid, tropical regions, so these plants appreciate a humid atmosphere. In most centrally heated homes the air is dry, so mist the foliage every two to three days using tepid water but avoid spraying the flowers, as the petals can be marked by water. Alternatively, stand the pot on a tray of damp gravel.

With moth orchids, once all the flowers have fallen, cut off the stem just above a visible joint. This may stimulate the production of another flower stem, which you should clip to a support. If no shoot appears and the original stem turns straw‐coloured, then remove it at the base. Most other orchids won’t flower twice on the same stem, so cut off spent stems immediately.

Unlike most other pot plants, orchids do not need regular re‐potting and often thrive when root bound. However, after two or three years it is worth taking them out of their pots and removing as much of the compost as possible. Replant in the same pot with fresh orchid compost or choose a slightly larger pot if the plant will not fit.

The most common orchid pests are scale insects and mealy bugs. Signs of infestation include stickiness on the leaves or nearby surfaces, or black sooty mould. Scale insects can be found on the leaf surfaces and flower stalks, whilst mealy bugs prefer new leaves.

It is easy to remove pests by hand, using a soapy sponge to clean the leaves. Always keep the plant label, as different types of orchid need slightly different care. For example, showy Vanda orchids ‐ which are often grown in glass vases without compost ‐ require a specific watering regime. Fill the vase with water daily during the Summer and empty it after half an hour. Vandas also need direct sunlight, which would scorch a moth orchid. Back to top

Liverpool Street Station Forest

Liverpool Street Station forest

A plan to create a forest inside Liverpool Street Station for one-month during September 2020, maybe a plan too much.

If Liverpool Street Station wishes to create a permanent forest, it would be supported by many since other buildings of similar standing have had such a makeover. However, it seems dishonest to make such a grand gesture and then uproot it, although the plan is to replant the trees and plants in Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets at the end of the project.

Before embarking on such a project, it would have been good to engage with the local community and perhaps speak with the local authority to think through the logic. The East London Garden Society has grave concerns that many of the 7,000 plants could perish when moved, so considers this is not a well‐thought through idea.

The people behind this scheme need to have a serious re‐think. It took a long time for The Garden Bridge to have such a re‐think, and that project has now been abandoned. The group behind this project are requesting that the public pay for this temporary forest in Liverpool Street Station through Spacehive.

Of course, you may have a different view and it will be interesting to see if the general public are sufficiently behind it to stump up the £170,511 required to implement with the project. Back to top

Food Waste Recycling

Food Waste

The East London Garden Society has been asked to be part of a wider project in Tower Hamlets on the awareness of Food Waste Recycling, in other words food composting.

The idea is to establish a procedure, either with worms, blackflies or using humidity to rot the food waste into an easily usable compost material, whereby it may be spread widely in the local area thus reducing the carbon footprint of the community.

Wave 3 of the Love Food Hate Waste: Spoiled Rotten Campaign has been launched and will run throughout February and March. Love Food Hate Waste is encouraging 18 to 34‐year‐olds, couples, young families and students to Eat what You Buy and using up the food that you have.

Research shows there are three key behaviours that are most responsible for food waste in the UK today:

  • We buy too much, so only buy what you need
  • Our food goes off because we don’t store it correctly, so store food properly
  • We throw away food we buy and do not eat it, so eat what you buy

You can become involved by featuring Spoiled Rotten on your social media and other communication channels to encourage friends and family to take part in the Spoiled Rotten Campaign.

If you’re running, or planning to run, any Love Food Hate Waste engagement campaigns, they would love to hear about them since they are keen to gather case studies on how these are working out.

Email: to find out more. Back to top

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Cheesy Leeks Dish


  • 4 slender trimmed leeks (approx. 575g in weight)
  • 20g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 20g plain flour
  • 200ml milk (semi‐skimmed or full fat)
  • 1 teaspoon of English or Dijon mustard
  • 100g of finely grated mature cheddar cheese, (or other cheese of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons of dried white breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cheesy Leeks

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7 and Lightly butter a shallow baking dish. (It will need to hold 1 litre)
  • Fill a medium saucepan a third full of water and bring to the boil.
  • Remove any tough or damaged leaves from the outside of the leeks if not already done. Trim the leeks, leaving all of the white part and some of the green.
  • Cut the leeks into approximately 3cm pieces and add to the water. Return to the boil and, depending on the thickness, cook for five minutes, or until the leeks are tender. They are ready when the tip of a knife slides in easily.
  • Drain in a colander over a large mixing bowl to reserve the cooking water.
  • To make the sauce, return the empty pan to the heat, add the butter and melt gently.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for 10 to 15 seconds whilst stirring.
  • Gradually add the milk and then add approximately 100ml of the reserved cooking liquid, stirring or whisking well between each addition to make a smooth, creamy sauce.
  • Add the mustard, half the cheese and season generously with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Scatter the leeks into the baking dish and pour the sauce on top. Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.

If you prefer, you can save time by grilling the cheesy leeks instead of baking. Warm the baking dish before adding the leeks and sauce.

The basic leek and cheese sauce can also be used as a filling for jacket potatoes or stirred through freshly cooked pasta, topped with sliced tomatoes and grilled until golden. Back to top



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