The Voice ‐ September 2017
Comment by Geoff
There has been a resurgence of the idea to make London a National Park City which apparently, is a first. See London National Park City?
Should those who initiated the idea place more emphasis on what could be achieved instead of highlighting the unachievable, we could all go forward together. If all councils really made the environment a better place to live in and improved planting regimes, as is done in other cities, it would be a great step forward.
London currently has considerable air pollution and there are many ways in which we could work as one to alleviate this situation. Perhaps now is the time for some rationality in the process.
How to Grow Dandelion Greens
Dandelions are delicious, versatile and loaded with vitamins, minerals and medicinal properties. There are almost one hundred different species of dandelions and you can buy seeds and cultivate the plants that deliver the taste and benefits you want. Nontoxic strategies to remove dandelions help to protect the environment and your tap water quality. Use white vinegar and salt water spray to remove the dandelion taproot but stay vigilant before the flower goes to seed.
Dandelion greens are nutritious and can be added to salads, soups and stews or sautéed and served as a side dish. What you may have only thought of as a pesky weed in your garden is a flowering herb with significant health benefits. The dandelion plant belongs to the largest plant family known as the Asteraceae or sunflower family, which includes more than 22,000 species, such as daisies and thistles. All the different species of the dandelion are beneficial to your health and every part can be used, from the roots to the leaves and flowers. See here for the full article. Back to top
Fat Hen Chenopodium Album
This native summer annual is found throughout the UK on cultivated and wasteland. It can quickly colonise a growing area and a single plant can produce 20,000 seeds.
The young plant grows upright, reaching heights of 10 to 150 cm, but typically falls over due to the due to the weight of the foliage and seeds. The first leaves, near the base of the plant, are toothed and roughly diamond‐shaped, 3 to 7 cm long, but those on the upper part of the flowering stems are narrower and oval, with a whitish coat on the underside. Fat Hen flowers from July to September. It is wind pollinated and the flowers may be cross or self‐pollinated. Seeds are produced in abundance but mature relatively late in the season.
The plant produces several different types of seed; most are black and hard coated, but a small number are brown with thinner, smooth seed coats. The latter germinate more readily whilst the former persist longer in the soil.
Fat Hen was eaten as a vegetable from Neolithic times until the 16th century when it was replaced by spinach and cabbage. Rich in vitamin C, it is still grown and eaten in North India. The seeds can be ground into flour, and it was grown as food for pigs, sheep and hens. The leaves are a source of ascaridole which is an oil used to treat infestations of round worms and hook worms.
Fat Hen grows as a prolific plant in most areas of London. Back to top
London National Park City?
It’s a fascinating concept and a wonderful notion to make London a National Park since it would have a revered status which should not be diminished in any way. Who knows what the knock‐on effect would be if rules and laws were re-written to afford London to be a National Park.
Presently the rules, laws and guidelines for National Parks are rigorous, therefore making London ineligible to be a National Park, so who is going to re‐write the rules? The positive aspect of making London a wonderful place for nature is excellent and one which should be supported but to have an organisation in control of London’s urban landscape fills one with horror.
Apple Donor Campaign
This is the time of year when the fruits will fall but most people allow their edible produce to rot. Many people long ago looked forward to the Autumn as a time of plenty. However, nowadays it seems a lot easier to purchase what you need from outlets, at a price. Alternatively, you can offer your produce to establishments that are willing to turn it into a product.
The East London Garden Society has been asked to be a donor station for Hawkes Cider in Bermondsey, so your apples can be put to good effect.
See here for further information on the Apple Donor Campaign.
Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Fat Hen Pesto Bake
Fat Hen Chenopodium album makes a delicious green vegetable. In this recipe, Marion Turnbull, has created a simple light Fat Hen recipe that works well either as a main course or as a mezze.
- 3 Medium courgettes, sliced.
- 6 Medium tomatoes, sliced.
- 50g of breadcrumbs.
- 50g of cheddar cheese.
- 100g of Fat Hen.
- 50g of pine nuts (or any nut of your choice).
- 100ml of olive oil.
- Salt and pepper
Method: To make the pesto, blend the Fat Hen and pine nuts until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and blend again with the salt and pepper, until a consistency of your choice.
Layer the sliced courgettes and tomatoes in an ovenproof dish. Smear the pesto on top of the courgettes and tomatoes. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and cheese before baking in an oven at 190C or Gas Mark 5 for 40 minutes.
If you don’t use all the pesto, refrigerate the remainder in a jar covered in oil and use within one week on items such as jacket potatoes, pasta etc. Back to top