It has been a busy week, with the hot, dry weather continuing and more water channels needing to be dug to ensure that we can successfully irrigate Aponia, our forest garden and old site of our Market Garden Research. In the home garden, the pathways by the beds double up as water channels, with native herbaceous plants growing alongside the edges of the beds and pathways. These plants are a valuable source of biomass and we mow them every 2 weeks, collecting the valuable clippings as mulch. This week, we needed to trim back some young Black Locust – Robinia pseudoacacia plants that were encroaching too far into the pathway and blocking access. The trimmings from these plants were left on the pathway for the lawnmower to shred and collect whilst also cutting the herbaceous growth. This added a nice supplement of Robinia leaves to the clippings.
|Pathway/water channel between two garden beds. On the left, Zeno, our annual productive polyculture and on the right, Robinia plants freshly trimmed back to clear access|
|Robinia clippings fell onto the pathway and were left there to be mown with the herbaceous growth|
|The end product is a mix of nitrogen rich clippings that are perfect to use as immediate mulch on beds or in plant pots|
We recently cut back the Lovage – Levisticum officinale as it has just finished flowering and it generally starts to topple over and obstruct access. A few days later and the plants underneath in the ground and herb layers have really started to take advantage of the light levels now available to them.
|Bottom left – Turkish Sage – Phlomis russeliana|
|Markus, Tara and Ruhsar pouring and shovelling in the small stones and gravel|
|Just a little lime plaster to add and stage one is completed. We’ll be returning to Jo’s to start building the wall in a couple of weeks|
Outside, Jo has started to sculpt a cat on the wall by the porch entrance and ESC volunteer Ruxandra finished the project creating a beautiful cat and a wonderful eulogy for a much loved kitten lost this week to a virus.
|Ode to Moon, by the very talented Ruxandra. You can check out more of Rux’s incredibe work here. She also makes commissioned pieces.|
Part of our ESC project is to explore the medicinal qualities of local herbs and plants and experiment with making homemade remedies. We have been infusing oils over the last month ready to make some ointments. To make a herb infused oil, all you have to do is harvest the part of the plant that you would like to use early in the day, and leave it to dry out of direct sunlight for 24 hours. This usually reduces the water content sufficiently to prevent water leaching into the oil and spoiling it. Then place your plant into a jam jar, cover with olive oil and leave on a sunny windowsill to infuse over the next month, shaking occasionally and finally straining into a clean jar and labelling.
Using our infused oils, some essential oils and high quality Bulgarian beeswax, we created an ointment using Comfrey and Elder leaf to help with bruising, and a Chamomile and Yarrow one for bites that Rux aptly named, ‘Ditch the Itch’ :)
We’ve been trying out different tea blends too, and will be introducing our first blend, complete with branding, in the coming weeks. One of the main components are the flowers from the Linden tree – Tilia spp. which actually came into flower almost a whole month later than usual this year.
Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees or bushes, native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. More commonly referred to as Linden or Lime, this tree is not to be confused with Citrus medica, the tree that produces actual lime fruits. Tilia cordata – Small Leaved Lime and Tilia platyphyllos – Large Leaved Lime are probably the most well known in Europe, although it can be difficult to differentiate between them sometimes as they tend to hybridize, resulting in Tilia vulgaris – Common Lime. Both trees and the hybridized form have edible leaves, in addition to producing a flower that is much valued as a herbal tea.