Wild Flower Meadow 12/04/2013
I picked up a sample pack of wild flower seeds at a recent event. I decided to use the filled in fire pit from last summer as my site. I’ve also got into foraging for long bendy stems from the hedgerows around here to make obelisks (more in another post) and weaved fences for my vegetable patch. Now London does not have so many hedgerows, but there are country parks within London and one could probably find stems in local parks, which are spread throughout the capital.
I used the following method to construct this fence. I created it to keep the rabbits and Muntjacs out. The sticks in the middle are to keep the very fat pigeons from eating the seed before germination.
I put sturdy sticks into the ground at about 1/2 foot distances. The key is to ensure that the sticks can fit round the posts. If they are too tight then the sticks (unless very bendy e.g. willow) will snap. If too far apart you won’t get a tight fence that will last very long. So it is a bit of trial and error but this fence is actually my third one after surrounding two veg patches.
Once the posts are in you start laying the sticks. Place a stick horizontally behind a stick and then the stick will go round the outside of the next one along, and then inside the one after that until the whole stick is laid.
It is also possible to inter-weave two sticks together whilst going round two, but for a fence I’m not sure this is needed. I used this approach when making a willow obelisk.
So my suggestion for weaving a fence is after you’ve laid a stick. Go back to the beginning and lay a stick on top, but start from the other side of the post. So if you started on the inside, then start from the outside. After this I then picked up close to where the previous stick had ended and carried on until the fence was high enough to deter my rabbits and Muntjacs.
I finished off by putting sticks into the middle to deter the pigeons.
Update June 2013:
I thought I’d update this post with a couple of pictures showing the meadow 1 1/2 months later.
Wild Garlic (Ramson) Pesto 11/04/2013
I made wild garlic pesto last year (well I thought I did and didn’t post a picture or the recipe). It turns out I picked loads of wild garlic last year, left it and then the missus rescued some of it before it all went off. The end result was great, and the caterer for our wedding wants to use it, but needs more.
So off we went back to London and the patch I found last year to collect more. The carpet of wild garlic in this suburban monument to consumerism is immense. No-one else seems to know what it is, or has chosen not to pick it as it resides next to a public footpath.
We picked two bags (1.5kg) and made some pesto. There are loads of recipes on the internet.
I recommend the following:
Wild garlic (briefly blanch in boiling water and put into iced water, supposedly removes bitterness and enhances colour – not entirely convinced but does help wash them and remove dirt)
Lemon rind and juice
toasted nuts (pine though expensive at present)
salt & pepper
I have removed the need for cheese as the nuts do a good enough job
After blanching the wild garlic, roughly chop and put into a food processor (if you haven’t got one try a pestle & morter or again if haven’t got chop finely)
Add a bit of the other ingredients and finally add the oil. Mix, stop taste. Adjust to your liking. Some prefer a strong garlic flavour. Bear in mind wild garlic smells garlicky but is far milder once either cooked or mixed up. So you might add a chopped up clove of garlic.
I would add a small amount of lemon rind and juice as this can be quite powerful and also be careful on the salt too.
Once made put into sterilised jars with some oil on top which will prevent oxygen getting in and mold growing. Alternatively put into ice cube trays, let it set and then put into a bag for longer term storage.
This pesto can be used with pasta, alternative base for a pizza, drop into soup, add to salad. The list goes on
Just one other final note. We had to make some more pesto for our wedding. We used 50% ramson and 50% young nettle from the garden. The flavour was as good as the first batch. My recommendation is that you can use 50% nettle with almost anything else. Blanch the nettle for 30 seconds to remove the sting and proceed as per above.
I also had a bag of wild garlic left over. Last year I left it in a plastic bag and it went off. This year I briefly blanched them as per above, whizzed them up in the food processor and then put them into ice cube trays as per below. I then took them out and put into freezer bags and I can now use them at a later date.