Translate this Page

May 282012
 
Komosa

Komosa

Yesterday was the wild walk on the Scarp, and I don’t have any photos yet, so maybe more on that when I get some. Right now I want to talk about an issue that arose on the walk. I identified a plant as KOMOSA, but one of the people on the walk said it was LEBIODA, so I decided to get to the bottom of it. It turns out, that these are two names for the same plant, though the “official name” is Komosa biała (Chenopodium album). Not to be confused with Lebiodka, or Wild Oregano, which is a completely different plant!

In English the plant also has many names: Fat Hen, Lamb’s Quarters, Goosefoot. To complicate matters further, Lamb’s Quarter’s in North America is a different, though similar, species to this Euro-Asian one. The Polish authority on all of this, as on all wild plants in Poland, is Lukasz Luczaj. (http://www.astromagia.pl/zdrowie-i-uroda/zielnik/881-lebioda-chwast-dla-godnych).

This plant is very common. I’ve seen it everywhere — in the pots on my balcony, in my gardens, in the yards, in the parks, even in the school greenhouse where I buy seedlings. The young leaves have a very distinctive taste, a bit like a particular and common male emission. Sometimes the leaves look like Christmas Trees; others look like arrows. Perhaps these are different Komosas.

This is one of the healthiest weeds there is. High in Vitamin C, A, even protein. That’s why it has the names it does. It fattens you up, whether you are a hen, a lamb, or a human. In Poland, however, to be found eating it, is to some a sure sign of poverty. To me, it’s a sure sign of resourcefulness!

May 232012
 

Find and eat food in public! Wild Food on the Escarpment / Dzikie Jedzenie Na Scarpie. Join me for a wild food walk and feast this Sunday, May 27. Behind the National Museum (Muzeum Narodowe), 12:30 and 3:30.

Dzikie jedzenie na Scarpie

Dzikie jedzenie na Scarpie

Poszukaj kulinarnych inspiracji na łace. Spójrz na otaczającą zieleń z zupełnie innej perspektywy i zostań koneserem zieleni(ny). Dołącz do naszej ekspedycji poszukiwawczej, znajdź okazy dzikich roślin jadalnych i użyj ich jako składników potraw.

Początek warsztatu bedzie polegać na eksplorowaniu okolic Parku Marszałka Edwarda Smigłego-Rydza) i poszukiwaniu roślin jadalnych. Następnie przemieścimy się na przepiękną łakę, znajdująca się na tyłach Muzeum Narodowego, gdzie, z zebranej zieleniny, przygotujemy pyszną, wiosenną sałatkę i dzikie naleśniki.

Przewodnikiem po jadalnej łącę bęśdzie Jodie Baltazar

In English:
Look for culinary inspiration in the meadow. Check out the greenery from a completely different perspective and become a connossiur of Greens. Join us for an expedition to find wild edible plants and learn how to use them in cooking.

The workshop will start by exploring the Park Marszałka Edward Smigłego-Rydza looking for edible plants. Then we’ll move to the beautiful meadow behind the National Museum and make a tasty salad and wild pancakes with what we found.

May 212012
 

My Backyard

My Backyard

One thing I love about this place is that noone is too quick to mow the greens. It’s May 21 and it has yet to be mowed. But, it won’t be long, so today I decided to explore the wilderness that is my backyard and see what kind of edible treasures I could find. It’s a strip between the building and the street.
Field of Wild Turnip

Field of Wild Turnip


The best thing I found was a patch of Wild Turnip, Brassica Rapa. Sadly, this patch will probably be chopped down, so I’ll never get to eat the roots. The leaves & flowers were delicious, though.

Wild Turnip Flower

Wild Turnip Flower


A close-up picture of the flower.

Wild Turnip Leaves

Wild Turnip Leaves


A picture of the leaves.

Chickweed

Chickweed


I found some chickweed hiding under a bush. They were so sweet and crunchy.

I also found Shepard’s Purse (Tasznik), which can be found just about everywhere, Ground Ivy (Bluszcz kurdybanek), Yellow Dock (Szczaw kędzierzawy), and something I can’t figure out. I thought it was Good King Henry, but it’s leaves aren’t the right shape. It has a red stem. What is it? Amaranth? Some other Goosefoot? Here is a patch of the stuff:

Patch of the Stuff

Patch of the Stuff

Buds of the stuff

Buds of the stuff

Leaves of the stuff

Leaves of the stuff

Stem of the stuff

Stem of the stuff

WHAT IS THE STUFF?

And later, continuing…. Sławek suggests it is Rumex patientia, and I’m inclined to agree. Patience Dock? It seems to be a close relative of Yellow Dock or Rumex crispus. On the patientia, the stem is redder, the buds tighter, and the leaves broader. Here is the specimen of Yellow Dock I found in the backyard.

Rumex crispus

Rumex crispus

May 202012
 
DIY Table

DIY Table

Here is a table I made from a big board I found in the dumpster. The Polish equivalent of Home Depot is called Castorama, which is actually a French company. I don’t understand why, but wood is very expensive in this store and most of the wood is really shitty–actually it’s not wood at all but rather plastic-covered particleboard, a sort of IKEA-type substance that offends me on both the aesthetic and ecological plains. One must go to a lumber yard to find real wood. It’s fun to go there and it’s cheap and that’s all great. What is not great is that the lumber yards are way out of town, requiring a car to get there, which I have not. However, I found this sort of “garden wood” at the good ‘ole Castorama. It’s about four times cheaper than untreated pine and is actually cut to standard and usable sizes.  A great guy named DAREK helped me saw the wood (and he also dug two big garden bed holes very fast and trimmed a giant apple tree). Thanks Darek!

May 172012
 
Composting with anarchists (and dogs)

Composting with anarchists (and dogs)

Yesterday I went down to SYRENA, Warsaw’s friendly local squat, to help build a compost bin. There are 14 or more vegetarians who live and/or eat there. A lot of their food is dumpster-dived, although nowadays the term has been upgraded to freegan charmingly rendered in Polish as freeganski. So they have a lot of waste. But like good anarchists, they have difficulty organizing themselves to do anything about it. So huge piles of rotten food may be found lying about…

I arranged a few months ago to take their waste. They were going to deliver it to me at the Railroad Garden once a week. The first three or four weeks after we made the arrangement, they didn’t call, respond to my emails, or show up. That’s partly because they were supporting a raid on another friendly, local squat and partly because they couldn’t organize themselves to do anything about it. Eventually I got a call to meet them at a certain time. That time came and went. Well, let’s say that eventually we met up, but it was getting dark. They had an enormous amount of waste. Maybe 200 liters, I’d say. We buried it like a stolen treasure as night fell, fell, fell.

Well, they decided to deal with their own waste and build a compost bin. Great! When I arrived, one tired woman was disassembling a pallet. Eventually others were russelled up. Some people set to work to build the bin; others helped to rip up paper; a few more started to sort through the various garbage piles, separating compost from organic waste from garbage. But after a couple of hours almost everyone seemed to have magically disappeared, except me and a very resourceful, energetic guy named Gibbon. There were another couple of guys, but this is what would happen: I’d put a shovel in one of the guy’s hand, and he’d shovel a couple of things. Then he’d get a phone call. Then he’d lean on his shovel for a while. Then he’d sort of wander off as he chatted on the phone, leaving the shovel behind. It was very funny.

Fortunately, Gibbon and I finished the thing. Then we went inside where I was served the most delicious homemade lightly salted (małosolne) pickles I’d every eaten in my life!!!!

May 052012
 

On Friday, we hauled about 700 liters of dirt to the Urban Greens boxes, and left them there overnight. This morning I found a beautiful present from my neighbor Wojtek (Pixxe Portrait be forthcoming, I promise!): three packets of seeds. What a lovely thing!

Seed Gifts

Seed Gifts

Next came Inga, a dynamite lady! A few others arrived: Wojtek P., Aneta, Kinga, and then Michał from Szczęśliwice, and Nina from the Warsaw Food Cooperative. Kasper helped with the stencils. The men-of-the-bench, the nearest neighbors and protectors of the little garden, looked on. One of them brought us water from his apartment. Here are some photos of the planting day:

Inga

Inga

Wojtek and Aneta

Wojtek and Aneta

Nina

Nina

Squishy stencils, from last year and this

Squishy stencils, from last year and this

Tomato Marigold Basil

Tomato Marigold Basil

The planted boxes

The planted boxes

May 032012
 

Miejska Zielenina - Urban Greens - May 5On Saturday May 5 at 11.00, we will be putting seeds and seedlings of herbs and veges into the “Urban Greens” boxes outside my apartment block.

Please come! In Ochota / Rakowiec at Pawinskiego 29 on the South Side of the building.

(W sobotę 5 maja 11.00, będziemy zasadź sadzonki w skrzynce “Miejska Zielenina” obok budynku w moim osiedle na Rakowcu — zapraszam!)

The boxes were vandalized only once, right after they were built. On Halloween someone threw all the straw out onto the ground, which was easy to fix. Yeah, I just put it back in. In six months, this is all the garbage I found in the boxes: two bits of paper, a cigarette butt, and a beer bottle cap.

A small bit of trashSo when people say you can’t do anything in public in Poland because someone will destroy it, well, it isn’t always true.

This is what the boxes, which we prepared in October 2011, look like now. The green manure in the more distant box is about 1 foot tall. The manure was a mix of winter rye, field peas, ryegrass, crimson clover and hairy vetch, but only the rye grass really took.Garden Boxes in May The straw shrunk down about 15 cm. Tomorrow we’ll do a dirt-straw-compost exchange between Railroad Garden, which lacks straw and compost, and here, which lacks dirt.

Today I cut down the rye grass in preparation and spread it over the bed. Rye Grass cut and spread over garden beds

See you Saturday! Do zobaczenie w sobotę!

May 022012
 

Allotment Sundays / Niedziele na działce will now be starting later in the day. Instead of 11-3 it will now run from 2-6 in the afternoon. The reason is that it’s too hot in the middle of the day.

There will be a lot of planting going on this week plus still more trimming back of weeds and trees. I would also like to build a table on Sunday…

Today, I planted some Broccoli, Kale, and herb seedlings. First Seedlings

May 012012
 

After six months, I finally did something about the lock. Something brilliant. If you didn’t know, last October someone cut the chain and put on their own lock.

I didn’t want to do anything destructive. For over a year, with the exception of cutting down some trees, most of what I’ve done here is constructive: fixing and building. So I was hesitant to break the lock or the chain. When I first arrived, there was a chain, but no lock. My gentlemanly neighbor told me the owner died fifteen years ago.

At first I thought that I would make two gates, but we thought of a better idea: two locks.

Two Locks

So now both of us can get in. The mystery man and I. As you can see, my lock is the weakling.