Location: Warsaw, Ochota, Rakowiec: Yard of Apartment block
I have been doing a lot of experiments with Elderflowers, starting on May 27, when I made some Elderflower cordial for the wild food walk on the Warsaw Escarpment. My friends Wojtek and Aneta posted the recipe here in Polish and English. They made some with honey and mixed it with Krupnik. It was fantastic.
Now I’ve decided to make some wine and champagne before the flowers are gone, but it will be a long time before I know if it worked or not. I collected all the flowers from my neighborhood Rakowiec/Ochota and some close by in Mokotów.
Step 1 is to prepare the must. I’ve made two batches — one will be wine and one champagne. In the first experiment I let the flowers soak for four days, and then added the rest of the stuff. In the second I mixed all the ingredients and let it soak. They don’t have the same ingredients.
Day 1-4: Soak 500 ml of flowers, zest of 2 lemons in 4.5 l of boiled spring water
Day 5: Add campden tablet & wait 24 hours at room temperature
Day 6: Add 1 kg of sugar, juice of 2 lemons, 1 packet EC-1118 wine yeast
Put in the basement (20C). When wine is at BRIX 7 /SG 1.03, move to demijohn.
Day 1: Soak 500 ml flowers with sugar, rind and juice of 2 lemons, 250 g white raisins, 4.5 l of hot boiled water with 1/2 cup of strong green tea and 1.3 kg of sugar
Day 2: add 1 tsp yeast nutrient and 1.25 tsp SN9 wine yeast
One day at room temperature, then move to basement (20C). When wine is at BRIX 7/SG 1.03, move to demijohn.
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.
A close-up picture of the flower.
A picture of the leaves.
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:
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.
Yesterday was the first “Allotment Sunday.” It was a pruning and cutting day.
We cut down a cherry tree, which was quite dead. Poor thing. The wood is so hard and red. I’ll try to use the bark to dye some wool.
It is difficult to cut trees, even dead ones, let alone unwanted living ones. We cut down three young box elder trees , which were blocking the light to the garden. The sap ran out of them, clear tree blood… (at first these trees were mistakenly ID’d as ash — now we know — all that blood syrup, gone to waste). They are now part of the crazy make-shift fence.
Here is a dead cherry tree stump that will stay the way it is for awhile for one reason: Kasper loves chopping at.
Took this picture today. A tiny poppy came up after the mowing!
The meadow has been mowed. It’s hard to believe that someone would want to mow down all those pretty flowers, but they did. We don’t know when it happened. Sometime between July 11 and September 10 — a long span! However, wildflower meadows need to be mowed once a year anyway. Ideally, it would have been mowed in the fall so that the seeds could make new flowers. But, we’ll simply plant more wildflower seeds in the bald spots after the first frost. In the meantime we’ll pick the non-wildflower weeds and keep it clear of garbage. Perhaps in the spring we’ll have to take some action to prevent another ill-timed cutting.
The picture above shows that some of the wildflowers survived the cut. I think I see the chrysanthemums and chamomile.
I also just found THIS SEED COMPANY SITE which has some good information about growing wildflower meadows.
Wojtek took these photo on July 11. It’s Amazing! It’s Stupendous! It’s a Tiny Meadow!
Look at this beautiful poppy.
Here is a close up of the Poppy’s buds.
The Chrysanthemums are about to bloom.
And finally Chamomile poking up between the Chrysanthemum leaves. You can see the feathery leaves of the Chamomile.
I am not in Poland, but Wojtek took these photos of the Tiny Meadow on May 21. The sticks were knocked down, but something is growing there.
However, at this point, we are not entirely sure just what that growth is. The feathery one below could be Chamomile (Rumien Polny) or Mayweed (Maruna Bezwonna).
The seedlings below are abundant. Not sure what they are yet. Not Chamomile, not Mayweed. The broad leaves indicate Chrysanthemum or Poppy. All the other flowers in this mix have narrower leaves (Vetch, Cornflowers, Corncockles), and since there were not very many Poppy seeds in the mix, my guess is Chrysanthemum.
It doesn’t look like much, but today the first tiny meadow was planted. Will these little sticks protect it?
Here are the wildflower seeds that will be planted in the tiny meadow. I got these from the incomparable Łukasz Łuczaj, who not only sells handpicked mixes of Polish wildflowers but also conducts a very great Wild food workshop in Bieszczady in Southeast Poland. To prepare the seeds, I took some sand and water and mixed in the seeds. Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact measurements, but it’s something reasonable. Let them sit in the refrigerator for a day and then put them in the freezer. (These are Lukasz’s directions.) Each quarter of the bowl contains about 50g of seeds for about 6m2 of land. When I’m ready I’ll take them out, mix with more sand, and broadcast.
This particular mix is called meadow flowers or cornflower annuals (kwiaty polne). It contains the following flowers:
- Złocień polny (Chrysanthemum segetum) – Chrysanthemum
- Mak polny (Papaver rhoeas) – Poppy
- Maruna bezwonna (Tripleurospermum inodorum) – Mayweed
- Rumian polny (Anthemis arvensis) – Chamomile
- Chaber bławatek (Centaurea cyanus) – Cornflower
- Wyka brudnożółta (Vicia grandiflora) – Vetch
- Wyka ptasia (Vicia cracca) – Cow vetch
- Kąkol (Agrostemma githago)- Corncockle
- Poziewnik (Galeopsis speciosa, G. pubescens i G. tetrahit) – Hemp nettle
This mix can potentially produce flowers in the first year, and although some of them are annuals, it seems like a good idea to get something going as quickly as possible. I have another mix called Dry Grassland (Kwietna Murawa), which takes a little longer to get going. I’ll try those somewhere else.