So today I weeded all the green alkanet out of the area beneath the tree. Well, not all, you can still see a bit poking out from between those two bits of wood.
Discovering that green alkanet was in fact green alkanet was a fairly wonderous experience. I did it using Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica which is not the most obvious plant identification book… Richard (did I say how much I love Richard Mabey) told me that green alkanet was in the borage family. The cogs in my brain worked so slowly you could see them turning but turn they did… borage… comfrey… long taproot… dynamic accumulator… I asked Facebook if I could use it to make plant tea. Yes, came the answer, it just won’t be as good as comfrey. How can I make plant tea that won’t offend my housemate, I then asked. Use it as a mulch, Facebook answered (by Facebook, I obviously mean Hedvig). Only once I had worked out that I could feed it to the plants did I think, ‘hey, can I eat it?’ This is a very unusual turn of events. It turns out that the flowers are edible but not the leaves (the leaves are pretty itchy, I wouldn’t want to eat them). If you’re going to have an invasive weed, it’s nice when it has pretty edible flowers and considerable mulching qualities.
But as you can see, I pulled it all up to give the day lilies that I planted there a fighting chance. I think trying to get the taproots of the alkanet up may well have done a considerable amount of damage to the day lilies’ chances anyway, but I believe in their resilience and durability. What I also did was go wild with some seeds that I have had hanging around for ages. I sprinkled them fairly liberally over the whole area and then put a whole load of worm-post on the top. I am treating it as a seriously non-scientific experiment. The official reason for it is that I am trying to find an edible, self seeding ground cover mix and the non-official reason is that I wanted to use these seeds and see what grew. I am fully expecting half of them not too. They’re old seeds, and not all of them say to plant where they’re going to flower. Here’s the other place that I put some seeds. It’s pretty shady here – which I hadn’t noticed before, so let’s see what happens.
I planted Linum (Dazzler), Chard (Bright Lights), Rocket (Sky Rocket), French Marigold (Red Brocade), Nicotiana Affinis, some kind of nasturtium, Calendula, Portulaca (Sunshine Mixed), Love-in-a-mist (Summer mixed) and one lonely sunflower seed. With the exception of the Linum (which I can’t find any information on) and the Nicotiana Affinis (which is tobacco plant and therefore not neccessarily the best candidate for eating), they’re all edible. Let’s pretend I knew that before I planted them… I used the Plants for a Future database to find out about the edibility of the ones I didn’t know about. Plants for a Future is an amazing project – if you don’t know about it, look it up. So now all I have to do is wait and see…