Fruity Haircuts

Pruning 2014

Our first Pruning Day at Frankendael orchards was a great success.  Twelve volunteers helped to carefully remove the old, neglected apple, pear and quince trees. Stadsdeel Oost kindly lent us excellent pruning equiptment which we used to remove dead, dangerous or problematic branches.  Many of these branches were causing the trees to topple over or split.

Tayfun pruning day 2014

It is many years since the trees have been pruned so we worked as lightly as possible. Our intention: to improve the health and longevity of the trees rather than to increase fruit production. Pruned branches will be buried in the orchards to slowly fertilise the soil and a few branches have been taken to Restaurant Merkelbach for use in winter decorations.

Arching pear tree before pruning 2014

Here (above and below) is the beautiful arching pear tree beside the terrace of Restaurant Merkelbach. It always looks great but has become too heavy in recent years so today it had a hair cut. It still looks very beautiful but is now more likely to live on healthily for many years.

Pruning day 2014

In the spring or summer we will prune the cherry and plum trees within the four orchards but every week there is something interesting to here. They are a real haven in the city, adopted by River of Herbs from Stadsdeel Oost in April 2014.  They are gradually being transformed into natural looking community gardens where wild and cultivated herbs grow underfoot and old fruit trees reach up overhead. Perhaps you would like to come and help sometime? You don’t need any experience, just a willingness to have a go.  Join us any Wednesday morning 9.30 – 11.30 (and Saturday mornings in the spring/summer) or stay in touch via our Facebook group or this website. We were helped today by three volunteers from Vrienden van Frankendael. Please also check out their website to see what else is happening in Park Frankendael – lots of interesting things!

Quince post pruning 2014

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Tuintje 77

Tuintje 77 November 2015

We have begun the latest River of Herbs course in a delightful “volkstuin” (Dutch garden and small house in a large allotment style complex) in Amsterdam Oost Watergraafsmeer.  Cato, the owner of Tuintje 77, wants her beautiful naturalised garden to gradually develop into a community garden where everyone collaborates to learn, grow and share harvest. We have arranged to help the process along by teaching the free RoH course there every third Monday morning of the month. So every four months will be the chance for new people to join in, learn the RoH gardening methods and start to collaborate in Cato’s community garden project. Today was the first session and we had a lovely time.

Our group of eight worked on planning how to take the garden forward for wildlife and people whilst considering its location, existing plants and structures, the needs and wishes of Cato’s family, the intended community garden idea, the regulations of the Volkstuin complex and her neighbours.  There is a lot to think about! Today we worked on relocating small hazel saplings from the flower beds to the edge of the plot, to create a multifunctional hedge. We also pulled out Ash saplings which can quickly take over such a plot, rapidly spreading Bamboo was thinned, a couple of trees and shrubs were pruned and good coffee and cake were eaten! All in all a very pleasant, gezellig morning.

Late summer tuintje 77

The next meeting will be the third Monday of January 2015. The course is full (the next one will start at Tuintje 77 in April 2015) but if you want to get in contact with Cato (the owner) or Lynn and Brigitta (the ROH Elders for this course) then please do so via riverofherbs@gmail.com.

The RoH course is now being piloted online and is being held on www.tansyturnip.org. It is free to follow and the resources are being improved each time we run a session. You can download notes there, follow links, see photos and soon will be able to watch video clips to help explain our techniques.  Please take a look and let us know how your River of Herbs garden planning is coming along.

Posted in Course

Next Course – Oost Watergraafsmeer

Photo October 2014
The next River of Herbs full course will take place at a lovely private “volkstuin” (Dutch allotment with small house) in Oost Watergraafsmeer and will begin on Monday November 17th 2014.

There are 6 spaces available on this free course where we will teach you how to plan, plant, maintain and use a herb garden with people and wildlife in mind. We would like to offer the 6 places to interested people who currently live in Amsterdam Oost/Diemen/Ijberg. This is because the long term aim is to create a community garden at the site.

This will be a Monday morning course, running from 09.30-11.30 each meeting. There will be four sessions in the course, each on the third Monday of the month:
November 17th 2014,
January 19th,
February 16th,
March 16th 2015.

All being well we will offer a follow on course straight afterwards at the same venue (so April onwards) and more afterwards. The course will be run by Lynn Shore, supported by Brigitta Huigsloot. Handouts will be available online in Dutch and English. You can see the current versions here, to get a flavour of the topics which will be covered. Our printed booklets will be available to purchase if participants want paper copies.

The volkstuin garden that we will work in is a very excting plot. It is already plant and wildlife rich but has heaps of potential for making it better suited to the needs of the owners and local wildlife. We have immediate plans for increasing the number of suitable herb species, seed saving, developing a bee flower dome, edible hedge planting, bug hotels, compost making, herbarium and far more!

If you are interested in joining this course and helping to develop the volkstuin then please contact Lynn and Brigitta via riverofherbs@gmail.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Volksbond Oost

Volksbond Oost

From October 2014, River of Herbs will deliver a monthly herb gardening session for residents of Volksbond Oost shelter for young homeless people. Each month we will focus on a range of no-cost green skills to help empower the residents. We are delighted with this collaboration as increasing urban food security through teaching is a central aim of River of Herbs. To complement the sessions at Volksbond Oost, there will soon be a No-Cost/Gratis page on this website with simple seasonal ideas for no-cost herb gardening.

We are interested in forging links with other similar locations and we seek funding to support this aspect of our work. Please contact us if you can help.

Posted in Uncategorized

Boomgaard Project – Park Frankendael

path laying

For English click here

Op 3 april 2014 kreeg de River of Herbs toestemming van Stadsdeel Oost om de 4 oude boomgaard binnentuinen in Park Frankendael te onderhouden. Deze binnentuinen hebben een prachtige, unieke habitat en het parkonderhoud wordt hier tot het mimimum beperkt. Lange brandnetels en wilde bloemen groeien goed onder de fruitbomen in de zomer.

Dit project van de River of Herbs is een langzaam groeiend maar blijvend project. We streven ernaar de schoonheid van de binnentuinen en de voordelen voor de mensen, planten en bijen te vergroten. De gevarieerheid van de fruitbomen (sommige zijn al zeer oud) is niet helemaal tot zijn recht gekomen de laatste paar jaar, dus ons team van vrijwilligers zal ervoor dat ze beter tot hun recht komen. Ook zullen we een pruimenboom-workshops in het najaar organiseren om betere vaardigheden te leren met betrekking tot de bomen en de bomen gezonder te maken. We richten ons hierbij niet op een betere oogst, maar op gezondere bomen en leervaardigheden.

De grond onder de fruitbomen is vruchtbaar en makkelijk te bewerken. In april waren er ongeveer 20 plantensoorten te vinden die veelal eetbaar of waardevol voor de natuur dan wel beschermd zijn. Ons doel is om de planten biodiversiteit in de binnentuinen te vergroten, zodat iedereen daarvan kan genieten, mens en dier. We halen bijvoorbeeld we brandnetels en fluitekruid weg om ruimte te maken voor 60 andere schaduwplanten die eetbaar, medicinal of andersinds bruikbaar zijn. Hierbij hopen we meer bijen, hommels en vinders aan te trekken. De tuinen zullen organisch,  met behulp van permacultuur, bewerkt worden.

De River of Herbs gebruikt de binnentuinen nu ook al als leerplek voor buurtbewoners om te leren over planten, onderhoud en het gebruik van schaduw(planten)plekken.

Deze boomgaarden zijn zeer belagrijk en we hopen dat je op een of andere manier betrokken raakt bij ons project.

Seeds in orchard soil

Doe mee!

We ontmoeten elkaar (bijna) elke woensdagochtend tussen 9-11.30. In ruil voor verse kruidenthee en koekjes kan je lichte tuiniertaken doen, die vooral leuk zijn als we met een heel team werken! We organiseren ook op minder regelmatige basis bijeenkomsten  in het weekend. Doe mee! Geen ervaring vereist, alleen enthousiasme. Als je mee wilt doen stuur dan even een mailtje naar riverofherbs@gmail.com of bel Lynn op 0627596930 om er zeker van te zijn dat wij er zijn.

path laying with Aurel.Tayfun. Aveen

Tot nu toe hebben de River of Herbs vrijwillers dit gedaan:

  • Paadjes gemaakt van houtsnippers en een aparte open zitplek
  • Brandnetels en fluitekruid verwijderd. vele brandnetels zijn gebruikt voor een lokaal verfproject, voor brandnetel soep en bier. De rest is op de composthoop beland.
  • Nieuwe planten geintroduceerd zoals bergbonenkruid, citroenmelisse, aalbessen, hosta en kaasjeskruid.
  • Zaden geplant in potten om later uit te zetten in de boomgaarden en verder te verspreiden door de stad

Dorette orchard flowers

Schaduwplanten wenslijst

We zoeken altijd naar schaduwplanten, stekjes en zaden om te planten in de boomgaard. Als je wat zou willen schenken of als je ideeen hierover hebt horen we het graag!

Bieslook – diverse soorten
Peterselie
Babington’s prei
Aalbes of rode bes
Kruisbes
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregan grape)
Druif
Laurier
Soloman’s zegel
Hosta’s
Malva’s (e.g. Kaasjeskruid, Heemst…)
Phytolacca acinosa (Karmozijn bes – Pokeroot)
Zuring
Winter Postelein
Siberian Postelein
Allium neapolitanum (Daffodil garlic)
Viooltje
Klaverzuring
Mierikswortel
Aarbeien
Citroenmelisse
Zoethout
Roomse kervel
Turkse rucola
Hemerocallidoideae (Dag-lelie)
Smeerwortel
Longkruid
Framboos
Teunisbloem
Vrouwenmantel
Hop
Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen)
Geraniums (e.g. Geranium sylvaticum)
Vlier
Vergeet me nietjes
Kweek champignons

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Posted in Orchards

River of Herbs Schools Project

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River of Herbs was recently awarded a generous NME fonds grant by the City of Amsterdam to fund our Schools Project. We will begin working with ten selected schools from the end of 2014 through to the summer of 2015. Each school will receive two free workshops from the River of Herbs Schools team, teaching 30 children and 2 teachers how to plan, plant and maintain child freindly herbs in urban spaces (such as the school playground or space directly outside of the school building). We are very excited about the project and are delighted to have been awarded the funds to make it happen.  At the moment the project group is being set up and teaching materials prepared.

Which ten schools?
We will be publicising the project soon and will then consider the schools which express an interest. The ten focus schools need to be in Amsterdam and to have a community of motivated staff, parents and pupils who would be keen to participate in the project. The workshops will provide very useful gardening skills and will result in a herb garden at each site. The children and staff must want to use their new herbal gardening skills to care for the school herb garden themselves and they should use their new skills to teach other children and families how to grow and use herbs. The schools do not need to have any gardening “land.”  It is possible to grow herbs almost anywhere and each site will provide different opportunities and challenges.

If you are part of  an Amsterdam school where you think there may be serious interest in joining our schools project then do contact us and keep an eye on this website. Training at ten Amsterdam schools will be funded by this project but other schools may like to participate. Those who are not selected can follow developments and pick up tips, ideas and inspiration from the River of Herbs Schools Page which will soon be part of this website. If other schools would like members of our schools team to visit them, to provide the ROH Schools workshops or offer advice, then this will be possible for a very reasonable cost.

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Meeting for Schools Project Volunteer Team.

Monday 2nd June, 20.00-21.00
Frankendael Orchards (we will go inside Merkelbach restaurant/Huize Frankendael if it rains).

Meeting to establish the team of Dutch and/or English speaking enthusiastic ROH gardeners, to train in ten selected Amsterdam basis schools (4-12 year olds).

We  will explain:

1. The project.

2. What the ROH schools team will do.

3. How to apply to be on the team.
You’ll need VOG goed gedrag clearance (applied for specifically for this ROH project – previous VOG certificates are not sufficient) and to show that you can thoughtfully explain simple gardening tasks to young children. Teaching gardening is not difficult but it’s not something for everyone.

4. What ROH can offer volunteers in return for their help.

5. Other ROH Schools Project things that we need help with:

… preparing the course materials,

… marketing/publicity aimed at schools,

… planning, setting up and updating the ROH Schools Page of this website (English and Dutch),

… setting up and moderating a private Facebook group for teachers at the ten schools,

… liaising with the ten schools and other schools via email etc.

… purchasing assistance for required materials (best sources and prices etc).

… etc!

So some volunteers may be more interested in these things, rather than the actual teaching. We need plenty of help with this so please don’t be shy! This first meeting will also give time to raise questions about the project and so on.

We hope to see you on Monday evening!

Meeting location
The old Frankendael Orchards are located at the sides of the formal garden, behind Huize Frankendael. Inside that building is Restaurant Merkelbach (Middenweg 72). We will gather under the big Yew (NL: Taxus) tree, near the chickens. So, in the hedged orchard closest to the Koetshuis part of Huize Frankendael. If the weather is bad will go inside of Huize Frankendael.

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Posted in Schools

Frankendael Orchards Project

path laying

On 3rd April 2014 River of Herbs was granted permission by Stadsdeel Oost, to take care of the four old orchards in Park Frankendael. These orchards are beautiful unique habitats where the park maintenance team keeps managment to a minimum. Tall nettles and wild flowers grow tall under the trees in summer and not much has happened in there for many years.

Our plan
The River of Herbs orchard project is a slow, steady and sustainable one. We aim to maintain the beauty of the orchards whilst increasing their usefulness to people, plants and pollinators. The varied fruit trees (some of which are very old) have become rather neglected over the years so our team of volunteers will be taking care of them as and when required. Sensitive pruning workshops will be organised during each autumn, to increase local skills and take care of the lovely old trees. We are not aiming for high yeilds but rather for diversity, better tree health and learning opportunities for the community.

The ground beneath the trees is fertile and easy to work. In April the four orchards contained around 20 plant species, many of which are edible or valuable to wildlife, others are toxic to humans and a couple are endangered. Our aim is to increase herbal biodiversity in these orchards for the benefit of people, pollinators and the fruit trees in the four areas. For instance we are reducing the area claimed by stinging nettles, hedge parsley and Himalayan balsam to make space for about 60 other shade tolerant edible, medicinal or otherwise useful perennial plants. We are aiming to provide nectar for pollinators, including bees, for twelve months of the year. The orchards will be worked organically using permaculture principles.

The orchards are already being used by River of Herbs as teaching sites for local people who want to learn how to plant, maintain and use herbsin shady locations. These are community herb gardens with a difference and we hope you will visit and get involved in some way.

Seeds in orchard soil

Get involved
We try to meet at the orchards each Wednesday morning between 09.00 – 11.30. Fresh herb tea and biscuits are offered in exchange for help with simple gardening tasks – which are always much easier with a team! We also organise less regular weekend meetings. Please come and join us if you like. No experience is required, just enthusiasm! If you plan to join us and want to check that someone will be there then please email riverofherbs@gmail.com or call Lynn on 0627596930.

path laying with Aurel.Tayfun. Aveen

So far River of Herbs volunteers have:

  • Laid bark chipping paths and a seating area – to protect the plants and trees from walkers and gardeners.
  • Cleared a huge numbers of stinging nettle and hedge parsley plants. Some have been used for local dyeing projects, some for nettle soup and nettle beer and the rest has been composted.
  • Began to introduce new plant species such as winter savory, lemonbalm, redcurrant, hosta, mallow.
  • Planted other seeds in pots of orchard soil for germination on our home balconies and rooftops.

Dorette orchard flowers

Shady plants wish list
We are currently looking for plants and seeds to help us plant these useful shade tolerant plants in the orchards. If you would like to donate any, or if you have other suggestions, then please let us know!

Chives
Parsley
Babington’s Leek
Redcurrant
Gooseberry
Oregan grape
Bay
Soloman’s seal
Hostas
Mallows – Wood mallow, Musk mallow
Poke Root
Sorrels
Siberian purslane
Daffodil garlic
Violets
Wood sorrel
Horseradish
Strawberries
Lemonbalm
Liquorice
Sweet cicely
Turkish rocket
Day lilies
Comfreys
Lungwort
Nepalese raspberry
Primrose
Lady’s Mantle
Hops
Wintergreen
Geraniums
Elder
Forget-me-not
Mushroom impregnated pegs (for logs)

Posted in Herb Gardens

Pakhuis Seedmix

Pakhuis Seedmix. Photo credit Jolanda Hoogendoorn

Pakhuis Seedmix. Photo credit Jolanda Hoogendoorn

So what is Pakhuis Seed mix?
Pakhuis seedmix is made up of dozens of seed vareties. It was created at our launch event at Pakhuis de Zwijger in February 2014. About 120 people attended and a great number of them kindly poured surplus herb seed in to a big wooden pot as they entered the meeting room. We bulked it up with some De Bolster bee friendly seedmix, gave it a big stir and packaged it up in our signature seed packets.

How can I get some?

What can I do with it?
Try to plant the seed before June 2014.
Plant the Pakhuis Seedmix in disused space such as tree pits, pavement gardens, disused land, plant pots or a sunny corner of your garden.
The most important thing is that you plant the seeds and don’t let them age in a drawer at home.

How to plant seeds.
Simply remove the top layer of soil at your plot (with the shoe, a stick, a spoon or trowel etc),
Sprinkle the seeds in the bare earth,
Cover with the top layer of soil (not too deep as they may struggle but don’t leave them visible to birds).
Sprinkle with some water (or plant when the soil is moist from rain).
Leave and let nature do it’s work.

Map your Herb Meadows
Please send us photos and addresses of your urban herb meadows, so we can add them to our map.
We are trying to plant a River of Herbs through Amsterdam but we are happy for you to plant herbs anywhere!
Tell us what grows from your Pakhuis Seedmix – every packet will be slightly different.
Save some seed from your Pakhuis herbs, share them with freinds and plant them next year.

wpid-2013-05-27-17.21.00.jpg

What else can I do?
Help us create urban herb meadows for pollinating insects and people!

  • Plant flowering herbs in a pot.
  • Make your street a more beautiful and wildlife freindly place by adopting a treepit or requesting a pavement garden from the local council.
  • Create a green group in your street, adopt all the treepits and fill the soil with flowering herbs.
  • Check out our events page for what’s coming up in your area and join in!
  • Suggest a location and we will help you gather green volunteers to plan, plant and care for it.
  • Tell us about other green projects going on in the city – we love to collaborate.

Which herbs grow well in Amsterdam?
Here are a few herbs which can grow really well in Amsterdam’s sandy soil. They look great and are helpful to people and pollinators. See our herb list for a greater selection. These are excellent for treepits and pavement gardens.

Goudsebloem (Calendula officinalis) Calendula
Druifhyacint (Muscari neglectum) Grape hyacynth
Viooltje (Viola tricolor) Pansies
Absinth-alsem (Artemisia absinthum) Wormwood
Stockroos (Alcea rosea) Hollyhock
Citroenmelisse (Melissa officinalis) Lemonbalm
Rozemarijn (Rosamarinus officinalis) Rosemary
Tijm (Thymus spp) Thyme
Bonenkruid (Satureja montana) Winter savoury
Lavendel (Lavendula spp.) Lavender

Happy planting and we hope to see you soon!

Posted in About, Geveltuin/pavement garden, Growing, Herb Swaps, Seeds, Tree pits

Get planting!

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Now is a great time to plant herbs which are insect and people freindly in any vacant spaces near you.

Here’s a treepit on the corner my street which I began caring for late last summer. The ground was totally bare at the start. I added a few spare seeds, seedlings and cuttings from plants I was growing on my balcony. Things like Horseradish, Calendula, Poppy, Grape Hyacynth and Wormwood.

It’s now doing well, there is still space to add new herb plants and today it needed a little weeding but it is now home to wildlife that was not present before (see those ladybirds?).

Today I added markers to a few of my adopted treepits, to hopefully encourage more of my neighbours to join the project and plant useful herbs in urban spaces. It’s easy and rewarding. You can choose to adopt a location (or not), you can request a geveltuin from your stadsdeel or maybe join a group project somewhere in the city. See our events page for what’s going on – it’s all free!

The Frankendael River of Herbs Orchard project begins this week. Maybe that’s interesting to you? Or join the treepit planting on Lijnbaansgracht this Saturday and learn gardening tips from some of the team.

Whether you join us or not, I hope you will begin to think of small unused spaces in the city as herbal oases opportunities – where we can help people, plants and pollinators!

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Posted in Growing, Tree pits

Workshop with Ann and Val

 

River of Herbs workshop planting Van Beuningenplein, Amsterdam

River of Herbs workshop planting Van Beuningenplein, Amsterdam

Ann Doherty and Val Turner ran a ROH workshop recently to help share valuable knowledge with volunteer gardeners in Amsterdam West. We greatly apprecaite their support and hope you will check out the other activies they offer through City Plot and Know Your Onions! Here’s their report…

Ann Doherty River of Herbs workshop

The River of Herbs workshop on Saturday March 15th filled up very quickly as it was held shortly after the launch of the RoH in Pakhuis de Zwijger. We welcomed 14 people in the Westerpark, and over a cup of herbal tea talked a bit about the why’s, where’s and how’s of creating an edible herbal corridor in Amsterdam. Val led the group around the mini-urban farm at Proef, identifying different herbs and talking about different ways that they can be propagated.

Val Turner River of Herbs workshop

We then walked a few minutes to the van Beuningenplein, where we had previously identified a perfect spot for a tributary of the RoH with our bee-friendly friend Carol Poye.

Van Beuningenplein River of Herbs Amsterdam

It is a barren little bit of soil next to a vibrant playground, surrounded by a low fence. We hopped the fence and set to work planting comfrey, chamomile, lemon balm and feverfew in the little plot, and marked the plants with sticks saying River of Herbs.

River of Herbs placemark version one!

We had positive feedback from the group, and they also wanted to come back for more in May!

Proeftuin Amsterdam River of Herbs

Please note: The next workshop run by Ann and Val (May 2014) will be offered firstly to the people who attended this one. If spaces remain then we will advertise it on this website.

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Posted in Workshops