If you follow my page The Watercress Queen on Facebook you will have seen my post about conkers and using them for washing your clothes. It has been shared many many times so I thought I would add it here as it is an important part of our family life.
If you would like to try some washkers (prepared conkers ) for yourself we have them for sale in our shop
This is what I wrote on facebook…
This was the first post I did about conkers in 2018, I had no idea how well the conkers would work long term, but I really wanted to try. I did not want to go into lots of “how-to” without actually having experienced the long term use of conkers for my washing.
I have now finished preparing my washing "powder"!
8 kilos of conkers - picked up from only three trees and we didn't pick them all up by a long way. We have planted 20 conkers as a thank you to the earth.
This will give me 3 washes a day for a whole year. I have been using them for towels for a whole year already and nothing but conkers for 2 months now. Our clothes don't smell of anything and are super soft :-)
On the day after my post, this article from the BBC was published. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49838650
There are many challenges for our trees and plants to come in the future. We have become so out of touch with our natural resources we have forgotten how to work with our biospheres natural ways of looking after itself. I think many of the problems facing our wonderful trees are due to our interference. If we trust in the cycles of life that have existed from the beginning of time and work with them instead of against them we may just stand a chance of helping our wonderful planet become truly beautiful again.
If you can, even if you don't use the conkers for washing your clothes I urge you to plant trees. Go out and collect conkers and acorns, hazelnuts, rowan berries - look at what is local to you, and plant them, let's see how many trees we can get planted.
New Forest Aquaponics will be growing as many trees as we can. We will be starting many of them off in our aquaponic systems to give them a very strong start in life. The aim then is to be able to gift them to people who have somewhere to plant them to grow and benefit our biosphere.
So here are some other interesting things about horse chestnuts
The Latin name is Aesculus hippocastanum
During the First World War, there was a campaign to ask for everyone (including children) to collect horse-chestnuts and donate them to the government. The conkers were used as a source of starch for fermentation to produce acetone for use as a solvent for the production of cordite, which was then used in military armaments. The process used could use any source of starch, but the government chose to ask for conkers to avoid causing starvation by depleting food sources. But conkers were found to be a poor source, and the factory only produced acetone for three months; however, they were collected again in the Second World War for the same reason.
The first recorded game of conkers was on the Isle of Wight in 1848
Horse chestnut trees were often planted in Germany to help keep the beer cellars cool, the large canopies and shallow roots that did not affect the cellars, but helped keep them cool, these evolved into what we now know as beer gardens.
Sadly playing conkers has fallen out of favour with children due to the game being banned in many schools and the rise of mobile phones etc.
You can see my post on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/pg/newforestaquaponics/posts/?ref=page_internal
To see how we have got on and what we are doing with conkers, and even purchase some to support New Forest Aquaponics please see the 2021 post.