MOUNTAIN SPRING HERBALS
Herbalist's Journal > May, 2009


    

MAY 1, 2009~ MAY DAY                                      

This is a busy day for herb lovers and those who love lore. "He that would live forever, eats SAGE in May"- particularly on this day. Every year, my sage is just beginning to leaf out here in cool Central New York, but I nibble a bit--not too much. On my way to the sage bed , early in the morning, I am barefoot--as that is another imperitive for May 1st--to walk barefoot in the morning dew to stay young and flexible. Then, on to the shady front yard where the sweet woodryff grows to pluck a few sprigs to steep in wine or juice--or water. This is also a day of gifting--to leave a May Basket  full of flowers on the doors of neighbors. This year, however, I am sending a few May Day e-cards instead. Alas, no Maypole dancing this year.

MAY 2 ~ This year, gardening will be bittersweet. My brother-in-law died suddenly. Wayne was a "Landscape Artist" and spent a few weeks in my gardens years ago- sharing his plants, splitting and re-arranging mine. All of my students who have enjoyed my gardens, have him in part,to thank. While I'm working, I remember him in each transplant. I will also miss being able to converse about plants  with him by their Latin names. It is no coincidence that we send flowers/plants to those grieving.

 MAY 4 ~  Every spring day some new plant pops up--like greeting a long lost friend and I also notice some plants that did not survive, though some new surprise has taken it's place. Not being a formal gardener, I can enjoy the unpredictability
MAY 5 ~  New gardens put in several years ago already need major attention--which I think is going to have to wait until next year--which i say EVERY year!. This spring, however, it is warmer sooner, which unfortunately doesn't add much benefit--just 2 more weeks of weeding and mowing.
 MAY 6 ~  OK, this is the time of year--almost to the day each year, I start to panic. Everything in the garden that is not supposed to be there is growing way too fast and it is too rainy to till, mow and work in the dirt for hours  a day. Today, I once again was so grateful I bought a Mantis Tiller -quick and easy to handle and gets into small places in the herb beds.
MAY 7 ~  Started picking lovage--which now allows me to discontinue buying celery for the rest of the year. Also, tintured violet leaves and flowers. I have to drag out the Dehydrator I bought last year--almost forgot I had it.
MAY 8 ~ First cutting of grass. Careful to cut around Mullein , Yellow Dock and Holyhocks--which takes a lot longer, but all of theseplants will be much bigger and eventually look very nice

MAY 9 ~ First Asparagus of the year--it is a miracle--one day there is nothing and the next day it is up and ready to eat.

MAY 10 ~  Planted more lettuce and put up trellises for sweet peas and roses

MAY 11 ~  Received a health history from a client-lots of herbs/foods for her concerns are floating in my brain.

MAY 12 ~ Trying to hold to the Biodynamic planting schedule when weather and scheduling permits. today I seeded heirloom pumpkins, melons and Lebanese cukes for an early start in the greenhouse
 MAY 13 ~ Preparing vegetable gardens for planting is difficult when a lot of the "weeds" are useful. Before tilling, I had to dig/move some mullein plants and  pulled up wild mustard, chickweed and wood sorrel to add to salads. 
 MAY 14 ~ Heavy rains, so today was spent doing inside chores. Restocked bottles of tonics (Black cohosh/Dong Quai/motherwort/Chaste Tree berries) 
MAY 15 ~ Plant shopping today. Gone-again-is my pledge to not over buy. A friend and I go to a few nurseries every year right after Mother's Day to get bedding plants. I also look for replacements of herbs that didn't overwinter, or something new. This year, i went for something old--a bunch of different mints (pineapple, chocolate, etc) This is pure craziness and I have no idea why I bought them, except that all mints are comforting in a really profound way. They are pretty, look nice and smell wonderful--not to mention the tastes. BUT--they are so troublesome to grow. They have to be planted away from any other plant you really care about or they will over run them and they can't be planted close to each other because they will eventually interbreed. AS of this evening, I have no clue where I will plant them, but trust my instincts that they will come in handy for something later this year.
 MAY 16 ~  In between rain showers/storms, picked some nettles and chives for a yummy quiche
 MAY 17 ~ A hard frost is expected for the next few nights. This has been a warm spring, lots of plants up ahead of normal and most people lulled into planting out tender annuals and perennials. Early/warm spring or not--there is always a hard frost toward the end of May-up until the second week in June--especially if a full moon occurs during that time--which it does this year.
 MAY 19 ~ Planting cool weather veggies and perennial herbs furiously. The cress, parsely, oregano, and hyssop are now up enough to snip some for salads.
Made tinctures of dandelion leaves, motherwort and yarrow. Picked motherwort and mints to dry for teas.
 MAY 22 ~ When it is warm enough that I can sit and have breakfast on my porch three days in  a row, I know summer is officially here-no matter what the calendar says. Those early morning quiet moments, sipping tea, is when I can think through what needs to get done that day--and sometimes, as I sit looking at all the flowers and plants, I get inspired to try new things, but this morning, I was only reminded of deadheading tasks, the need for watering already and that the hummingbird feeder needs refilling. Having a rain barrel is a godsend.

MAY 23 ~ Cleaned out herb drying shed. All the herbs left aver from last year were bagged and used for animal/pet remedies, compost accelerators, are now being steeped in water for fertilizer. Those that are still potent enough to smell good can be used in potpourris.

 MAY 24 ~ Before mowing grass, I had to harvest medicinal weeds from the lawn--chickweed, plantain, dandelion, garlic mustard.

MAY 25 ~ After letting plantain wilt overnight, made oil of the leaves to serve as a base for salves later

MAY 27 ~ Bees swarmed today--a few weeks earlier than usual--another sign of climate changes here

MAY 29 ~ Working on a treatment plan for a client I am consulting with to  suggest some herbs and dietary changes.

MAY 31 ~ Picking first greens from garden-cress, spinach, mesclun and chive blossoms

 

Tina Finneyfrock

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