MOUNTAIN SPRING HERBALS
Herbalist's Journal > SEPTEMBER 2010


 

      ~ September is still summer during the days, but the nights can get surprisingly chilly....... it is absolutely another transitional month, where we are invited to at least THINK about slowing down.  Plants are growing slower, chickens are laying fewer eggs and with everything ripening or already harvested, it is time to savor the bounty even though there is still lots of work to do............

 

 

 

 September 1 ~ Yesterday morning I reminded my construction crew about laying out my labyrinth. After the initial head scratching while looking at the plans (I think they were hoping I had forgotten about it!) , it was layed out by late afternoon-with a mix of local shale and bluestone.  Mine is a pre-Christian classic, left handed labyrinth, remnants of which have been found all over the world--including the western US. Some people like their morning cup of coffee--and so will I during the winter, but when the snow has melted, I will be out, first thing in the morning, doing my walking meditation near the herb gardens.

September 3 ~  Another near casualty of the construction was my huge nettle bed--which is not in a very convenient location, but they only grow where they want to grow. The folks installing our solar panels (on poles out in the field) were going to have to drive their rigs right over them.....but I argued for almost half an hour before they gave in and figured out another way into the site. Defending stands of non-descript "weeds" makes me sound crazy--and I bet construction crews all over this area have tales of the weird lady who yells at them when they step in the wrong place. Anyway, nettles this time of year are not harvestable for food or internal medicine, but they are still good to run an arm or leg through to help with arthritis and considering all the uses I have for them the rest of the year, it was well worth my time to be their defender.

September 5 ~ Everything is taking forever to ripen, I am still in full corn picking mode and my tomatoes are trickling in.  Peppers are paltry, at best. Because  of all that is going on this year, I really do not have time/energy to deal with the usual onslaught of veggies that occurs in August/early Sept.---so maybe the garden decided to do me a favor  and slow it down to make it manageable for me.

September 7 ~ I am getting ready for the final weeding/harvest of herb beds (I leave the veggie garden weedy for the rest of the season to protect tender plants from early frosts). I will use these in medicines/cooking spices I make for myself--as they will not be optimum--but still better than anything I could buy. I have tons of oregano and thyme, lemon balm and chives. I do have to wrap my head around my new ability to grow these herbs fresh all year in the greenhouse--but while I get a feel for that, I am playing it safe and harvesting/drying as much as possible.

September 9 ~ The solar installation crew have run over my newly installed labyrinth TWICE--in spite of a  large orange cone set near it. There are now a few broken stones--which they have agreed to pay for. It has not kept me from really enjoying the early morning walk through--and my grandson thinks it is cool too. I have it situated so that I enter the path with an elder tree to my left and a lilac to my right----to me they signify the opposites of life and growing year- elder, the ending and lilac, the beginning.

September 10 ~ My lettuces are really slowing down (lots of heat), so my salads are getting smaller and a more bitter--however--the bitterness quality begins to spur the immune system  to fight of fall/winter colds. But, the chards and beet tops are still wonderful and I also have lots of flowers to eat--like all the pumpkin/squash/nasturtium and a second wave of chive blossoms. Just because it is too late for new veggies to grow from the flowers, doesn't mean they need to go to waste!! They really  dress up the fall salad and add something exciting to crunch on!

September 11 ~ I am prepping the green/root growing bed in the greenhouse and am astounded at how much dirt is needed for a 2 1/2x6 foot bed. I bought bag after bag of topsoils/compost/peat--and still came up short. I have never really paid much attention to soil before. We are blessed with nice dirt--and over the years have only needed to ammend it with our goat and chicken poop and liquid seaweed. But this time, I had to find a place with organic topsoil/compost, pay attention to drainage capability and calculate how much I would need. We will see how successful I am in the months to come.

September 12 ~ I am getting second blooming of many wild and cultivated plants--this time around, it is purely for pleasure. I will not be making anymore Flower Essences or waters this year--or pressing any flowers. Instead, I will simply enjoy them---in fact, I just came in from smelling the roses.

September 14 ~ I am always more comfortable with old fashioned things....but we just had a solar array installed in a field near to the garden.......right next to my stand of sunflowers--the natural and high tech so closely intermingled is appealing--even to me--in a strange way.

September 16 ~ I spent yesterday getting my greenhouse growing bed ready and setting up all my growing tables---now it is time to get planting. I have prepared myself for MANY first year failures--live and learn! The dumbest thing is that I am holding back because I don't want to get my new greenhouse DIRTY!!!!! Ridiculous and one of my best reasons to procrastinate yet.

It got down to the upper 30's last night, so the basil will be the first herb indoors. It will survive until a light frost, but it gets tough and  spotty.

Today, my handymen, Ford and Bill, are coming to do lots of little jobs and a few bigger ones--like building me a permanent  double compartment compost bin and pruning dead branches that have been interfering with some other plant growth.  With the greenhouse, I will have need for yearly batch of fresh compost and since we have had no goats for a few years, our garden is suffering for lack of their manure, so the extra nutrients will be appreciated....until we get our barn rebuilt and get new goats.

September 17 ~ My grandson came home from school yesterday with a cold-- I loaded him up on the elderberry syrup he helped me make  last month. There was improvement after an hour and this morning, he is almost symptom free. But, the best part is that he said "I made this medicine...it tastes really good".

September 19 ~ Every day the light is changing just a bit, but there remains a brightness that inspires new gardening ideas even as this season draws to a close. I apologized to my neglected gardens and promised to make up for it next year...and.....I caused some excitement as I chose plants for my first greenhouse overwintering experiment. This year, I will either take cuttings or dig up: borage, chamomile, lemon balm, chives, oregano, basil, parsley, mint, thyme. I will grow nasturtiums, dill, calendula from seed and pot up one each of tomatillo, cherry tomato, pepper (sweet and hot--which are gorgeous plants this year, but barely producung fruit--they will get a reprieve and second chance).

September 20 ~ It is so new, that each morning I have to remind myself to walk the labyrinth What a joy. Everything has changed around here in the last few months--including schedules, so it is a welcome way to re-center myself so I can focus.........and it gets me out in the herb garden earlier than ever before--just to enjoy being there (it is never good to work in a wet, dew filled garden).

September 21 ~ it came to me to concentrate my holiday gift giving around creating various food "rubs" this year. A vegetarian myself, I don't judge---but many of my meat eating friends have already made the switch to eating, local, organic, pasture raised animals. The same rubs can be used on veggies to be roasted, steamed or in marinades/dressings, as well.

September 22 ~  Thank god for zinnias, sunflowers and sweet peas in the northern garden. Along with our native asters and goldenrod, this is a beautiful time of year--without the worry of deadheading. A frost is right around th ecorner, so prolonging the lives of annuals is uneeded work. after a garden season, though, their cheery beauty keeps spirits high as tomatoes dwindle and your back is aching.

I had forgotten totally about my scented geraniums to take into the greenhouse. It is embarrasing, really, how many things I left undone in the garden this yearand much of what got appreciated and tended to were the result of comments /questions from various construction workers. Yesterday, a repairman was fixing some flower boxes. After inspecting their work this morning, I turned around....and there were my geraniums waving at me.  This is going to be a nice warm/sunny fall day, so I will use some of the scented geranium leaves in a pitcher of lemonade. Luckily, plants can be forgiving.

September 23 ~ more plant casualties of construction!!  Returning home from shopping, I found my handymen had arrived and were working away at my new double compost bin----upon closer inspection, I noted that they had severely cut back my Wormwood (artemesia)--thinking it was a weed in the way. A weed and in the way, it was--but I did not want it cut as I had assumed the bin would be a few feet in the other direction and out of the way of the wormwood--not the other way around. I still see some tiny sprouts from the bottom stump and so I will wait for spring to find out if the wise saying applies to plants--"what does not kill me will make me stronger". With  the long stalks they chopped down, I'll make a few impromptu wreaths.

September 24 ~ Getting my compost pile started while it is still warm outside.  Standard Organic gardening techniques are a little behind those of Biodynamics--which is sort of organic gardening on steroids. Biodynamic composting makes use of a few herbal compost accelerators--the ones I have growing here are nettles, chamomile, yarrow and valerian. They can be crushed/chopped fresh or added as a dry powder by poking them into the middle of the pile and it does speed up the composting process. I will add mine to get things going quickly because, ideally, Spring, not Fall, is the best time to start a pile as it has summer's heat to start and maintain the needed heat to complete the process.

September 25 ~  In a shady area, I found some Jewelweed blooming---usually, by now it has long gone to seed .Aside from attracting hummingbirds and being gorgeous, it has  use as an aid for skin rashes caused by poison oak/ivy, nettles and sunburn. Having missed the opportunity earlier, I harvested the leaves and flowers and made a tea and then made ice cubes of it. In the spring/summer-----when needed, I can just rub the ice cubes on burns or melt and bath an area irritated by poisonous sap.

September 27 ~ Slowly, I am filling up the greenhouse. Today, I wanted to dig more plants to bring in because it may lightly frost by Friday. But....it is rainy today, so instead, I am finally planting seeds. Yesterday, I planted the bed with greens, lettuce, beets, chard, etc--but today is growing trial and error plants. I am going to avoid my yearly weakness of planting too many seeds in growing flats. I am going to put ONE seed only in each cell and live with the results. 1 tomato, 1 pepper, 1 cuke, 1 melon. I do not want to expend to much physical/mental energy on plants that may not do well----if they grow well?....... great--there is always next year to go whole hog.

September 28 ~ Had a call from a lady whose 88 year old husband just had a colostomy and is also in the mid stages of Alzheimers. Doctors had given him ENSURE and a barbituate to keep him nourished and calm. She was not happy with that as Ensure is simply a sugary, vitamin filled, artificial nutrient source. He is able and willing to eat and is no stranger to his wife giving him herbal medicines--so I suggested that she add some Slippery Elm powder to his mashed potatoes, oatmeal, applesauce--or any other soft food he ate. This will allow him to absorb more nutrients from his foods, keep weight on and heal internal mucosa. I also suggested a good LIQUID nutritional supplement such as Floradix because it is natural, easy to digest. Because he is eating eggs and a fairly wide variety of foods--including greens, my thought is to avoid the iron containing Floradix for a few months (as Iron is difficult on ill tissues when coming form an external source other than foods--can lead to nausea, headaches)--and then begin using the Iron fortified Floradix later. I also suggested a liquid form of a B complex for his nerves and Rescue Remedy when he becomes agitated. Keeping in mind that his lady is also in her mid -80's, I reminded her to feel free to also take Rescue Remedy if she feels she needs it from time to time!

   When herbs can not cure, they can/should be used to maintain health and a feeling of wellbeing by allowing  the body to stay nourished and able to mitigate the side effects of many useful, though harsh drugs.

 

September 29 ~ Everything I planted on Sunday is UP already. It is kind of daunting and amazing. I covered some cardboard with foil and set inside the growing bed to reflect light back to the plants to keep them from getting leggy or leaning (especially on the increasingly cloudy days) . In small planters, I can always turn the pots to avoid that--but this bed is unmovable.

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