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Herbalist's Journal > SEPTEMBER 2009

September 1 ~ Fall is in the air and this month is one of balance between the light and dark times of the year ~ Autumnal Equinox. Another busy month for herbalists, as the plants die back and now need no maintenance, the roots are ready to be dug and harvested--and that can't even begin until at least one frost. So, while putting plants/gardens to bed, attention has to be paid to that which has been hidden all year.

Usually, I do not clean off my garden beds--laziness is a big part of it, but I also like seeing things re-seed, and to some extent, the greens re-fertilize the soil...but this year, the wet weather and other factors have led to mildews and blights (my entire tomato patch was affected, as was much of the Northeast)--so, I will pull up diseased plants and put them in my fire pit to be burned during the Equinox bonfire in a few weeks.

September 2 ~ Harvesting odds and ends-- not enough to dry, but too much to waste---what ended up in my basket were three mild nervines--lavender, chamomile and skullcap--so i threw them in a jar to tincture together in what will be a nice, gentle formula that could be used for anybody--or pet.

September 4 ~ Full Moon--hard to sleep!! Corn is coming daily and I take a separate basket to the garden with me to harvest the silk. I like to shuck the corn in the field--quicker and less mess and easier to carry back to the house. While the silk that hangs out of the ear is nice and dry, the part still in the husk is not, so I put the basket of silk in a warm airy/dark shed and  wait several days, then bag it up and save for urinary tract formulas--and as a tea for soothing sore throats.

September 6 ~ Another mad dash at last minute herb harvest - while due to the lateness of the season and poor weather conditions earlier, these herbs are not the best, but will do for food seasoning and remedies in a pinch--still better than anything store bought as their nutrient deficiencies are compensated for by the freshness. Drying coltsfoot, vervain, more hyssop, borage, goldenrod leaves.

September 8 ~ Checking local hawthorn trees to see when the berries will be ready and also the elderberries--soon!! Felt tlike I was coming down with something over the weekend, but took a big spoonful of elderberry syrup and it went away--but i am running low on syrup. Last year, I planted 3 elderberry trees and a few actually have some berries already, but i will leave them alone this year to mature and am relying on wild bushes up on my hill to supply me with medicines this year.

September 10 ~ As Autumn starts in less than a few weeks --and I am behind, as usual, I HAVE to get the Fall tonic together for  the family. Already, the weather and light is changing and cold/flu season is underway, so tomorrow, we start drinking  2-3 cups per day.

Starting to package herbs that have been drying in the shed before the full dampness of Fall sets in--and getting the Root Cellar ready for potatoes/onions/carrots and squash.

September 11 ~ This has been a wonderful year for salad greens. My first planting of lettuces (from way back in April) are still going and have only just started to bolt and get a wee bit bitter. Some of it I can still cut way back and keep it productive--especially since it is cooling down again--but once you see lots of white milky sap when you cut, the taste wll suffer. But--all is not lost!  Today I tinctured a large jar of old, sappy lettuce. That sap has the same--though milder effects as poppy sap. Not addictive, but it will help as a mild sleep aid, will calm jangled nerves and give minor pain relief.

September 13 ~ PESTO!!!! No threat of frost yet, but my basil is looking spotty, so I made lots of pesto. Pesto can be made of any herb you like--I make a nice parsley pesto and one of a mix of oregano/thyme/chives. I keep mine in the freezer as it never freezes all the way through, so I just dip out what I want about an hour before a meal so it can come up to room temperature. Use it on ANYTHING-pasta, bread, as dressing, on corn.....

September 15 ~ Leg Cramps and colds--have hit. I had to quickly get together a few tinctures--digging through my cupboards late at night--many people in my husband's family get wicked leg cramps and he seems to get them worst at this time of year (also his birth month). Made a tincture of relaxants like skullcap/catnip; calcium sources like raspberry leaf and connective tissue support from horsetail.

Then, I and my grandson started getting a sore throat. Seasonal transitions/weather changes always make for weak immune response a we are caught off guard. Got out my frozen ginger/thyme and elderberry syrups and gave him some homeopathic chamomilla.

September 17 ~ Fought off th ecolds--but the season for it is early, so the Fire cider I made and the seasonal tonic will have to be taken diligently.

September 18 ~ Tomorrow begins Rosh Hashana--The Jewish New Year. The traditional foods are Apples & Honey--two foods that are perfect for aiding immunity this time of year. The original purpose is to insure a sweet" new year--what better way to do that than to be well?

September 20 ~ A few days of light frosts have kept me busy picking all the basil/corn/peppers and nasturtium leaves. Many years, when plants have been very healthy and productive, I spend lots of time protecting them from early frosts--sometimes prolonging harvest into late Oct/early Nov. This year, though, i am ready to let it all go and end the season. There is still [plenty going on in th egarden--cabbages/broccoli/greens/carrots/onions/beets/turnips and parsnips--and waiting to bring up the pumpkins.

September 21 ~ The elder trees I planted last year are producing some berries--and some are still in bloom!! It is cold season, so instead of collecting the berries to make syrup, I'll leave them alone this year, but am nibbling a few every day to build immunity and to keep in touch with these wonderful plants. Prepared for tomorrow's Mabon (Fall equinox) bonfire. There are a few squash and lots of calendulas left to leave as offerings and tonight, I'll make some maple ice cream to  serve after a special dinner of herbed veggies.

September 22 ~ FALL/Equinox--BALANCE. Today is a great time to take stock of the year, so far, and see if you are on track- in all areas. This is a time of colds/flu--so take extra care to evaluate your general health. There is an old custom of catching 12 falling leaves--one for each month of the year-- to insure good luck. Starting today, if there is a nice breeze and leaves are falling, try to catch some. It is a LOT harder than it sounds, but is a lot of fun and gets you laughing--and works up a sweat!!

September 25 ~ Dug potatoes and cut some rosemary to bake with them. Very yummy and hearty.

September 28 ~ My grandson is under the weather today--threw up a little. I made him a bowl of applesauce with a bit of Slippery Elm Powder in it- to "bind" his digestion up. Slippery Elm is pleasant tasting, but very mucalaginous--so only  a little at a time or it changes food texture to something...really unedible

September 30 ~ An end to a perfectly strange gardening month. After a week or so of beautiful weather, everything changed to WET  and COLD--leading to even more ruined crops, rotted seeds and illnesses. This should have been a very busy week outdoors--bringing up pumpkins, bringing in squash--but out in the garden they still sit and I concentrate on herbal things I can do indoors such as stripping off dried leaves and storing them--and preparing for a talk to the local Garden Club. I have hopes for October (my favorite month), but so far, the weather forecast is not promising.


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