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Herbalist's Journal > October 2009

October is MY month. I was born  in early October and am a typical Libra. Everything about Fall-the crispness, brightness, chill, smells of leaves and wood smoke, apples--and Hallow's Eve. This is the true month of Transitions between summer and winter- so it is busy, yet the call to slow down is strong...


October 1 ~ Rain continues, but I ventured out to the garden to get some lettuce and onions..and none too soon!! The broccoli/brussle sprouts/cabbages and chard are putting on quite a show right now--but the deer are taking advantage as well. I put lots of the floating row covers over those crops to keep away munching critters--I am still getting Nasturtium flowers

October 2 ~ EVERYBODY is ill with a conglomeration of things--no one cohesive set of symptoms. Again, a call to improve general immunity, rather than focus on individual symptoms. As we move into the cold/flu season, it is really important to have all your remedies available and ready to use. Nobody feels like making remedies or doing too much thinking when they are sick. Have everything labeled/at hand and maybe an instruction sheet available if the main caregiver is the one ill. VINEGAR is my top choice right now--it calms nausea, changes the Ph balance of the body to make it unattractive to germs and it allows the body to rid itself of toxins in a gentle way. 1 Tbsp. a day-taken in teaspoon size increments is all that is needed for an adult--much less for kids.

October 3 ~ My birthday--favorite month, my Saint's name-Teresa, means "harvester"--which is my favorite garden task of all! I surveyed the pumpkin patch--a good year for them--I have over 60, heirloom varieties of pie, carving and eating pumpkins. I use a lot, but always depend on friends to come clear out the patch

October 4 ~ Pulled up all the onions  to cure before storage--but brought in a few to cook up some stewed apples with rosemary and thyme. Getting the root cellar prepared too- by opening the cellar door at night and closing during the day to keep the temperature down.

October 5 ~ Getting ready for Halloween-my FAVORITE holiday. Some of the herbs that have gone to seed make perfect Hallows decorations-like Yellow Dock, Fern, Burdock, Nigella--very eerie arrangements, bouquets or nosegays--tied with black ribbon.

October 6 ~ How bizarre!! Those who have taken classes with me know I ask them to leave a 3 foot square patch of lawn unmown for the summer so they can see all the great edible/medicinal weeds that will grow if left alone. Much to my surprise today--I noticed that I have a pea patch growing in my lawn!! Between rain, business and laziness, I haven't mowed grass in almost two months. When I picked peas back in July, I would sit in the yard and shell them--and ALWAYS a few pop away-into the grass--so all the rain and no mowing allowed them to reseed and flourish--they are ready to BLOOM and being frost hardy, I may get a meals worth. The lack of mowing also gave me 2nd/3rd crops of chickweed, shepherd's purse and heal all. While being diligent makes for good gardening, it is always reassuring that often, negligence has its place as well.

October 9 ~ Bringing in scented geraniums for winter. The smell makes me want to make a pound cake so I can embed some of the leaves--that's my favorite way of using them.

October 10 ~ This years leaves are not too spectacular--rain is the reason, I suppose--but--the garden and sunflowers continue their show. My grandson has decided they are his favorite flower (kids love big things). I'm still getting calendulas that I will use in potpourris and for poultices

October 11 ~ Day of gathering lots of things from the garden. We barely missed a frost last night. All the squash are in the cellar, along with onions and all the pumpkins are on the porch and lining the pathways to the house. Picked cabbages to make sauerkraut (must use FRESH ones--even after being picked 3-4 days, they lose enough moisture to not be good kraut candidates.

October 12 ~ Made a bunch of herb syrups--using up left over lavender, thyme, basil, anise hyssop. Luckily, because the harvest of veggies was so poor-I have room in the freezer to store them all. So, I'm set for any fall/winter celebrations/get togethers as I can make sodas/ice creams/cake toppings/savory sauces for veggies.

October 13 ~ It seems lingering illnesses are everywhere this season-colds/sinus problems mostly. Hippocrates believed that wind and dampness were the two weather conditions most likely to foster ill health. He instructed the use of herbs and activities that promoted dryness and "stable air". So Grandmas were right-always bundle up and drink warm fluids (which aid dryness by promoting evacuation of the system of mucos/acids and excess tissue buildup). I add to that making sure your home environment is free of toxic fumes from sprays/cleansers/fake air fresheners/candles. Teas of thyme/oregano/elder flower; syrups of elderberry, ginger; soups of Miso, chicken or barley--these are the healers

October 14 ~ "Stewarding" my sauerkraut--skimming of the scum-which needs to be done every few days. It really is sort of like having another pet

October 16 ~ SNOW!!!!! But it is to get warmer--so all my cool weather crops will continue on. Dug up parsley to bring inside and cut back the rest so it will come back next year. Technically, it is  a biennial, but if I never let it bloom, it will come back well for 4-5 years before needing to be replanted. This is a bit early, but if the cool trend continues, I will plant garlic soon-before soil gets too hard.

October 18 ~ Processing pumpkins for pies and breads and used some to roast with beets/parsnips/carrots for supper. I roast the seeds at the same time with soy sauce and kosher salt.(Roast your squash seeds too--they all taste the same) The seeds are one of the best prostate maintenance foods and pumpkins help get the digestive system geared up for colder weather.

October 19 ~ Collecting seed pods/dried berries and interesting branches to save back for making stamped wrapping paper and cards for the holidays. Nice weather for working out and putting the garden to bed--still digging potatoes. Dig a little burdock everyday. Digging too much at once is hard on my back!!

October 21 ~ Getting daily calls about colds. If you already have one, lots of fluids (warm and mineral rich)--and don't forget the garden stragglers (beet greens/chard/carrot tops/spinach--all building/energy restoring foods and easy to digest)

October 23 ~ Dug all the potatoes on the ONE totally warm/ sunny/dry day this week and have them safely secured in the root cellar. For dinner-we had POTATOES--with thyme and rosemary and parsley. Changed over the daily herb tonic to add in herbs for extreme dampness-which is usually not so much of a problem this time of year. added in more Calendula, oregano, elderberries. TWO cups a day instead of my usual ONE--too much weird weather tends to overcome attempts at maintaining health.

October 24 ~ Pumpkin carving day!! This is one of my favorite yearly traditions. Since I can remember, I have not missed one year. Did 9, with faces in both back and front. Then roasted all the seeds in various batches (one with cayenne for my husband and daughter, one with just salt, one with brown sugar and vanilla and one with soy sauce and garam masala for fun). The pumpkins provide fun and the seeds provide health--a perfect food! TIP: Leave all the stringy stuff attached to the seeds alone--it looks yucky when raw, but once roasted, it is DELICIOUS--and adds even more nutrition to the seeds.

October 26~ This has been a year when the property went neglected in many ways-for many reasons. My foot bridge over my stream was washed out in spring flooding and it just got fixed last week. That is my link to the really wild part of my property--where I do a lot of herb gathering, pick blackberries and take long walks. Walking down there to go over the newly fixed bridge allowed me to not forget about all the wild artichokes  that are ready for harvest.

October 28 ~ Going up the hill over the bridge, I searched out my Witchazel grove. With most of the leaves off all the trees, it is easy to find the short, non descript tree. Its silhouette is sort of weird/wavy-unlike anything else--but what really makes it stand out is that it BLOOMS in Oct./Nov. Bright yellow, shaggy blooms on leafless branches. I prune branches to get the bark to make witches tincture (just like what you buy in the drug store) and use it for skin conditions or an after shave toner and for hemorrhoids.

October 29 ~ My aunt sent me her hawthorn berries so I can tincture some and use others in tea.

She als always sends me cool/obscure herb books she finds at garage sales. Living in NM, the herbals often refer to Native American /South American herb use--i always learn something new and it is a treat to have some winter reading material to sit and drink tea with.

October 30 ~ OK--so I REALLY like the winter holidays-so today I inventoried what herbs/supplies I have and need to buy for gift giving this year--raw materials for various gift baskets/blends, etc. Will make out an order tonight and get started on projects

October 31 ~ Samhain! Time for another bonfire--this time, I'll offer up some of the last veggies left in the garden, make some rosemary Remembrance cookies for my ancestors, light my 9 pumpkins and go Trick or Treating with my grandson. This is a good night to use a mugwort dream pillow--to dream of the future.


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