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Herbalist's Journal > SEPTEMBER 2011



     SEPTEMBER is mellow. It can be Summer or Fall on any given day and there is a hint of promise in the air...of rest, of a change of pace. All the work left to be done in the garden is the joy of final harvest and filling the larders  for winter's meals.

September 1 ~ As all gardeners are prone to do, I am thinking of next year's projects and changes that will finally create the perfect gardens.....For most of us,  perfection NEVER happens, but our dreams keep us able to weed, fight off bugs, spend way too much on seeds and plants, put up with aches and pains and deal with the inevitable failures that occur every season. These wonderful Fallish days are perfect for dreaming too. It is cooler, so easier to work and the current garden is right in front of me--showing the good, bad and sometimes ugly results. So, this month, while I am digging up my daylilies and iris to divide and transplant, planting my garlic, sowing a cover crop, storing dried herbs, collecting seeds and exhausting every possible means of preparing tomatoes,  part of my mind will be focused on the tasks at hand....but part of me will be dreaming of...... What new paths I can create? Where can I expand my sweet pea garden? What attractive way can I keep my hollyhocks from falling over?......next year.

September 3 ~ My contractor came today to brush hog all around my gardens--an area that has gotten completely out ofcontrol in the last several years---i got rid of WEEDS!! Yes, I said it--WEEDS!! Living in the country, I have plenty of weeds--most of which , I love and leave alone, but these were menacing the cultivated teaching gardens and so it was done. 2 hours later, I had a civilized area where several honeysuckles and wild roses were uncovered----so now, all i have to do is figure out what to do with all this new space--leave it and keep it mown, or plant something new? He als pulled my grapes up off the ground to find several beautiful and almost ripe bunches of Concords. Once he builds a stable arbor (to replace the cheap one I erected years ago that started to fall down almost immediately), I'll have all the jelly and wine grapes I need. It has been raining a lot and threatens to undermind the remainder of the garden harvest---so this sort of thing is just what i need to keep me excited about next year.

September 4 ~ Most of the replacement plants I put in a few months ago have taken well and by next spring, I think my gardens will be back to normal. My back is killing me from all the tilling and pulling, so my chiropractor is going to be pretty busy with me!

We are visiting family in a few days and so I can now do my favorite thing........pack up jars of fresh made jellies, fresh  garlic, apples, onions, tomatoes, squash, pickles, culinary herbs (newly dried and some small plants).

September 5 ~ Back to school in a few days--so EVERYONE in the family is starting on a daily regimine of immune system builders and herbal vitamin/mineral. elementary school germs are brutal, so we will begin with elderberry, nettle tea, chamomile (to relieve stress which causes a suppression of immunity).

Speaking of Chamomile---my grandson was pretend playing making chamomile ice cream. Actually, that sounds as though it could be very delicate and good, so we will make some when visiting my daughter---steep the chamomile in the milk, add lots of vanilla, a little honey.....I can see it being good with lemon cake and some assam tea.

September 6 ~ Got a call from a client wondering what to do about a gum infection. My suggestion was to clean well and swab the area after each meal with a Q-tip soaked with goldenseal/echinacea tincture--full strength. It worked--but it is important to allow no more than two days for healing to occur--or significant improvement--because gum infections can be dangerous in terms of heart health and systemic contamination. This was a new infection--not a long standing festering one. While really ingrained abcesses can be cured this way, it still needs careful observation and knowing when to call it quits and visit the dentist.

September 13 ~ The Fall garden is so full of surprises. for me, this is due to yearly oddities brought on by weather....and because by this time of th egardening season, i have totally forgotten what I planted and sometimes, where I planted it!! Forgetfulness has its rewards.

So, after being away on vacation for a week, my first garden inspection revealed a new batch of strawberries ripening, Aloes sending up bloom stalks (I have had aloes all my life and never seen them bloom!), the entire flower and herb gardens reblooming from my severe deadheadings of last month.....and my cabbages ar ready for eating and sauerkraut making. But the deer are also eating my chard and bok choy. In the greenhouse, all th esalad greens and beets/radishes I planted last Thursday, are up already. I can revel today, but I have some quick thinking to do because there is a possibility of light frost on Friday.  So, decisions have to be made about what to bring into the greenhouse for the year, what to cover and let continue for awhile yet in the garden and what to just let go of until next year.

September 15 ~ A rainy day to freeze all the produce I picked yesterday and make out a store list of all my herbal winter needs.....and a day of rest for my much abused back. I  have to start taking some St. John's Wort tincture ("chiropractic in a bottle") and horsetail to strenghten my ligaments/muscles/tendons.

September 16 ~ All of my herbs are coming back strong and if the weather is willing, I may be able to get 3d cuttings of lavender, horehound, catnip, hyssop, St. John's Wort, etc. Most of them will not be as strong as the first two cuttings and so will be labled as such. The milder herbs can best be used as additives to other preparations, for kids or animals, for craft purposes and as "social tea" ingredients.

September 18 ~ made a fabulous Apple Crisp for my husbands birthday dinner--from our own apples. He planted trees YEARS ago and never got anything more than small, mishapen, hard, sour, wormy fruit. This year was a great apple year in NYS due to weather conditions and it certainly contributed to our harvest, but I also hope that the treee has simply matured and will forever more put off a decent crop--because that Crisp was delicious!

September 20 ~ It seems as though summer left rather suddenly last week as it has been damp and rainy since--but there is so much more gardening to do----so I raced out during a brief sunny period to dig, divide and replant some long neglected daylilies--which I got done, but which also necessitaed a quick trip to the chiropractor. digging is back brakingwork and as we age, we must garden differently to accomodate changing bodies----this is anothe rpiece of advice you should take in spite of my own, frequent negligence.

September 21 ~ I was able to follow instructions and did get my greenhouse plantings done on time. he result so far, is that my salad greens are well established and after only a few weeksm am already able to harvest some chard, radishes and narturtium. It will become more of a challenge as the weather cools, but root establishment before cold weather seems to be the major predictor of success. The next two weeks will find me slowly accepting the end of summer and bringing in all my tender potted plants and digging parsley, a few pepper, cabbage, mint, tomotoes and maybe  zuchinni plants.

September 23 ~ I am totally over run with basil. I planted alot because I use alot, but this was an very good year for it and as fast as I could cut it, it grew twice as big. But--there is only so much pesto you can eat in a year and as most know, basil does not dry well (unless you have a good dehydrator), so, what to do ?!?!? Make basil jelly, basil ice cream (tastes very good with fried pastries), chop it fresh and add a bit of water and spoon into ice cube trays for quick additions to soups/marinades, add to butter and then freeze----be creative--but don't let it go to waste! It is very tender and even the lightest frost or sometimes near frost will nip it and change it s flavor. I will pot some up and bring into the greenhouse, but it will not last all winter, though longer than if I simply had it in a window in the house. It is finicky, so putting it away safely is easier than keeping it alive.

September 27 ~ I cut some yarrow and southernwood branches today to bring in as weevil deterents in my pantry. These two strong smelling herbs do the trick. A more organized person might dry and put these herbs in a neat sachet, but I just lay the sprigs in the back of my cupboards and shelves.


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