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Herbalist's Journal > NOVEMBER 2011


    November is my "taking stock" month...I can quietly look back over the Spring/Summer and note successes and failures, feel satisfaction with a freezer  and shelves full of food and herbs from the gardens, make plans of sharing it all with gifts in the coming month.....

Thanksgiving comes at the perfect time.....enjoy the bounty.


          "Old Frost, the silversmith has come: His crisping touch is on the weeds."


November 1~  If I haven't mentioned it before, I am addicted to Almanacs! It is my ritual to buy several Almanacs on November 1st, as today is the traditional start of the Celtic year. Some current almanacs still respect this and go from November to November. Others have gradually adjusted to the more modern/popular January to January. I have a about 7 different types of almanacs--all over the house and while they contain much of the same information, each has its own specialties/quirks/charm. If you want to slowly learn how our ancestors lived with the cycle of the year.....and if you want to learn how to manage life (even the mundane or practical, but necessary aspects) a bit easier by following the flow of natural forces, then investing in an almanac...or two will get you started.

November 3 ~ I finally got  my cabbage into the root cellar--but not before taking a few small heads and braising them in butter, onion and garlic....with anise seed and dill. That is one savory side dish that builds the immune system and just makes you feel healthy. My Grandmother used to call those "substantial" foods.

November 6  ~ Put away your leaf blowers!!! My grandson helped me rake up 5 nice piles--one for him to jump in, of course---and then they were all used to: start a new compost heap, put on my raised beds of strawberries, asparagus, herbs and roses and on the regular gardens.... and what was left on the lawn, I mowed over for fertilizer. To blow together and then bag up a nutrient rich and FREE material and then go out and buy a new bag of fertilizer/compost/humus is such a waste of time.

November 8 ~ Picking brussle sprouts--another ignored side dish. Theses taste delicious cut in half, roasted with a bit of olive oil, dill seed and whole seedless grapes.

November 10 ~ Finally a rainy day! Damp and cool--perfect for sitting with a note pad and catalogs to decide on holiday gifts. So far, I know I'm making herbal pet care kits, some spice mixes and baked goods with tea as a major ingredient. Since I had all the tall weeds cleared out a few months ago, I now have access to formerly unknown rose bushes with beautiful, ripe rose hips--which can be packaged with tea making instructions......I have all day to sit, sip and be creative.

November 14 ~ I got my first seed catalog of the season today! Ridiculous!! I put it right away without even looking at it-that is a January pleasure. I'm still not quite done with gardening THIS year. With the greenhouse and what is left outside, this time of year allows you to see how powerful herbs really are. I have less, even the greenhouse plants will grow slower the colder it gets, so I must use less.......but even in lesser amounts, herbs are so flavorful that they can change the entire meal, or make the same vegetable taste different each night with a  change of herb topping--carrots with dill, carrots with parsley, carrots with basil.........and that small nibble each day as I tend the plants is enough to stimulate my immune system.

November 18 ~ The last few days have been spent hobbling about on a sprained ankle. I tripped on the roots of ivy planted  in my front yard. Arnica was my immediate remedy and then I reached for an ice pak, a jar of homemade ligament salve--but I had to wait a day before I could make it out to my comfrey bed to find a few remaining leaves in good enough shape to wrap around my ankle. I am not a good patient and am anxious to get back to my regular activities outside.

November 22 ~ For lack of any definitive sign from the weather, I am simply going to have to call an official end to this year's gardening season. It keeps dragging on--way past my stamina!! Which leads me to acknowledge what I always try to avoid--CHANGE. Many good folks believe change is good--whereas, I don't always buy it....and the best case scenario finds me resisting it, often at my peril. But, this year has forced it upon me and I have relented and been very pleased. We got some farm toys--an old tractor/wood hauler and my industrial ride on mower, a rechargeable hedge trimmer and an extendable tree limb lopper. So, after I got over feeling old because I needed these new tools, I have come to realize that  making these changes has and will continue to allow us to enjoy and care for our property and gardens more...and be able to share them with others. They will allow us to continue full force gardening for many more years. We will get older, but adjusting and using different ways of gardening works hand in hand to keep us from becoming less active. So, aside from the last brussle sprouts I picked today and the parsnips to be left in the ground until spring, the new tools and machines are all put away..... I am going to rest until spring.

November 29 ~ My aunt wrote me today that she has not been taking her hawthorn tincture regularly because se has started using a big water jug to ensure she gets enough liquids and asked if she could just squirt some tincture on her tongue. It is better to squirt UNDER the tongue as it will be absorbed quicker and will not leave a prolonged aftertaste---but it is also perfectly fine, simpler...and I think, more effective, to put her day's worth of tincture into her water bottle and sip.

November 30 ~ As of today, it is going to be consistently colder--so I am able to return to my herbs, which have been neglected just doing general garden work. The holidays are here, so I returned this morning to my overflowing herb cupboard to figure out herbal tonics to put together as stocking stuffers, dig out those needed to make my pet care kits and choose tea flavors for baking. It is good to be back inside.


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