July 25 ~
There have been floods, 2 weeks of extreme heat, threats of blight and, thus, the weirdest gardening year I can remember. A few days ago, the weather pattern changed, putting us back on track for some sort of normalcy, but it remains to be seen how the gardens will produce when all is said and done. Prediction of what would do well or not used to be pretty straightforward, based on spring weather or particular pest problems, but all bets are off this summer. It seems it is going to be a day to day, take what you can get sort of season.
Many plants are late in maturing and many are early, but right now, tons of things are ready for harvest....herbs, weeds, berries, flowers, cones, mushrooms, veggies, grape leaves. If the weather cooperates for several days in a row, and with the help of my eager 7 year old grandson, all the harvesting can get done.... the herb hoarding will be intense. If you want to prepare for the remainder of the year and have the herbs on hand to make medicinal preparations for your family, start now, while summer is at its peak. Think of what illnesses affect your family the most, what illnesses are being predicted ( a bad flu year?) and what you might need on hand for a well stocked natural first aid kit.
Making preparations is a multi-step and drawn out procedure. For instance, if I pick some Yarrow today, I can dry (which can take over a week) some for teas/footbaths and make an oil with the rest (taking at least 6 weeks as I use a cold process for oils). Then, I can go ahead and make a salve or cream from that long steeped oil. If I want a tincture, that too needs to macerate for 6 weeks before use. Whatever I decide to do, though, the herb has to be ready for harvest. I need to be watchful and ready when the plant is ready, not usually when it is convenient for my schedule. After years of my particular family health issues, I know what and how much is needed to get me through a year and still have some left for clients and friends. But if this is new to you, take the time to evaluate each family member, decide what type of preparation is best for their needs and begin to harvest or purchase what you need.
For help in deciding what you might need for family members of all ages, check out my e-book "Wholistic Healing for the Family" http://www.mountainspringherbals.netdzyne.com/ebook.html
My herb drying shed has been woefully empty this year, with some plants just not harvestable, as weeks of wet and humid weather made for poor conditions to harvest and store high quality plants. But, by the end of this week, I hope to have taken advantage of second harvests and reasonable substitutions. Then, there are all the plants that are maturing in this spell of decent weather.....and my shed will be full of herbs hung to dry, spread on screens or filling loosely woven baskets. It is probably one of my favorite sights and feelings of satisfaction....to work with the plants that grow around me and know that they and I, can care for my family.