Friday, September 24, 2010

Slim Pickin's

We've had a hot dry summer, and the things I'd typically forage at this time of the year show a lot of stress. One way to look at it might be that they've been through the same challenges we've been through, so if I want to use them medicinally, maybe they are just perfect. Usually we try to find robust, plump specimens, but just maybe these stubborn fighters will be as good or better. Most of the things I use medicinally over the winter were gathered weeks ago, but I'm going to do a little experimentation this year to check this theory on myself. If you don't hear from me.... heh heh.
The calendula is going to seed. I picked the dry parts from the plant and threw them back into the garden where it would be nice if they came up next year (instead of all through the yard). The seedheads are often included when one purchases dried calendula as whole flowers. The first time you see the little seeds floating in oil, you'll think they are curvy little worms. Don't panic, they're just seeds. It is possible to purchase just the petals, but the resinous buds and flowers are most useful for salves and balms.

We have several patches of various mints in the field beside my house. My brother-in-law gives them a wide berth because he knows I use them for tea blends. Sometime in early July I asked him to mow them so they'd start fresh. He must have thought I said DON'T mow them, so it was only a few weeks ago that they were mowed. They are finally to a point where I can gather the tender leaves that make up a little rosette. I like to pick that part so there isn't really any stem to deal with after they're dry.

I gathered a small amount of passionflower to dry and send to a friend across the country. The tendrils of the passionflower plant fascinate me, and I always add lots of them to the mix, going on the Doctrine of Signatures - this batch is specifically for circular thinking that is keeping her awake at night, so the curly tendrils make sense. There were also a few nice figs begging to be lunch, so who am I to say no?

On the way back up the hill, I stopped and thought how pretty the chicory and the goldenrod look together. Behind them is a spectacular sage plant, and above them a still-bearing elderberry. The sunshine on them was perfectly autumnal.
The Sweet Annie is in just the right stage for wreath-making. It is also the stage that makes allergy sufferers miserable. Ah, but it smells sweet!

It's still hot out. The leaves are trying to turn, but the dry weather is just not helping. They may just give up and fall off.
Soon it will be time to dig some roots!
Beauty Berries - couldn't be more aptly named. The color is so unusual and... beautiful! They can be made into jelly, too.
1 1/2 qts beauty berries
2 qts water
Boil 20 minutes and strain
To 3 cups infusion, add 1 envelope Sure Jell and 4 1/2 cups sugar
Boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from burner and allow to stand until foam forms
Skim off foam
Pour into sterilized jars and cap

1 comment:

Penelope said...

Hi Tina! I just discovered your blog...it's great! I am an organic gardener obsessed with herbs. I used to make "poor man's saffron" from dried calendula petals.

Looking forward to following your blog...

Happy Gardening!
Penny

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