Sept/Oct 2015 issue, Essential Herbal
Catherine Love www.stillroomherbs.com
I love autumn. It is my favorite of all the seasons. Though it is harvest season for many, it is also planting season for me (Texas). Autumn is the best time of year for planting perennial herbs here, and many of the cool weather loving herbs thrive in our typically mild winters, so they are planted in the fall as well.
Once the brunt of the hot weather is over, I begin harvesting and cutting back the heat-loving herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and mugwort, in order to make room for other less heat hardy varieties like cilantro, parsley, dill, nasturtium, and calendula. These are less aggressive in growth as well, and they do nicely tucked in between perennial herbs that will grow more slowly in the fall and winter.
Once the garden is planted, it is time to have fun stirring and stitching up some things with the herbs that have been recently harvested and dried. This fall I will be making:
· Sweet Lavender Rose sachets- Just a simple blend of dried lavender, rose petals, and corresponding essential oils tucked into pretty patterned sachets that I sew from fabric scraps. Sometimes I forgo stitching altogether and simply cut small squares of fabric with pinking shears, gather the herbs into those and finish with a ribbon tie. To make things even simpler, I buy premade muslin bags from my local Natural Grocer. With those all I have to do is fill, pull the drawstring and tie. If I want to dress them up a little, I stamp them with an herb leaf or design before I fill them.
· Sweet Dreams pillows- These are great for putting the abundant mugwort harvest to good use by blending it with other relaxing or dream inspiring herbs such as: rose petals, lavender, and lemon verbena; along with a few drops of lavender and rose geranium essential oil. I make these as flat muslin pillows to tuck into a pillow case. When I make them for gift giving I use a pretty floral fabric or something that will correspond with the recipient’s décor.
· Rosemary needle pillows- These make a simple but useful gift for the seamstress. Sew a small rectangle bag, fill it tightly with dried rosemary and stitch closed. The rosemary is said to help keep your sewing needles sharp when they are poked into these bags. At the very least, they make a fragrant spot to store extra pins and needles.
· Moth repellant bags- Sew small bags with a hanging loop (those premade muslin bags work well here) for draping over a clothes hanger in the closet or to tuck between sweaters and other clothing that moths tend to ruin. A mixture of cedar chips, lavender, rosemary, southernwood, and wormwood are mixed together with a few drops of lavender essential oil for these.
· Mediterranean Medley potpourri- This is a refreshing blend of my most hardy herbs- rosemary, sweet marjoram, thyme, lemon verbena, bay leaves, and lavender; with dried pot marigold and blue bachelor’s button flowers thrown in for color. A few drops of lemon and marjoram essential oil will enhance the fragrance. No real recipe here, I tend to just mix as I go adding more of this or that until it pleases my eye and nose. Use what you have on hand and experiment!
These are just a few ideas I have for fall herb crafting. I hope they inspire you to create something new to you with the herbs from your harvest.
My motto is: Have fun and see what happens … with herb crafts, it’s hard to go wrong. I have had some funny flops, like the lavender cookies that tasted awful. I posted the recipe on my blog before I taste tested them because I was sure they were going to be delicious. When I realized the mistake I quickly named those Bathwater Cookies, posted an update on my blog, threw that recipe out and started over, posting a new recipe later. It is ok to admit when we mess up, we’re all human and laughter (even at our own expense) is good for the soul.
I encourage you to continue exploring new ideas and trying new things with herbs. Share the successes and laugh off the not so successful projects. There’s always tomorrow and another herbal adventure to enjoy!