If you are considering growing Chamomile, know is difficult to keep up with, but absolutely worth the effort. The easiest way to harvest it is to cut full stems of it, place them in a basket and pick off the flowers while you are sitting in the shade or in your house. The flower heads dry beautifully in just a few days if placed in a basket and frequently stirred. The scent is very much like an apple, with a little something extra.
Plan to harvest it every day, in season, just like Calendula. If you cut the stems before you leave for work, just bring them inside and cut the flowers off that evening. If you are a stay-at-home Mom, enlist the kids to help. In my experience, they usually enjoy the task.
This spring seems extra magical to me. I missed out on most of it last year, as I was stuck inside due to shoulder surgery. I am making up for lost time, this year.
My husband, Tom, enjoys building furniture and all manner of wonderful wood-working projects. Our next door neighbor is also a woodworker, and owns a mill, but has nowhere to keep it. By agreement, we store the mill on our property across the road from our main property. The mill belongs to our neighbor, and the extra property parcel belongs to us. It works out great for both of us to keep the mill over there because both guys can easily access it, and all the sawdust stays with it.
We were gifted in February with a huge pile of 50-year-old, untreated, cedar telephone poles. Tom did some other millwork for a guy and they became friends.
We have wanted to build raised beds for strawberries and a kitchen garden, so Tom milled up some of the telephone poles. The wood was beautiful and clear with tight knots.
Tom and his woodworking buddy started building the raised beds, and within a day they were done.
Whoo-hoo! Strawberries fill one of them, and we’ve planted seeds of Chives, Tarragon, Cilantro, Rainbow Carrots, Green Onions and Genovese Basil in the other one. I can hardly wait for fresh Basil Pesto.
Our Rose Rugosa is in full production, and I am able to fill a basket every day with its fragrant petals. The flowers are lovely in many herbal recipes.
Calendula is coming on, and Yarrow blooms will open in the next few days, too. Calendula flowers have to be picked every day, and their stems are so sticky my hands get coated with resin. But their scent and herbal usefulness make it worth it. It won’t be long until my Apothecary cabinet is full again.
Don’t you love fresh flowers on the kitchen windowsill in the spring? Batchelor Buttons beckoned, as they were the first to bloom.
C’mon, Lavender and Elderberry! Happy spring to all.
July was a hot blur of summer herb and garden crafts, canning and distillation. Oh, and trying to keep up with crabgrass from outer space. They have to be as they were three feet in diameter!
I know it is autumn at last, because the Elderberries are finally ripe. I’ll make syrup and hard candy lozenges from the berries as they help my family stay healthier.
The distillation above was lemon balm, elder leaf, clary sage, lavender, holy basil and peppermint. It only produced a little bit of essential oil, which I added back in to the hydrosol.
The bug spray seems to work rather well! I added a few drops of Eucalyptus Citridora essential oil to the distillation. Scientific studies recently tested it in comparison to Deet and other leading bug sprays. They found it as effective against mosquitoes as Deet. We don’t normally even have a mosquito problem in our area, but this year they are a frequent annoyance.
I recently planted a flag in one of our spare bedrooms and claimed it for my sewing room. After years of collecting fat quarters or more of yardage I liked, I have a decent fabric stash, so I plan to dive into it to make coasters, sachets, dream pillows, etc., for upcoming holiday gifts. With just my husband and I at home now, I have discovered being an empty nester does have an advantage or two.
Homemade diaper balm is a lovely gift for new babies. If you are familiar with salve making you can easily make it yourself. It is made of gentle herb infused oil of Calendula, Chamomile, Plantain, Lavender and Rosa Rugosa. I don’t add any essential oils of any kind, but the scent is of Rose petals, Chamomile and Lavender and bee’s wax. I will happily share my recipe if anyone wants it!
This is the first soap I ever made that contains all my own distilled essential oil and hydrosol, and Lavender bud I grew myself. It smells incredible. Now, to wait six weeks for it to cure!
I am so thankful for all of our green friends. They are adaptable and helpful, no matter what. (even if you forget to weed around them!) Calendula, Echinacea, Hyssop, Horehound, Sage, Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Catnip seem to be growing to a double beat this year. I just made a second batch of Basil Pesto, and will hang further bundles to dry. Next up, all kinds of peppers and canning. What kind of harvest activities are you doing?
I live with my husband and best friend in an old farmhouse on two acres, in a small, unincorporated Ag town in the Pacific Northwest. We grow culinary and medicinal herbs, and I wildcraft for several plants that we don’t grow. Since I recently retired from my day job, I am thrilled to have more time to just be.
Nature magic just IS. It exists, for you, the very moment you are open to seeing it. It’s near you in the city, in the forest, by the sea, by the light of the sun and moon, in a baby’s first breath, in deep love or the flash of a lightning bolt. It’s a magical life!
Nature spirits ride the airwaves of the playful breeze that weaves through our valley, and the currents of the wild river just the other side of a wetland preserve that parallels our property. Pear orchards border two sides of our property, offering our two feline friends lots of room to chase meeses. The sky is dark at night, except for the stars. Frogs and crickets rule! This place, more than any area we’ve lived, is balm to my soul.
Our large vegetable garden and composting keep us busy in the warm weather. In the winter, knitting, quilting and other crafts make the enforced indoor time enjoyable. Putting food by, making herbal remedies, soap, lotions and potions creates a cozy, handcrafted life. We have always been interested in learning as many homesteading and country skills as time permits.
I embrace sustainability and am categorically against all genetically modified foods, Big Pharm and much of what our government is up to. If you visit my blog and are of a similar mind, please leave a comment so I can visit yours, too. I look forward to connecting with you!
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