Friday, May 22, 2015

Late Spring Harvest

Not sure about you - but I haven't even completed my planting for the season; however, I have also already begun my season harvesting.

My Calendula, which I planted in mid April, have been blooming at a wonderful rate. I harvested another 10-12 blossoms this morning to add to my sheet of blossoms drying on the island in my kitchen. Here is a picture of one of my patches of calendula in the garden.
I say one of the patches, because I have 4 patches of 5-6 plants in each patch. These 20+ plants will provide me with sufficient harvest for all my uses during the coming year - or lets say it usually does.

Here is a picture of this past week's harvest of calendula laying on a sheet on the island in my kitchen drying.
I do usually dry my herbs just laying on a towel or sheet in my kitchen. The exceptions to this rule only occurs when we are having a period of very high humidity here in south central Pennsylvania. During those times, I may pull out my trusty dehydrator or turn on the oven for a short time. Using the microwave is another fast and easy way of drying your harvest, but one that I just don't like to use unless I'm in a big rush. Two minutes (using 30 second intervals) is a fast way to dry any harvest - but then you are also exposing the harvest that you are going to be using for medicinal things to the frequencies of the microwaves. At this point in time, I'm not a firm believer that those waves and frequencies are totally healthy for us.

So why do I use so much calendula or pot marigold (calendula officinalis) in a year's time?

Calendula is a staple in most of my salve recipes because is works so well on all skin wounds, bruises, sprains, sores, boils, etc. The vulnerary tendencies of this herb are a wonderful protection against infection and also work to stimulate cellular growth.

It is also a mainstay in my tincture or tea formations when I need something to help with cramps or muscle spasms due to it's antispasmodic tendencies. I say muscle spasms because even when I'm blending a tincture to help someone to pass a kidney stone, calendula works it wonders to help with the spasms that the movement of the stone may cause. Cramps, this is something we can all relate to. The body is cramping because it is trying to rid itself of something that doesn't want to go, i.e. a bowel movement, or even menstrual cramps; or it is cramping because of over exertion. How many of you have over done it in the garden on any given day. I know I have; and when this happens, I always add calendula to my cup of tea before bed.

Calendula has some additional healing tendencies, such as increasing perspiration and the flow of bile, but it is not my go to herb for these needs.

So if you haven't yet gotten your calendula or pot marigold in the ground, I recommend that you do so soon. This is not a plant that does well in the heat of summer and if I haven't gotten my harvest by early July, I'm going to be waiting for next year.

Happy harvesting!!!

Friday, May 8, 2015


Have been spending quite a bit of time in the gardens over the past couple of weeks, and they look so much better for it!!! Yesterday planted my tobacco and sage plants for ceremony work and today hoping to get my basil plants in the ground.

I've saved a special spot for the 12-15 basil plants that I put in each year. One near the garden walk so I can brush against them when I walk thru and enjoy the release of their essential oils and lovely fragrance. Because I have respiratory issues, asthma and a tendency for bronchitis, I'm always looking for things to help my lungs perform at their best. Basil, while not recognized as a star performer for the respiratory system, but more of a performer for the digestive system, is always a welcome addition for me to help cleanse my lungs.

Since I cannot see the mountains on either side of my small valley due to the haze, I believe summer is on its way and there will be no more sever cold spells like we have had in the past couple of weeks, so it is now safe for me to plant this tender annual in the garden. Pictures to come.

Do you have a favorite basil recipe or use? I would love to hear about it.

Happy Gardening!!!