September – Fresh Start

Hey there,

I know I’m not alone in thinking that really, September is the start of the new year.  Everything is new and beginning again.  I don’t like to rush the seasons…OK, now I’m fibbing…we all know how I feel about Winter – it’s OK for a little while, but then, enough already.

It’s not officially Fall yet, but it’s in the air.  Especially this year, after the “Summer that wasn’t” here in Southern Ontario.  I love the Fall and it’s normally such a short season, but September and October – FAB!

There are many activities art related in my area in September and October…all the things I love: shows, tours, classes.  The food is amazing with the fresh harvest.  I get the urge to make things with my hands. There’s a coziness to it all and yet, I still have my gardens…it’s still too early for “Jack” to take them from me.  Ahhhh  Mums and pumpkins and all the rich colour.  The sky is a deeper hue.  The fields are dotted with gold, purple, white, rust and warm shades of brown.  Darker at night a little bit earlier, but not too early yet.  Cooler for sleeping, blue jeans, maybe a light sweater or jacket, but most days, you can still wear sandals and Pearl still wears her pretty summer wheels. YAY!  What’s not to like?

Mercury has been in retrograde and I have not been at all inspired to write.  Mercury being the planet of communication – you see where that came from.  Mercury plays a big role in my birth chart.  Not an excuse, just a statement.  Besides, I’ve been spending every spare moment outside and not in front of my computer. There will be lots of time for that later.  I’m going with the flow.

Round two of seeds have been planted in the veggie gardens.  Peas, radish, spinach and lettuce, hoping for a second crop in the cooler weather.  Swiss Chard is still going strong.  I’m harvesting tomatoes daily, made some dill pickles from my cucumbers (where I often find Niles peeking out from beneath the vines…)

← Meet His Royal Cheekiness, Niles!  Looks like he’s wet (again) from being out in the rain (or in the garden).

There are squash on the vine, green beans are yummy as are the yellow zucchini. Carrots and beets processed and round two planted.  I’ve really enjoyed my veggie gardens this year and so glad that my plan from last Fall – the apple harvest bins – have worked out really well.  They seem to be just the right size for the amount I need.  Easy on my back and easy to plant and harvest – not large enough for me to go too crazy with amounts planted – but you’d be surprised at how much I can sneak in. 🙂 A saunter out to the barn in the morning with my scissors and my basket is the routine…what will I bring in today?  Happiness.  Soon, I’ll be harvesting and drying the culinary herbs. Oregano is already in the jar.  Hello homemade pizza!  Can you smell it?

 

 

Some of my harvest!

Oy, the drying frenzy hasn’t really started yet, but it’s coming.  As is the bringing in of the plants. Very soon. My big pot of Rosemary has not had a happy Summer.  Even sitting out on the deck on the South side, where it sits every Summer, it’s been too wet.  It was actually happier inside the dry house in the Winter. I’m hoping it perks up and am thinking about bringing it in now.  I’d hate to lose it, it’s a good sized plant and one that I use often in Winter for flavouring.  On my bucket list is visiting those countries where it actually grows as a shrub…one day.

Not a wild greenie here in Canada, but Rosemary is an awesome plant.  It tastes and smells divine and is the herb of remembrance.  Even Shakespeare said so!  One of those culinary, curative and cosmetic herbs that may be used year round.  Not only tucked into bridal bouquets and wreaths for centuries, but once used as a religious herb as well.  It has been burned as incense in ceremonies as protection against evil and at funerals. Sometimes mixed with Juniper to cleanse and purify the air.  I like to use it for adding flavour to roasting meat and potatoes.  I will also make an oil with it for use in cooking and/or the bath.  A very clean scent when mixed with Lavender.

The oil from the plant leaves is antibacterial and anti-fungal.  A good “breathing” herb to relieve headaches. Used in a tea, it makes a good mouthwash.  All good reasons to bring my potted plant in sooner, rather than later!

What else am I harvesting?  The Moon’s energy.  Tonight she is full in Pisces and the Sun is firmly planted in Virgo.  So an excellent time to dream big, as Pisces is ruled by Neptune and is the sign of dreams, whereas Virgo, a very grounded, Earth sign is the one to get things done and make those dreams a reality. A powerful combo.  Win-win!  The September Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, a little earlier this year.  Watch for the orange colouring.  I will be straining some bath oils this evening and using the preserved energy in the cold months ahead.

Today’s colour is white.  Appropriate in speaking about the Rosemary in bridal bouquets and wreaths above.

What will you dream of under this Harvest Moon?  Make it big and then make it happen.

Until next time,

-Debra

August is for Asters, eh!

aster meadow

Hey there,

August is for Asters (A).  Get it?  Like my Canadian pun? 🙂  When you hear the word “Aster”, I’m guessing you imagine the New England Aster that grows abundantly throughout the fields and meadows in the Autumn – the purples, pinks and whites.  Gorgeous! You would be right, the New England Aster is a member of the Asteraceae family, but only one of about 20,000 plants!

Bees and butterflies love our friends the Asters.  Birds enjoy the dried seeds in the winter months – so leave them standing in your garden after they’ve died back and enjoy the show!

August is all about Asters and I thought we’d talk about them before we leave August behind.  Even though the flowers for August are traditionally Gladiolus and Poppy (a little weird here because Poppy blooms in June, although she is producing seed, and the seeds can be used in quite a different manner).

Here in Southern Ontario, we are heading into the Labour Day weekend, the last long weekend of the summer.  Dare I say that the next long weekend is Thanksgiving (yikes).

Even though my favourite season is the Fall, let’s stay in August and summer for a bit. 🙂  Although I have to say that in the woo woo world, Fall started on August 1st – Lammas (or Lughnasadh) – which is the first of the three harvest festivals honouring the Sun God Lugh.  Also the half-way point between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox.  Corn and grain were traditionally the focus of the harvest.  If you live in or drive through the country, the farmers are starting their field harvest around then. The August full moon is also called the Corn Moon (one of a number of names) – definitely a Fall thing.  I didn’t mention it then – no one wants to hear about the harvest festival on August 1st, when most are enjoying summer and vacation.  You’re welcome. 🙂

Anyhoo, Asters.  Who else is in this family?  I won’t give you the whole list, but a few familiars would be Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Elecampagne, Arnica, Burdock, Calendula, Chicory, Mums, Cosmos, Feverfew, Sunflower – I could go on, but you get the drift. They all have that “cone” type button centre with rays of petals surrounding the centre to make the flower.  I won’t go all techie on the parts of the flower, but now you know they’re all part of the same family.

August is for Asters!

Asters are a useful plant:  some you eat the flower, some you eat the seed, many are medicinal – containing active alkaloids which are very helpful, but can be harmful if not used correctly as well.

“For every action, there is a reaction”
-Newton

coneflower

Everyone, I’m guessing has heard of Echinacea, or Purple Coneflower?  It has been bred to produce some beautiful colours and is lovely in the garden.

The wild, medicinal plant is used in cold medicine to combat bacteria.  Many say it doesn’t work – it’s gotten a bad wrap, quite literally.

A few years back it was “herb of the year”.  You saw the Purple Coneflower on many “cold remedies” in the store.

OK, first of all, you have to use the correct strain of the plant, second, you don’t use the flower – you use the root – in a tincture, not a tea and third, the tincture is taken under the tongue, not swallowed.  When you swallow something, it goes into your stomach, right?  When you take a tincture under your tongue, it absorbs into your bloodstream.  Two very different things.

Does it make sense how plants are used incorrectly and then it’s said they don’t work?  Hmmm?

calendula

Then there’s Calendula, or Pot Marigold – one of my favourite herbs.

This little beauty may be eaten (the petals), it is medicinal and I use it in my skin care products. The petals may be used as a Saffron substitute.

Calendula is good for all things “red” externally on the skin. This includes acne, abrasions, rashes – including diaper rash and wounds, to name a few.

You just need to let one or two flowers go to seed in the Fall in your garden and it will self seed for your garden next year. Very pretty and cheerful to boot!  Lovin’ the Calendula.

Arnica

 

Arnica is another pretty flower – I make an oil from the flower.  Very useful for pain relief in aching joints and arthritis.

You’ve seen this on packaging in the drug store too, I’m sure.

 

 

 

feverfew

 

Feverfew looks like a cross between a Daisy and Chamomile (also both asters!).  Feverfew leaves, eaten fresh, relieve and prevent migraine headaches.  Isn’t she lovely?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are just a few useful beauties from the Aster family as we round out August (eh).

So, notice how many of the Asters mentioned above are in the gold/yellow/orange colour family?  These are Leo colours – Leo being the primary zodiac (or “pathway of animals”) sign in August.  As luck would have it, we are under a Leo Moon tonight in her fourth quarter.  Time for recognition and appreciation – full of fire and drama. We are coming up to to the dark New Moon on Thursday, September 1st later this week – time to draw back and plan for the next Moon cycle.  Perhaps to think about the summer that is coming to a close and the next season just around the corner.

Today’s colour?  Scarlet.

A quick note that Mercury, the messenger planet, has turned retrograde today until September 22nd. Reminding us to be mindful about all things communication and travel.  Double-check that email before you send…my computer has me seeing scarlet today – it’s is a little slow, OK, a lot slow Grrrrr – fingers crossed you get my communication today. 🙂 Mercury.  Uh huh

I hope you’ve enjoyed all things Asters in my last August post for this year. Coming into September and looking forward to all things fair and harvest.

Until next time,

-Debra