Right now, most of us are enjoying the warmth of a balmy summer. Some may even have it way too hot. Plants are growing, reaching up and out to catch the rays of the Sun. Flowers are blooming and gardems are blossoming. Many use this time to read and rest and lie in the Sun. Others, however (like myself), are well aware that summer is fleeting and its bounty will be gone in a few short months. This is really the ideal time to plan and prepare for the colder months, especially in a northern climate.
Many of our favorite herbs and flowers have been used for decades to help us with our maladies. Mint has long held a reputation for settling stomachs when they are causing us distress. It’s handy to have a patch of it although you don’t want to put it anywhere near the rest of the garden because it will take over. We have it all by itself in a space where we can mow around it.
Mint is easy to dry. If you have a pilot light in your over, you can spread it out on a cookie sheet for a few days. If not, it’s best to hang it up on a porch or other breezy, dry place. I have it hanging in a cascade to dry in order to best take advantage of my hooks.
Blackberry leaves can be dried to use as a tea for diarrhea. These bushes are a weed here in New Hampshire so we let them grow on the perimeter of the property where we can keep them in check with the lawn mower.
An even better way to use the blackberry is to utilize the root. Wait until the fall when the energy of the plant has gone down into the root. Then dig it up and wash it off well. Cutting it into small chunks, place it in a jar with high proof vodka. It should be in a ratio of 1/3 root to 2/3 vodka. Set this in a sunny window for a couple of weeks, shaking often. Strain out the root pieces next and place the jar in a cool, dark place. A tablespoon or two of this can really help.
Thyme is a very healing plant. An elixir of this can be made from the flowering plant.
Put the stems, leaves and flowers in a pot. Cover with water. Set on the stove in a slow boil for several hours or unti the water is ½ to 2/3 gone. Strain out the thyme pieces and let cool down for a while. Add some raw honey while it is still partically warm and refrigerate. A tablespoon or two of this can ease a sore throat or help a cold or flu last a little bit shorter time.
Feverfew is an herb that can greatly help with headaches and many forms of inflammation. I have a bunch of it drying on my porch hanging from a small chain.
What sorts of things do you like to use? Get an herb book or two and see if you can put some away for the winter. In a short few months time, you will be ever so glad that you did.