It’s “Little Fall!” I call the time when plants are telling us that the wheel of the year has turned, but the calendar still says summer Little Fall. Like a “tween,” little fall begins the changes that take the plants from active towards dormant.
Little Fall has arrived! The calendar might say it’s still summer, but the plants are saying otherwise. It’s the time when the wheel of the year is turning, the plants are showing signs of letting go of their seeds, the days are ever growing shorter and nights longer. Leaves are beginning to change. I have been watching the plants all year. We’ve had a late spring, dry May, and mild summer here in the PNW. I told my apprentices to watch how the plants play catch up and will keep moving swiftly to an early fall.
It has gone as I expected – plants exploded joyfully into life, grew amazingly green and lush, and are already preparing for dormancy. That means berries such as elderberries are almost ready now at the end of August when normally they would be ready mid to late September. Students are sending me pictures of ripe hawthorn berries. Grapes are ripening! Tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters! Watching my garden, I’ve been harvesting like a madwoman, putting up food for the winter already. It will be interesting watching autumn and winter unfold.
Seeds of Change
One of my favorite things to do with the seeds that are so plentiful this time of year is to make herbal salts. Simply grind up fresh, not dried, seeds straight from your favorite plants in a food processor with mineral salt. 1:2. That means 1 part seeds, 2 parts salt.
My favorite salt is pink Himalayan salt. Lots of minerals to start with and adding fresh seeds give a boost of flavor, nutrients and even some medicine!
Think about using seeds from:
Pumpkin – take off hull before blending with the salt
Late season greens can be turned into tasty herb salts as well!
In the garden:
I’d like to share with you my favorite way to store kale to not only keep its nutritional value, but to add to it and “get the medicine to the people in ways that they will enjoy taking so that healing can occur!” It’s a long motto, but one that I share with my students in every workshop and program. Many people are aware of the need for protein to keep the muscles working. What is also needed are macro-minerals such as magnesium, calcium, manganese, and potassium. These directly help to maintain normal nerve and muscle function. Magnesium and manganese help regulate blood glucose levels. The cool thing about kale is that, not only can we harvest during the hot summer, but it thrives and grows in the cooler autumn months.
In the wild!
Soon, my apprentices and I will jump over the mountains to harvest elderberries and mullein to get ready for the upcoming cold and flu season. For my take on elderberries and their medicine, read my elderberry article. We’ll also harvest ponderosa pine resin to make pine tar to add to creams and soaps for its antimicrobial effects. Burdock root will be dug up, chopped, and dried to add to winter soups and stews. We’ll dig up dandelion roots for roasting. A decoction of roasted dandelion roots with raw cream or nut milk and a little chai spice makes delectable cool weather fare. Hawthorn berries and rose hips will be ready soon. Both are choice for dealing with grief, transition, and even helping to strengthen veins, arteries, and capillaries, which is super helpful to those dealing with varicosities.
While I’m sad to see summer come to such an early close, autumn is my favorite season. Everything just gets so cozy! Warm days and cool nights are my favorite. I love the bit of marine fog we get in the mornings that burn off to sunny afternoons. I hope we have a relatively dry autumn, but that’s just wishing. Be well, my friends, and I leave you – Wild About Plants!