Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Closing the Harvesting Season

I've been getting a lot of people asking me when I'm finally going to finish the three part blog series on The Vaccination Controversy. After several years of repeating the same pattern, I finally have to admit to myself that from the middle of April until the end of November my intense travelling schedule and harvesting herbs take up so much time that it doesn't leave me a lot of opportunity for writing. I'm not complaining. I'm following my heart and my path and love my work and still able to spend a lot of time just being with the plants and Nature. It requires prioritizing and setting boundaries. Following our heart, allowing time to just be and the quality of our relationships with people (human and non-human) and the world we live in is how we cultivate quality of life and allow space for healing. If I don't allow that in my life, how can I possibly help other people to do it? So, some things (like writing!) rarely get done during the busier months.

It's been a great spring, summer and fall! Lots of experiencing, learning, harvesting medicines and doing what a herbalist does. My travelling schedule for the year ends early to mid November and now I'm spending a lot of time harvesting the last of the root herbs that I need before the ground freezes for the winter. Judging by the way things are flowing, that will probably be in a week or two in this area.

Harvesting valerian root (Valeriana officinalis).

Today I harvested valerian root (Valeriana officinalis), marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) and dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale). Tomorrow I'm going to harvest wild sarsaparilla rhizome (Aralia nudicaulis), wild ginger rhizome (Asarum canadense) and a bit more valerian root.

My friend Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) has offered me the opportunity to work with a different expression of his medicine.
I am going to harvest some of the rhizomes and roots of goldenrod this year so that I can deepen my relationship with this amazing herb.

The last couple of years I've been feeling called to start working with the rhizomes and roots of Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). Up to this point I've only used the aerial parts of this herb. I'm also going to harvest a bit of Solidago so that I can begin to learn this new medicine. After that I'll be done harvesting for this year – and just in time!

Washing marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) in our laundry tub.

Since I make my tinctures from fresh herbs I need to harvest enough of each of these roots or rhizomes to get through at least 15 months: 12 months until I'm able to harvest them again next year and 3 additional months until next years tinctures will be ready because I allow them to macerate for at least 3 months before I press them [see: Making Medicine, Part 3 of 5]. Therefore I need to know how many bottles of each of these tinctures I still have on hand and how much I typically use in a year in order to determine the quantity that I need to harvest. I'll usually add an extra litre (or half litre for herbs I don't use as much) to be safe. For herbs that I used 3 litres or less per year I will sometimes harvest enough for 2 years so that I don't have to harvest every herb every year.

Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) washed and ready to chop. Note that dandelion maintains a rosette of smaller leaves through the winter.
I keep some of the younger leaves that are in good shape and include them in my dandelion root tincture.

Although the travelling that I do is related to my work and involves hanging out with great people in great places doing great things, I am happy to be at home for the next 5+ months. I'll be able to work on some of the other things that I can't seem to manage the rest of the year like doing a few blog posts (including hopefully being able to finishing the series on vaccinations!) and continuing the process of converting some of our classroom courses to an online format. The latter tends to take up most of my time through the winter months.

Stay tuned! More to come...