Autumn and the Herb Garden

I cannot believe it’s the first week of Autumn here, summer seems to gone so fast! We have had a very dry summer, officially reaching drought conditions a month ago and there have been fires in our area this summer for the first time in quite a few years. With Autumn comes the dying off of the garden and I have been busy preserving all the herbs as they also reach their end. This year we extended the herb garden with our last ornamental garden pulled out and planted. I LOVE the herb gardens and learning more about their uses – love cooking with them, using them in soaps and herbal creams and skincare….I still have much to learn but I really enjoy it! This year we have had Mint, Soapwort, Parsley, Feverfew, Nasturtiums, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Peppermint, Comfrey, Basil, Lemon Verbena, Echinacea, Rosemary, Tarragon, Calendula, Thymes, Oregano, Don Quai, Sage and Chives and I have also been collecting wild plants and weeds like Borage, Dandelion, California Poppy, Plantain etc. I don’t grow Lavender yet but I will next year. With a friend down the road with a lavender hedge and a sister with a lavender farm there seems little need right now to grow it.

French Tarragon

French Tarragon

I love using these fresh but need them throughout the year so I have been drying them all, the kitchen herbs are in jars in the pantry, the ones I use for soaps etc stored in many paper bags and boxes.

Chamomile

Chamomile

Last week while out picking Sage and Rosemary I had the great? idea of trying smudge sticks (I am all fingers and thumbs so found these a little fiddly to begin with) A quick look on-line gave me the instructions and these are my first attempts. One thing worth noting if you ever decide to try them – they shrink ALOT. Don’t tie off your ends of string as you will probably need to re-tie them but these are lovely to make and smell gorgeous.

Smudge

Smudge

What can be made from the herb garden excites me and if you have ever thought you would like to grow and experiment with them I urge you to do it – I read about them for years but never really did much about it, they are beautiful to use.

Herbal toner

Herbal toner

 

Dandelion & Calendula

Dandelion & Calendula

I am sorry to see the end of the herb growing season and have been rushing to dry everything….the poor garden is looking rather empty now….tomorrow I will be taking all the basil and making pesto to freeze. I also like to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays, rosemary, basil and oregano are nice done this way. I had plans to make some seasoned salts too but they are at least dried and I can do this later in the season when not so busy. It’s also a time of seed saving though early days yet.

The front porch seat where things are put to dry

The front porch seat where things are put to dry

Mid January we went away for the weekend and passed through the city where the lovely Gallivanta lives (a fellow blogger) She had told me to drop in if we were down that way as she had a book for me. She had two as it happened and they are lovely ones too 🙂 I very much appreciated them and though I haven’t had time to sit and read too much I know through Autumn and winter I will have my nose stuck in these!

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AND, though I really didn’t need the extra work and had to think long and hard about it I started another blog two days ago to be added to my shop site when I can figure out how to do that. On this blog I have always kept to more frugal ideas and recipes but this new one has the recipes for what I sell. Two reasons for doing this…they are nice! and they also show the work and expense that goes into making nice products for sale. Though not exactly cheap to make many use flowers, herbs, weeds and wildflowers so if you are interested in making your own skincare and home products I invite you to follow me here https://www.tumbleweedsnaturals.wordpress.com/  – It is VERY new and you will recognise a couple of recipes I have shared here at quarteracre.

 

 

A Herbal/Floral Facial Toner

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This recipe is adapted from The Queen of Hungary’s Water recipe I found in a book of herbal beauty recipes Earthly Bodies, Heavenly Hair written by Dina Falconi. It has the most gorgeous herbal recipes in and I can recommend it, I downloaded it from The Kindle service at Amazon.

Doing a search on this tells me the water was firstly created for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary in the 1300’s, other sources believe it to have been created by gypsies but whatever the folklore surrounding it, it is a most beautiful thing to use. There are many variations on-line so it’s easy to actually just adapt using whatever grows in the garden. Though Dina Falconi suggests it’s use for Normal/Oily Skin I have Dry/Mature skin and I really like using this. It leaves skin feeling fresh, dewy and soft.

You will need Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel, Lavender Essential Oil (optional) and your selected herbs and florals. This quantity makes around 6 x 100 gram bottles which may be too much for the average woman to use but you get the idea of the technique.

Basically you infuse your herbs and petals in raw organic cider vinegar and leave to sit for up to two months. Other recipes have suggested 2 weeks…I left mine for 6 weeks. I used around 2 handfuls of Lavender flowers and leaf, Calendula petals, Rose petals, Violet leaf and flowers, Sage, Comfrey, Chamomile, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Peppermint and a little lemon zest.

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Pack into a preserving jar and pour vinegar over, seal and leave to sit. After 6 weeks you have some faded herbs and a very astringent smell.

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Strain the liquid through fine muslin (or similar) squeezing to get all the liquid out. Measure and add an equal quantity of Witch Hazel. Add some Lavender Essential oil to suit, I only added around 15 drops to this quanity of liquid. Bottle, it will keep for “many” months though I am not sure how many that means. (Don’t pour it into a jar that previously contained Pickled Garlic as I did with the amount I put aside for me!) Use a cotton wool ball to apply.

I love this recipe, nice to make and lovely to use.