So cliche – I know – to use a picture of a monarch to represent transformation. But, I do love these creatures and want to celebrate the images I have captured this past week or so in the garden as the monarchs emerge from their chrysalis and fly out into the world.
Something similar is occuring in my own little life – a transformation – that I hope to work it out through this and upcoming journal-like blog post.
First, I will address a question I get all the time, almost hourly when at work :: how is it that I ended up here, in Argentina. The answer is simple and also not simple at all.
Here is how – a few years ago when I had just started out on my travels I let go of the need to control my destiny. Instead deciding to go with the flow of time and follow my destiny where it guided me.
Destiny (or something) guided me south and ever more south. It guided me to meet my current partner, to dozens of farms and work-trades, to cross countries on bike and hitch hike for days and days.
We were guided to make sudden turns, to continue on even when weary, to camp under the stars and roadside, to this very farm, and to this upcoming adventure.
The autumn equinox has passed and was celebrated during many days along with my partner’s birthday on the 25th. In the garden the summer fruits like cucumber and tomato are in their last weeks while the leafy greens are being seeded for fall and winter to come.
Basil, lemon balm, and marigolds are all going strong and keeping the garden landscape beautiful during this transitional time. All around the garden in the surrounding hedge rows the trees are turning yellow and loosing their leaves. The sun has changed course and every day is at more of an angle which makes for interesting lighting and photography opportunities.
Reading List ::
As the morning sun is slowly making his way over the mountains, I am spending these chilly first hours each day with a cup of tea, often a cat (or two, or three) nearby, and a book as I continue on in my studies. I wanted to share my herbalist reading list with you all::
– Planetary Herbalism by Michael Tierra — my fav. herbal reference book ever! I go to this book again & again to check out remedies for symptoms as well as research new herbs. There are no pictures in this book, so it isnt for identifying. But what I do love about it is that this book ties western herbalism in with Traditional Chinese herbalism as well as Ayurveda. I found it via thrift books.
– del Cuerpos a las Raíces by Pabla Perez & others — this book is a bit eclectic and was originally published as a zine years ago. It contains stories, interviews, and herbal profiles about medicinal plants common all over & local to Chile. In some ways it is an ethnographical study of herbalism in rural Chile, in other ways it is quite a radical perspective of rural ladies using their herbs and their powers to heal themselves.
– Botànica Oculta : Las Plantas Mágicas — my honey gifted me this book for the New Year and it is quite fascinating. Both magical and medicinal properties are listed for each herb as well as a bit of theory about plant alchemy which is a subject I am just starting to dive into. This book is available in English & many other languages too!!
Maybe it is the changing of the seasons. Or maybe it is the influence of the homesteading and green witch videos I have been watching lately. Either way I have been busy each day crafting, preserving, and making medicine.
Echinacea :: root medicine
Three springs ago I planted Echinacea seeds which bloomed into flowers each successive summer. Now it is fall here and I am beginning to harvest the roots because their immunity-supporting medicine is most potent after 2 or 3 years growing.
During the three days surrounding the full moon I have been preparing all kinds of medicinals – marmalade and teas and this immunity supporting tea with Echinacea roots & leaves as well as orange peel harvested in winter. In order to charge the tincture with the healing vibes of this most recent full moon in Virgo, I left the tinctures (sealed) outside in the garden to soak up the rays of the full moon.
Since moving to this farm I have gotten to know a truly magical tree that lives on the edge of the woods. This tree is called Hawthorn and is abundant with medicine – flowers in the spring and bright red berries in the fall. Last spring I collected and dried a huge jar of the flowers and now I am working on recipes to encorporate the heart healing medicine of the berries.
Besides hawthorn, quince and rose hips are also in season so I made a marmalade with all three plus a little ginger & cinnamon to add some extra warmth as I we plan to eat these during the winter months.
I will post the recipe for this marmalade and pictures of the final product soon. Until then I wanted to share a few of my favorite magical channels that have been inspiring me, my herbalism practice and crafts lately:
Zinnias for happiness, Dahlias for beauty & mystery, Goldenrod to bring inside the brightness or the sun and blue sage foliage for grounding & protection.
Call it a bouquet or a sculpture made of flowers, anytime one makes art there is the possibility to infuse life with meaning 💐🌻🌼
For drying, for salads, for indoor decoration 🌿🌼 these are just some of the gifts for the garden in the magical time when summer transforms into fall.
And speaking of fall which is quickly approaching, these past few days I have been spending time each morning harvest & processing. I am drying herbs, making tomatoe sauce, and medicinals jams – trying my best to save and savor the abundance.
These hours in the morning become my own little rituals. A way to connect with the place where I live and be in the now moment, while simultaneously preparing for colder months ahead when flowers and fruit will be scarce.
One of the easiest ways to get started repairing clothing is by hemming pants, skirts or whatever is too long to wear comfortably.
I went through my closet and realized that all of my all of my longer skirts were much too long and that the extra length was causing a lot of unnecessary clumsiness.
To hem a skirt or pants for that matter all you need is: – a needle – thread – about 5 pins but less will work & that is it!
Start by trying the item of clothing on and mark either with a pin the length you would like it to be.
If you need to cut off the existing hem, or trim a little bit off the end, do so, but **be really careful to not cut off more than you need.**
When hemming clothes, it is important to fold the edge of the fabric twice – that is, fold the clothing about an inch then fold over that once more – this way all the loose threads are contained and can’t unravel. (See picture)
With the hem folded twice go ahead and pin that section of the fabric. Go around the entire skirt (or pant leg) folding and pinning in the most even fashion possible.
Once all pinned take a look at the hem and make sure that this is the desired length and make the necessary corrections before sewing.
As for thread, I like to pick a contrasting or noticeable color. This is #visiblemending after all!
Now it is sewing time. Sew with whatever stitch you like/is easy for you. Or use a sewing machine, whatever! If sewing by hand the project may take a while but just remember all the hours & hours you will be comfortably wearing this clothing without tripping or having to roll or hike up the waistband.
As for the supplies, you probably already have all of the materials listed above at home. If you are in need, I have several sewing kits with pins, needles, thread, scissors, patches and more in my Etsy shop.
Since forever diverse plants have grow together and that is the way they thrive. Humans picked up on this long ago and began planting in association – some crops grow together better than others and this might change depending on where you live.
Over the years we have experimented with different combinations. First we went with the classic milpa/sisters trio of beans, squash, and corn but the beans always got lost in the under growth. This year beans were planted in the vegetable beds and here in this garden we have red corn, wild quinoa, and cayote – a kind of squash/melon native to Argentina.
It also seems important to mention that there is a lot of a plant called Spanish Needles (a “weed”) growing all around and we mostly just let it be. Spanish Needles, aka Farmer’s Friend, Bidens pilosa is an edible weed also considered a pioneer plant and builder of healthy soil. The leaves and flowers are edible too 🌿🌼
Most likely this combination will evolved and maybe next year we will try to add a few other plants, maybe amaranth and sunflowers to this plant association 🌻🌽🌱
Basket making is a future goal though during the herb-drying season, woven trays are super useful! I really have to thank this instagram and tumblr for filling my feed with endless inspiration for artistic and useful projects using materials made directly from nature. It is a funny thing, that social media reminded me of something so ancestral: making use and making useful things with the resources that grow naturally around us. 🌳
Online you can find all kinds of tutorials for making baskets but I always go with this wild weave – this one is new and needs to dry but the ones I made last summer are holding up just fine. All you need is lots of fresh willow and time.
These purple shorts are probably my most worn item of clothing and have accompanied me during my years of traveling.
Recently they acquired a rip and needed to be fixed so, in this post I am going to go through step by step how to mend any kind of small tear using these shorts as an example::
✂️First, trim off any loose threads and turn the shorts (or whatever item of clothing you will be mending) inside out. Then cut out a patch from scrap materials you have already, in this example I used a piece of recycled jeans because I have so much of it.
✂️Personally I am a fan of visible mending and I tend to use thread and patches of different colors. But, if you don’t want to mend to be noticeable, pick a patch and thread that is similar in color to the clothing you will be fixing up.
✂️Secure the patch with pins and then sew (by hand) around the patch at least twice. You can use whichever stitch you know and be sure to tie knots to secure the fabric around each corner.
✂️Then, flip the shorts right side once again and do a final set of sewing around the rip(s) to be sure that they won’t unwind any further.
✂️And there, the rip is secured and these shorts will serve many years longer! By mending clothing we are making it possible to re-use and up-cycle the clothing we already have. And by doing so we are keeping unnecessary items out of the landfill. Donating torn clothing isn’t a guarantee that it will be re-furbished, so the best way to be sure is to mend yourself. This is something I am very passionate about and for that reason I started making mending kits which I sell on my Etsy page::
Looking forward to the fall garden because, to be honest, our summer garden was not very productive.
In years past we harvested more tomatoes & cucumbers than we knew what to do with but this year only the basil did well, sadly.
But I want to be honest, gardening is hard and sometimes things go wrong without any clear reason as to why. I think, in this case, we haven’t had a good summer season because we tried to take on too much: we extended the garden beds, tried out new crops in addition to work and all the other responsibilities of our work-trade for living here.
And another reason might be that this is just a sign (one of many) that we aren’t meant to live here permanently, that the time to move on from this farm is coming.
So, this upcoming fall I’m committing to doing less and focusing on what I know grows well: leafy greens and herbs as well as scaling back to just a few, intensive garden beds and potted plants.
Wherever you are, and whatever season it is , I wish you luck in your gardening efforts.