Personally, I am super grateful for the common herbs for being my introduction to gardening.
Especially I thank the “gateway” herb – Marijuana who opened my eyes to the plant path and widen my conciousness to include all life as beings.
Even the most common herbs: basil, rosemary, and sage (as pictured here) have much wisdom to share.
The best way to learn is by interacting with the plants themselves: harvesting, drying, and using them in meals. Luckily these three herbs are easy to grow & found in nurseries and gardens just about everywhere.
Other tools, like books, classes (both in person & online) and walks with an herbalist friend are also important to the practice of learning. Here are three of my favorite and most used books:
So, let me know, what plants introduced you to gardening and/or herbalism. Leave a 💚 of it was cannabis too 🌿… Here are a few of the responses I got over on my Instagram page:
This little world of abundance is only really possible under the cover of hoops & plastic during late fall/winter.
As much as I love the birds and other wildlife it really is a bummer to go out into the garden to see everything all eaten and destroyed.
In other garden beds we have some lentils, calendula, swiss chard & mustard greens too, but not quite as photogenic. As much as I enjoy each moment of the wheel of the year I am really looking forward to spring
Be it spring of fall I wish you all happy gardening!
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!!
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.
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.
In a couple of weeks we will have to mow this field and transform this section into the lawn-landscape that the owner prefers. Mowing down these flowers isn’t something I am excited about but, I accept this as part of my duty as a landscaper and part of our trade for getting to live here.
So, before that time comes I wanted to appreciate and share this field of flowers as the wildlife refuge that it is 10 months out of the year:
For now this is just part of the job of a landscaper …
… that is until the permaculture revolution takes hold of this planet (once again).