Studying Sage

sage 2I have started an herbal study, choosing Sage, Salvia officials, as my herbal ally.  Today, I started looking at my task list as outlined by The Kitchen Herb Wife and set out into the autumn garden to take a few photos and collect some fresh Sage before the frost we expect early in the week.

Task List:

1. Consider your ally in its dormant state. If you can see/visit it – sketch what you observe or take pictures. Does it need pruning/sheltering from possible frosts? Does it still have leaves or fruit attached? Are you going to grow it yourself? Where are you going to source it from? Are you going to buy/beg plants/grow from seed?

My sage is not dormant yet (end of October – nights averaging in the mid 40’s) but it was good to take a look now to see what changes the freezes will bring.  This specimen is about 5 years old, planted in a raised bed on the SE side of the house.  It does not get a lot of sun as we live on a hill near the forest.

2. Obtain some dried form of your ally and take yourself a tea once a day for one week and notice taste/flavour/effects on you.

3.What did ancient herbalists use your ally for? How did they prepare it? Check Culpepper, Galen, Avicenna, Hildegarde of Bingen, 16th, 17th, 18 and 19th century writers. (Hint: Maud Grieve and Matthew Wood give good summaries of older herbalists). Don’t forget Scudder, Ellingwood and King on Henriette Kress’ and Paul Bergner’s websites.

4. If you are going to plant your ally, prepare the ground and decide on and plan your planting scheme and plant your seeds. Take careful note of how long seeds take to germinate in what growing conditions and how long they take to acquire two “real” leaves. Pot on.

5. Research modern/current usage of your ally. Check if there is any difference between UK/US/European usage (or TCM/Ayuvedic/Western)

6. If your ally has bark, consider removing bark from prunings and either drying/tincturing, make tea or syrup or doubly infuse in oil. (Make sure the bark is suitable for internal ingestion first!).

7.Spend time with your ally during its dormant state – ask what it would like to teach you over the coming year.

Sage 1


Harvest Treats – Apple Cider

This morning we harvest the last of the apples; there were about 20 pounds. I think we waited too long and the deer had eaten quite a lot of them.  I peeled and sliced some and put them into the dehydrator for the day. The rest of them needed some attention but our cider press has been on long term loan to a school program so we had no way to make cider.  Last night I found out that Portland Nursery was having one more weekend of apple pressing and the add said you could buy apples there or bring your own.  We brought by 15 pounds of apples and the really nice guy that helped us threw them into the grinder, transferred them into the press and helped us fill 3 gallon jugs of the delicious cider.

One gallon of the cider is going to be fermented:cider 1

  • 1 gallon cider
  • 1 campden tablet
  • 1/2 t pectic enzyme
  • 1/3 cup sugar

This will sit for 24 hours before ale yeast is added for the primary fermentation.

 I also harvested a bit more fresh sage before the first frost.  We’re expecting it on Tuesday which is a little early for Oregon.  Hopefully the herbs can hold out until after Thanksgiving.

The End of the Harvest… The Beginning of the Garden…..

The End……

The 2013 bean harvest

This week we are nearing the end of October and the end of our harvest.  There are apples to be picked, beets and carrots to be cleared from the garden and a few more herbs to be dried. The turkeys went in to the processor on Sunday night, they had been chasing the hens around the yard and egg production was way down.  Joe picked them up on Monday – 15 and 19 pounds.  Tonight, I shelled the dried beans – a pitiful harvest thanks to the rabbits – they are finishing their drying in baskets in the dining room.

The Beginning…..

October also brings the time of beginning to our garden.
The shallots went in this week.  Unfortunately, the farmer at the festival did not tell me the varieties, but there are four different types – large smooth (3), smaller smooth (3), smaller rough (4), and smaller really rough (5). It’s not much, but we never planted shallots before so i don’t know how much they’ll produce.

Garlic ready for planting

The garlic also went in.  This year, we put in eight different varieties; Elephant (21), Red Korean (12), Dujanski (10), Purple Glazer (10), Basque Turban (10), Gardner white (6), Gardner purple (5), and Chesnok Red (10).  This weekend, we’ll tuck it all under a layers of compost and dried leaves for the dark days of winter.

Map of the Shallots and Garlic – planted Oct 21 & 23