At Samhain, the Goddess retreats into the deep vault of the earth to join her dark lover in the Underworld. Life withdraws, and the landscape turns bleak, cold, and grey. There are no more fruit or flowers, and the birds have left on their journey to the south. We mark this time of death and decay by remembering and honouring those who have gone before us. Death is but a stage of the wheel of life. Far below the surface, the Goddess sheds her old cloak and falls into a deep meditation that regenerates her vital life-giving energies.
We face the darkness of the cold season, as the Sun grows weaker and has little power left to warm us.
At this time, remember that life and death are aspects of the same eternal cycle. One cannot exist without the other. There is no light without darkness. This is a time for reflection and reminiscence, and for gathering our inner strength in contemplation – for soon, the wheel of the year will turn again, and the Sun will be reborn once more.
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Gardening Jobs in December
It’s December, and gardeners are longing for spring! The garden has gone into hibernation, and there isn’t that much going on out there. Or so it seems.
But wait, there is always something to do!
Yes, in the midst of winter, you can do some sowing: if you live in a comparatively mild climate zone, you can sow broad beans outdoors – or under cover, if weather conditions are harsher.
Frost hardy lettuces, such as lambs lettuce and Asian salad mixes, are also good winter crops.
You can get a head-start on some long season crops like chillies or aubergines. But you might need a grow-lamp to ensure they are getting enough light.
December is the perfect time to start onions from seed. Sow them indoors to give them a nice head start.
If you have a tunnel or greenhouse, you can start garlic in trays to plant out later.
Harvest your winter veggies now. Leeks and Brussels sprouts are ready now.
Any young Brassicas you might have outside are at risk to be eaten by hungry birds. Cover them with netting and remove any yellow leaves to prevent mildew and other fungal diseases.
Trees and Bushes
Prune apple and pear trees, and berry bushes, such as Black Current, Red Currents, White currents and Gooseberries.
Winter is the best time to plant bare-root trees and bushes. Think of the wildlife when you make your choice! Hawthorn, Rowan, Hazel, Elder, and Guilder Rose provide food for hungry birds.
Speaking of Wildlife…
Many animals are hibernating. They might be sleeping right under a pile of leaves or under the compost heap, so don’t disturb them until spring.
The birds are hungry all through the winter. Keep the bird feeders topped up and put out some water – they still need to drink!
Prepare for spring by building nest boxes and insect hotels.
Winter is dream time. Think of the summer to come and what you would like to harvest next year. Planning the garden early means you can sow and plant much more efficiently and harvest all year long.
Foraging Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Autumn is my favourite foraging time. The seeds are ripening, the nuts are swelling, and mushrooms are making their elusive appearances. Even when things have seemingly died off, one can dig for roots and rhizomes below ground.
Evening Primrose is a great autumn crop for foragers. The tall, lanky stalk with the large, somewhat ghostly, pale yellow flowers is a familiar sight. Yet its true beauty is revealed at night when the flowers open fully and their subtle scent perfumes the air.
Evening Primroses are not particularly fussy. They are happy with poor, sandy soil as long as it gets enough sun. Waste grounds, railway track embankments, neglected corners of the yard all provide a happy habitat for them.
All parts of the Evening Primrose are edible.
Evening primrose is biennial, forming a rosette in the first year and the stalk and flowers in the second year. The leaves of both the first and the second year’s growth can be cooked or used fresh – but they are a bit hairy, and may not be to everyone’s liking. Try a small amount first to see if you like the flavour, or mix them with other herbs.
Evening Primrose has a long flowering season, from June to September. The early flowers only open in the evenings, exuding a beautiful, sweet scent. Later, they open during the day as well. The flowers are mildly sweet-tasting and can be used to decorate salads. Or try the buds before they open in stir-fries and such.
The seed pods ripen in the autumn. The elongated capsules contain quite a lot of tiny seeds. But if you think you might be able to press your own Evening Primrose Oil, I’ll have to disappoint you. The seeds are minuscule. It would require a ton of them to make the endeavour worthwhile. And, what’s more, the pressure needed to press the seeds is so great that it would produce a lot of heat, which would destroy the beneficial properties of the oil. Try using them like poppy seeds instead. But don’t expect to get a lot of nutritional value from them. The amounts typically used in cooking and baking are too small for that. Grind the seeds before adding them to your recipes to release the oil. Left whole, they would simply pass straight through the digestive system without leaving a trace of their nutritional benefits.
Read more about the medicinal properties of Evening Primrose Oil
The roots are perhaps most interesting for the forager. But remember that only the first years’ root is used, which is easily identifiable by its distinctive rosette of leaves. The flowering shoot does not form until the spring of the second year. By this time, it would be too late to dig for the root. But, look around the ground near a stand of second-year plants, and you will soon spot some yearlings. It can be hard work to dig up the long reddish taproot unless the soil is very light. But they make an unusual root vegetable for bakes and stews with a slightly peppery taste, reminiscent of black salsify.
Roasted Winter Vegetables
- Evening Primrose Roots
- Large onion
Clean and peel/scrub vegetables well. Cut into 2″ chunks. Coat with olive oil and salt. Keep them separate and sprinkle with spices (e.g. sprinkle the parsnips with curry, the carrots with coriander seed powder and the potatoes and evening primrose roots with Chinese 5 spice mix).
Quarter the onion. Separate the garlic into cloves, no need to peel. Preheat the oven to about 425 °F
Place all ingredients on a baking tray and bake for about 30 – 50 minutes on a high shelf. (cooking time depends on the size of the vegetable chunks – check regularly)
You can add a few sprigs of fresh sage and rosemary towards the end for additional flavour. (Putting them in at the beginning would burn them)
Evening Primrose Fritters
Not suitable for ‘fat-free’ fans, but delicious nonetheless.
Prepare a standard batter:
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1 TSP baking powder
- 1 TSP salt
- 1 TSP oil
Cut the Evening Primrose root into long pieces, not too thick, and dip each piece into the batter.
Fry in very hot oil until golden brown.
A deep-fryer works best, but if you don’t have one, pan-frying will do.
Evening Primrose Patties
Cook the Evening Primrose roots until tender (you might want to blend with other root vegetables).
Mash with butter, stir in one egg and a little flour and/or oats to make a sticky dough.
Season to taste. Form little patties and pan-fry on each side until golden brown.
Few western European trees are as enigmatic as the Yew. Dark, brooding and sometimes eery, each Yew tree very much has its own personality.
A short introduction to how to make natural homemade cosmetics. Find out how easy it is to make body butters and bath salts at home.
The season is drawing to a close, but there are still plenty of things to do in the garden. Planting, sowing, harvesting and caring for the wildlife.
Gums, resins and latex are the sticky stuff that some plants excrete when the outer ‘skin’ or bark has been injured.
This article is about common and uncommon vegetable oils that are derived from seeds, nuts and fruit pulp including their fatty acid profile.
The summer is over, and the garden is beginning to wind down. But there are still quite a lot of gardening jobs left to do in October.
Evening Primrose Oil is one of the best sources of Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA) with valuable therapeutic and medicinal properties.
Evening Primrose is a conspicuous and frequently encountered herb, but did you know that every part of it is edible?
There is plenty to do in the garden in September – not just harvesting and preserving the harvest for later, but also sowing and propagating.
To this day, opium and its derivatives supply us with some of the most effective painkilling agents used in medicine. These substances bring great relief to those suffering from agonizing pain. But they are also dangerously addictive.
The story of opium poppy in all its different facets, the prehistoric and historical record, its mythology, and use in folk magic and medicine to its modern use.
Ayurveda literally means ‘science of life’. It is one of India’s oldest indigenous healing tradition,s dating back 5000 years.
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