Monthly Archives: July 2015

Preparing for Winter

Just after the Summer Solstice may seem a strange time to be thinking about winter, but it is the time when many of our herbs are ready for harvesting and therefore a perfect time to take stock of what we already have and what we are likely to need during the winter months. 

Sarah has set us a June task of thinking about what herbs we need for the rest of the summer and winter, what to harvest, what conditions we might need to treat and what we would like to make.  I already have enough products and herbs to las the rest of the summer so this is my plan of action to prepare myself for this coming winter.

Step One

Tak an inventory of what is already there. It will be important to note what I used the most, what I need and what is there not being used. A lot of this I explored earlier on in the year and I just need to check that the inventory I made then is up-to-date.

Step Two

Make a list of my commonly occuring winter ailments and how I propose to treat them. I really struggle with low moods, getting up on winter mornings and chesty complaints as well as indigestion related to unhealthy eating and overindulgence on comfort foods. My main focus this winter will be to keep healthy and to raise my mood. This will be through herbal preparations such as teas, tinctures, syrups, bath sachets as well as being assisted by better organisation, removing clutter, healthier eating and doing more exercise. I also believe that negativity can collect in the home so I will be replenishing herbal protection bags, smudging and undertaking general cleaning. I have started to note a list of preparations I might like to make over the next few months:

  • Morning uplifting and energising tea blends

  • Afternoon, calming and de-stress tea blends

  • Night tea blends for promoting good sleep

  • Tincture blend for mood improvement during December/January

  • Fire cider vinegar as an all round preventative

  • Digestive bitters for helping with winter stodge

  • Herbal sleep sachets

  • Herbal mood lifting sachets

  • Moth/insect repelling fragrant sachets for clothes in storage

  • Herbal protection/clearing incense

  • Herbal cough/chest complaint remedies

  • Vitamin loaded cordials

  • Herbal cleaning products – e.g. to add to water for mopping, ironing, window clearning, wiping surfaces.

  • Herbal cosmetics such as body butters, hair rinses, flower waters etc

  • Herbal first aid kit such as for healing burns, aches, general pain, cuts, brusies, skin complaints

Step Three

Physically harvest the plants for drying. Make any tinctures or oils etc from fresh material. I already know that I will be collecting rose petals, lemon balms and lavender for their mood improving properties and mugwort, rosemary and wormwood for their protective properties. It may seem unnecessary collecting and drying herbs such as sage and rosemary when they are in the garden all year round and for cooking it is usally preferable to use the fresh herbs. The reason I do this is that in the dark depths of winter I leave the house in the dark and return to the house in darkenesss, therefore I am less inclined to use something if it means going out into a cold, dark garden wtih a torch. It is also useful to have a stock of dried materials if making incenses, herb pouches and herbal tea blends.

Step Four

Make products from dried plant material. These are often the time consuming products such as incenses, tea blends and herbal sachets. They require thought, planning and experimentation. This will mean looking up herbal properties in books and on the internet. My favourite book for herbal healing properties is David Hoffman’s New Holistic Herbal and for energetic propoerties I like Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. They are both easy to use and have tables for cross-referencing specific ailments or properties. If I am undecided on certain herbs I sometimes use my dowser to help me make my final selection from a short-list. I also love sites such as other blogs, pinterest and youtube for craft or blending ideas which I then adapt for my own purposes.

Step Five

Start using the products! As I discussed in my last post (A cupboard full of good intentions) it is all very well collecting herbs and making products but it won’t do any good sat in the cupboard.

I will be starting in the next couple of weeks, but steps three, four and five will take me several months to complete. It is also likely that my winter “to do” list will get added to and modified quite a bit between now and winter.