Welcome to Jade Owl’s Cottage
The month of August brings us the 1st of three months of harvesting and putting up what we have spent the spring and early summer planting and fiercely tending. Of course, depending on where you live in the world, you have already started in late June and thru July; however the bulk of it begins now.
This month I will start discussing how I harvest, dry, and put up my herbs, flowers, and what veggies I plant. I have a recipe for candies flowers, herbal waters, and a couple of my favorite summer recipes. Of course I will throw in some homey tips and witchy beauty tips as well.
August is also Lughnassadh; this is the time when we start to decorate our homes and altars in the colors of the harvest: yellows, oranges, and gold to name a few. Items to place on your altars might be whole grain breads and some of the blackberry wine you may have made from the berries you picked last year.
Lughnassadh might be a good time to replace your Witch’s Bottle if you are finding that you have more negativity coming in than usual. Simply fill a baby food jar with broken bits of glass and other sharp objects, charge it with your intent (I also draw a pentagram on the lid with my finger) and bury it beside your door or somewhere near your property line. For those of you who are apartment dwellers, you can place it out of sight near the doorway or way back on a shelf in your entrance closet.
Lughnassadh is also typically the time of year when we will make our corn dolly for next year’s Imbolc, as it is the time when early wheat is being harvested. I make mine from a large bunch of wheat so that I can add little details to her to make her unique.
Large bunch of wheat 1/8 in ribbon color of your choice
Hot glue gun hot glue sticks
Dried flowers with stems small doll size straw hat
Curly craft doll hair 4-6 small flower blossoms, dried no stems
Double your bunch of wheat over about 3 inches from the top to forma head and secure with the ribbon. Twist some wheat on both sides of your doll to form arms. Make a small bouquet with the dried flower and glue to the hands in front of the doll. To be creative, glue the curly doll hair to the head and then glue the hat to that. At the bottom of the dress you can glue the blossoms evenly spaced.
Normally I start my herbs from seeds indoors in the 1st or 2nd week of March. I buy seedling trays and peat, plant the seeds and place them in a well lit warm place to start. I then move them outside only after the threat of frost has passed. Here in northwest Indiana I feel safe moving them outdoors during the day about the 2nd week of April then planting them outside or in outdoor containers the last of April. This is what I would normally do, early last year I met a wonderful man who is a truck driver. In order to save money I put everything in storage and came out on the road with him. Since I was a trucker for almost 20 years, it works out pretty good. I do miss puttering in my yard with my hands in the earth and working magick in my kitchen. I guess my column should be called: “Jade Owl’s rolling cottage” …lol a witch must adapt!
Wise women and men have been growing, harvesting, wild crafting, and putting up herbs for magickal and medicinal use for centuries. Enter the 21st century and your everyday witch is more likely to be found in a four-story apartment building on the 3rd floor without any space to grow plants let alone the herbs needed for their craft, so there are commercially grown herbs bought at the local market. Store bought herbs are fine for those that cannot grow their own, that and those of us who can, cannot grow every single herb in our gardens. Different climates prevent us from doing so. Just pay attention to expiration dates just as you would for those that you harvest yourself. I mark my bottles with the date I bought them.
Harvesting, Drying, and Storage
Before I harvest my herbs, I perform a mini ritual for the harvesting. I cleanse and charge my herb knife with my intent and I always take a little offering of water with some mild fertilizer added for my herbs. I do this because I never harvest the whole plant at one time.
Sometimes I will harvest in the evening if the day has been cool, and I have had too much to do early in the day, but early to mid-morning is best for harvesting because the sun and heat have not had a chance to get to my plants. Also the oils that give the herbs their smell and flavor are strongest in the morning.
Cut the herb stem about ½ inch above the dirt and remove the lower leaves. Don’t throw the removed leaves away, save them for your compost. I take two large wicker baskets and several small bowls out with me when I harvest. The baskets will contain the herbs and flower blossoms I gather and the bowls will hold the seeds I want to save for next year.
Once you have gathered all the herbs and flowers you want take them inside and gently rinse them and shake the excess water off. Lay the herbs and flowers in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper to finish drying. You can also put them in a warm oven to dry. Once all the water is gone you are ready for hanging, and preparation.
I dry my herbs in small brown paper sacks. This keeps the dust from gathering while they dry. Label the sacks with the herb name and date you gathered. I tie my bags with red string (for protection while drying) and hang them from hangers with clothespins in a cool dry place. I check on the drying process about once a week and normally by week 3 they are ready for storage. At this time you can chop, crush, or grind your herbs for storage. I do all three depending on the herb and what I want to use it for during the year. I store my herbs in clean, dry baby food jars in a dark cabinet.
For fresh herbs, I chop and freeze mine. NOTE: basil will turn black when chopped so freeze it whole and only chop it when you need it. I place small servings of my fresh herbs in snack size zip lock bags labeled with the name and date and then freeze them. I also do this with my fresh flowers that I will later use for edible flowers or candied flowers.
Speaking of those candies flowers:
First and foremost: MAKE SURE THEY ARE EDIBLE!!!
Candied flowers are a great way to save flowers for future desserts and decorations. Cakes decorated with them are gorgeous!!!. And I think even tastier. The flowers you use will also carry their magickal and medicinal properties into your desserts and cakes. I.e.: pansies are for love and happiness.
¼ c egg whites (about 4 eggs) beaten ½ extra fine sugar
2 c assorted edible flowers 1 small paint brush
Tweezers parchment paper
Air tight container
When cutting flowers for candied flowers leave stem about ½ inch long so you can hold it with the tweezers. Make sure to remove all the leaves, but save the leaves for your compost. Gently wash and pat dry your flowers. Hold the flower by the stem with the tweezers and paint the entire flower with the eggs whites then dust them well with the sugar. Gently shake off excess sugar and place a layer at a time in air tight container. Place parchment paper between layers.
Floral waters are a good for drinking, baking, and beauty recipes. They are a weak infusion, meaning that unlike an infusion for tea, there should be just a slight flavor and smell of the flower. 1 or 2 flowers or leaves are all that is needed to make floral water. The following recipe is for a relaxing summer spritz.
Lavender Floral Water Spritz
2 c boiling water 1 lavender flower, just the petals
1 qt jar with lid.
Pour boiling water over the flower petals and allow to steep until cool. Strain petals from water and store jar in fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you know you are not going to use all the water within the 2 weeks, you can pour the water into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once it is frozen remove from tray and store in a zip lock bag labeled with name and date. Thaw a cube at a time as needed. To use pour some of the water into a spray bottle and spritz away!!!
Cucumber starts coming on in August and I love cucumber salad. When I was young my grandma made a cucumber salad to die for!!! The following recipe is curtsey of my Grandma Smalley. She passed into the Summerland in Nov. 2004.
Leota’s Cucumber Salad
1 large cucumber ½ c milk
½ onion, diced 3 tbsp miracle whip or mayo
1 tsp sugar ½ garlic clove diced
Mix milk, miracle whip or mayo, and sugar until creamy. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve chilled.
I love to cook and have been told several times I should have opened my own little café. I am happiest in the kitchen stirring up something or another. So sticking with the harvest theme I am putting my recipe for green beans in this month. Green beans fresh from the garden are the bomb!!! Just snap off the ends, and you can do anything.
Green Beans with Herb Butter Sauce
1 lb fresh green beans end snapped off and cooked till just a little crisp.
¾ cup butter ½ tsp basil
¼ tsp rosemary, crushed ½ tsp parsley
½ tsp marjoram ¼ tsp sage
½ tsp minced garlic 1 tsp minced onion or ¼ diced fresh onion
In small saucepan melt butter and add herbs, Stir constantly so as not to scorch herbs. Cook till garlic and onion begin to soften. Toss green beans with butter sauce and serve with your main dish.
Witchy Home & Garden Tips
Devote an entire cupboard or cabinet to your herbs and teas.
Keep medicinal herbs separate from magickal herbs. Keep both in a cool, dark, dry place.
Save your egg shells for your calcium loving plants. Crush and place around the base of the plant. In the spring before your hostas come up mulch into the ground around where they come up and see how big your hostas get.
Left over coffee or black tea can be poured over acid loving plants like roses.
When making bread remember that your dough will rise higher and faster during the waxing or full moon. Makes the bread lighter and airier.
A slice of cold onion should help with the swelling and pain of an insect bite.
Witchy Beauty Tips
First and foremost: Honor who you are and establish your own way of making magick.
A great way to pamper your feet is to mix sweet almond or olive oil with coarse sea salt and scrub them about 2 times a week to keep them soft. Follow the scrub by massaging almond or olive oil into your feet and putting socks on so the oil can soak in.
Mink oil is GREAT for wrinkles. Just smooth some on at night before bed or smooth a little on before you put on your make-up
Neem oil is a great all around oil. It comes from India and they have been using it for hundreds of things for centuries. Massage it into nails and cuticles for beautiful hands. Mix a tiny bit (4-5 drops) into water and spray on garden or house plants to repel bugs. Spray around baseboards to drive away ants or roaches.
That is it for this month. Stay tuned next month for more harvesting, and recipes. Until then keep your brooms below the radar… Blessed Be )O(
Contact me anytime with questions or comments
©2013 by Jade Owl (Margaret Leota Creekmore)