September marks a seasonal shift as the equinox approaches and a slowing down both out in nature and for ourselves.
September is a great time for berries, like rosehips, sloes, haws and juniper berries. Whether you have them growing in your garden, or fancy going out for a forage, this is the time to collect these little wonders.
While out foraging, also look out for hops, nettle seeds and other wild herbs. Some of the spring herbs have a second flush of young growth around now, so you might come across things like chickweed, three cornered leek and white deadnettle.
In the garden, enjoy lots of fresh leafy herbs like mint, sage, oregano and thyme, as their harvest season will be over soon.
Violas (violets, pansies, heartsease) are in full flower at the moment, use them in salads, desserts, teas, syrups and other creative preparations.
Preserve some of the current hedgerow abundance by making a rosehip syrup or hawthorn berry jelly. If sweet is not your thing, combine their healing and nurturing properties into a berry vinegar. Simply put the berries in a jar, cover with apple cider vinegar and leave it to infuse for 4-6 weeks. Strain, and use as you would use other vinegars.
IN THE GARDEN
This time is a time of seeds! Most plants are now getting ready to either complete their life cycle, or slow down for the winter, and part of that means producing seeds. Packed with nutrients and general goodness, seeds are pretty magical little things that make wonderful food, medicine, and of course, whole new plants. So gather them! Collect them to eat fresh and to preserve, or wait for them to ripen and then gather and store them for next year’s season.
Take note (and pictures) of where your herbaceous plants are, so next year you remember what to expect where.
Prune climbing roses once they've finished flowering and remove any suckers that may have sprouted from the base.
Celebrate the equinox. It represents the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one, both very clear when we watch plants and nature and general. Tuning into these changes is a great way to connect to our greater surroundings.
Although the growing season is coming to an end, there is still quite a bit of seed sowing that can be done in September. If you’re growing herbs indoors on a windowsill, you can still start new plants that don’t need a lot of heat, like coriander and chives. Hardy flowering herbs like calendula, nigella, feverfew and poppy can be sown outdoors now, for an early display of flowers next spring.
I’m not sure about you but here at Hackney Herbal, we’re ready to slow down. The high, outward energy of summer has been reflected in the business of our lives and the heat of this year has accumulated into a juicy, full-on season. As the plants begin to slow down, drop their leaves and reserve their energy for the colder months, it makes sense for us to do the same. This month we’ll explore some practical suggestions to match nature and slow down. It can be really difficult in a city where we don’t live by the seasons so go gently and look to nature for inspiration.
Do less. There’s a huge cultural pressure to be busy all the time and when we keep going without listening to our need for rest, it leads to burnout. Say no to commitments that aren’t necessary and remember that ‘no’ is a sentence in itself, it doesn’t require an explanation. The less you do the more you have to give.
Disconnect from your phone and take a break from social media. We all know we should do this more but often find ‘reasons’ not to. You could leave your phone at home when you know you won’t need it; turn it off at night; have a ‘no phone/s in the bedroom’ rule; only go on social media for a designated time each day e.g between 6-7pm.
Connect with nature. Observe how it changes this month. Feel the difference in the air temperature on your skin. Watch the leaves turning yellow. Take a deep breath, then do it again. Notice the difference in how you feel. The more aware we are, the less caught in our heads worrying about the past, future or what we have to do which naturally allows us to slow down.
Words Camila B & Amy B