Notes from the Vanic Uprising: Midsummer Report

Notes from the Vanic Uprising: Midsummer Report June 18, 2019

Community work is going well, two weekends in a row we’ve worked at two different homesteads. We put in garden beds and dug out area for a sauna at one location and tarped a pole barn to dry it out for re-roofing at the other.  I have a couple more people interested in hosting plants at their houses as I continue to grow more herbs. There are still more tomato plants to give away. Two members of the polypod started them this year, and we all have far more than we need. Time to reach out to the extended community and share our wealth.

Herb harvest is intense this time of year.

I had to put off finishing the crane painting and a number of homeschooling tasks to get everything done.  The first harvest of nettles has been dried and stored in tea grade and powder for winter soups. Tried a new technique with the mugwort harvest. This time I snapped the tips of the mugwort first, and then used hedge trimmers to cut the rest back to about 8 inches from the ground.  Used the tops to make recaning sticks. Last year’s were very stemmy, and wouldn’t always burn as well as I wanted. This should increase the leaf to stem ratio, and the tiny 4 inch sticks are very portable. I look forward to sharing them with my Patreons.

I pulled the leaves off of the rest of the mugwort stems and used them to make a batch of mugwort vinegar for my hair rinse.  pH balancing and purification in one easy step! The next harvest will be in July or August and I will use that one to make tincture. I was out of vodka this time, having used it on a giant batch of chickweed tincture and another of lady’s mantle tincture.

Must remember to add lard, large ziplock bags, and cheap vodka to the grocery list.

Cut down the first harvest of comfrey as well, using the flowering tops and the giant plate sized plaintain leaves I gathered from the garden to make my Green Goop salve.  Heating it up for the second time today. It usually takes three or four simmerings to make it the lovely dark green that I want.

Finished bagging the dried chives.  After they flower, we cut them back to about 4 inches from the ground, and every year I think I’m not going to spend the time to go through and pick out the fibrous flower stems from the chives. I always end up doing it. It’s tedious picking them apart, but I like having the chives to go in yogurt dip and for topping soups and chili. Sure, I could wait for them to regrow and then harvest them, but it would mean abstaining from chives in the summer. Who wants to do that?

Posted this on my FB after reading about midwest crop failures:

Reading about corn crop failure makes me wish we had a government that was honest about climate change, that could help farmers retool for a more variable climate, so they could plant things like buckwheat or rice, that accepted that heavy farm equipment was going to ruin soil tilth and helped farmers to gainfully employ refugees to do the work that machines couldn’t do so that fields could be planted with crops, refugees could stop being put in detention camps, farmers could use less mortgaged farm equipment, and we could adjust to climate chaos. It doesn’t have to suck like this.

We dig our garden by hand, and increased our urban farming space by about double this year. It’s still very small in terms of farms, but it’s ours, and the rain has been wonderful for us. I haven’t had to water once this year and transplanting has been so easy and successful because the soil is damp all the time.  We put the peppers in containers, as was taught to me years ago when I worked at Giving Tree Farm. That way, we can move them into the warmest sunny areas, and tuck them away in the hoophouse when the temps drop. Local organic farmers have been busily adapting to the more variable climate for some years now.

Today is the full moon, and I intend to ritually harvest the angelica at sunset.  This is my first time working with it as an herb, and I look forward to it a great deal. It has set seed, which is very exciting. I wasn’t sure if it would self-pollinate or not.  Maybe someone else in the neighborhood has an angelica plant? I have plans for every part of it, from the seeds to the roots. Looking forward to adding it to my active plant spirit friends.

Sometimes I feel I could live entirely by eating greens and eggs. There is a very deep satisfaction from eating eggs from one’s own chickens and one’s greens.  I’m still harvesting the kale flower buds and they are the most amazing discovery. I intend to overwinter kale from now on. They fry up like a delicious cross between asparagus and broccoli.  

I have decided to leave the kale plants with the aphid infestation in place and not destroy them yet.  I hope they will attract beneficial insects to the yard.

We have curtailed our travel plans quite a bit this year, and have found that it has been good for us.  My health is slowly improving as I continue to treat myself with herbs, supplements, and learning about my needs.  Our garden is on year three, and it’s a real turning point. The elderberries are both going to bloom this year, and the trees are establishing nicely. Instead of traveling we have had long weekend mornings together on the porch, chatting about our plans, and have finished a number of yard and house projects.  It feels good.

This has been my report from the front lines of the Vanic Uprising.  We are everywhere, quietly relearning old skills, developing new skills, becoming adapted, encouraging each other, and remembering how to live in harmony with the Earth and all beings. How have you been rising up?

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