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Chamomile Scores and Woes


Each year my garden sprouts more and more chamomile. It comes earlier each year, too. This year it was all done by the end of June.

This leaves a shorter harvest time, and unfortunately I can’t tend my garden in Gresham as much I have been able to in the past. This means a few long harvesting days rather than a constant, steady harvest in better bite-sized chunks (which I prefer).  This also means that a lot of my chamomile went to seed before I could get to it.

Gardens and harvesting shouldn’t be stressful, but in truth they are. All year long I await the fruits of the Earth, but when the time comes to gather the abundance, something stymies my intentions and I end up feeling conflicted, frustrated and incredibly saddened.

Yet the chamomile I was able to harvest was divine. Huge, huge blooms. Some were almost quarter-sized. I had never seen them this big! I had at least five big basket fulls, which is quite a lot for me. Freshly dried chamomile was drank on a daily basis, so sweet and bitter, gentle and powerful all at the same time.

There were a lot of chamomile discoveries and healing opportunities to be had, too. I added it and Chen Pi (Tangerine peel) to Si Jun Zi Tang, a Chinese medicine Spleen Qi Tonic Formula with Ren Shen (Ginseng), Bai Zhu (Atractylodes), Fu Ling (Poria) and Gan Cao (Licorice) for a delicious tea which quelled my tummy-ache, shivers and the desire to curl up in a ball for the rest of the day. It ended up in a poultice with calendula to soothe a painful cyst-like pimple from hell. I spent many a moment sipping chamomile tea and reflecting on the tastes, natures and organs entered.

And then I spilled two baskets worth. I was careless.

This spilled chamomile was not wasted, however. I saved as much as I could and brewed up a nice strong pot of tea and took a bath in it. It was incredibly calming, and an experience I wouldn’t of had if it were never spilled.

Chamomile resolutions:

  1. Grow chamomile at my apartment building so I can harvest it as soon as it is fresh.
  2. Put herbs away as soon as they are dry. Don’t delay.
  3. Create a space to dry herbs that doesn’t include the edge of heavily used work spaces.  A hanging situation would be ideal.
  4. Harvesting chamomile buds from dried plants is a disaster. Don’t do it. Cut blooms right off the plant.
  5. Take more strong chamomile baths. Yum.

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