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