Monday, August 17, 2009

Gather Florets While Ye May

It's that time of the year when we switch from growing to gathering mode. I remember the tension we'd feel this time of year in Saskatchewan when we needed warm, sunny weather to dry the seed heads of the grain crops. The same concern applies to gathering the seeds of flower heads and herbs here in Vancouver. We plan to harvest seeds from the MOP bee garden to give them out to the community and create seed balls. We are also collecting and drying seeds, petals, and seed heads to create ephemeral art mosaics and mazes. This has to be done on a regular basis or else we may lose the materials because they drop to the ground or they rot.

This is an amaranth plant which volunteered from last year.

On Saturday I had a helper in the garden. K and I harvested the florets from sunflower heads that had either fallen and broken, or were in that post-pollination stage where the florets were just ready to fall off and expose the achenes. Luckily K was tall enough to reach some of the highest sunflowers that were out of my reach. We want to leave most of the sunflowers to ripen and dry in the sun to feed the birds and create a sculptural element in the winter garden. I also trimmed a few sunflower leaves back to give the beans growing up the stalks a bit more light. K harvested about eight pods of Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans. The plants will flourish now that the weather has cooled off a bit.

The anise hyssop we grew from seed is just starting to blossom.

I'm so excited about our first bitter melon! We can make tea from this for our September party. We also dug out some dandelion roots to clean and dry to make liver-cleansing tea.

Sunflower goggles!

Floppy fennel needs to be trimmed back.

Here's an immature sunflower head. Seeds should be black and the rim and back of the sunflower turning brown. The trick is not to leave the heads once the fall rains come so the seeds and backs don't rot. I pulled most of the seeds out of this head and dried them in the oven for ephemeral mosaics. Then I put the seed head in a tree in our back yard. The birds have already picked it clean.

My FIL gave me some vein-leafed verbena plants which have just bloomed on the south end of the garden.

I harvested some cerinthe and buckwheat seeds. I noticed that the dragons' head plants smell like lemon balm, so I harvested some to take home and dry for tea. The sun peeked out once or twice, and it was a perfect morning to dig in the dirt and reach for the sun(flowers).

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