On late fall non-food harvests

Sunday found me dodging the raindrops of a late autumn thunderstorm.  What’s with the fireworks, I ask that cloudy sky, don’t you know there’s outdoor work to be done? I got doused for my impertinence.

Plan B had me harvesting the last of the calendula blossoms for another batch of balm.  “Make balm while the rain falls,” then, became the activity of the afternoon.  I upped the quantity of beeswax considerably in this batch:  I enjoyed the easy spreading of the first recipe but this batch is solely for gifts, and I don’t like complaints about greasiness.  (Unbelievably, yes, people tell me to my face that they didn’t like to use that last batch, as it didn’t melt into their hands with the rapidity that alcohol-based commercial products will do.  This either means that I am the type of person who won’t take offense, or this means I have some loose-lipped, patently unworthy friends:  you be the judge.)

Really, there’s nothing easier than growing calendula:  once you have it, you always will.  And if you can melt oil in a pan and grate a bar of beeswax, this, too, can be yours.

And the consistency:  it’s up to you, so…no complaints!

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9 responses to “On late fall non-food harvests

  1. The balm sounds very interesting, we will have to try this next season, thanks for the idea.:)

  2. You gotta love a plant that blooms in Michigan in December.

  3. What a great idea. I’d love to see a step-by-step of the process. And I’m not sure complainers would get a repeat offering. . .

  4. It’s not that easy to grow calendula in Virginia, let me tell you that. Although this year would have been a good one given how mild it’s been!

    I know I’d be very appreciative of your balm and would never complain about greasiness (ssssshhhh!) if you ever want to send some my way. Quince Paste?

  5. I would see it as honest feedback and be honored to have such forthright friends.
    They in turn should appreciate being educated on the qualities of different products.

  6. We’ve been making various balms for the past 8 years or so, out of various herbs/flowers in our gardens. This year for our daughter’s 10th bday (big slumber party year to celebrate double digits!), we had a Hogwarts themed party. My ginormous pregnant self played Professor Sprout. I had all 10 kids/friends run around with scissors (ha!) to collect herbs from outside. We discussed everything they collected- the herb’s healing properties, etc. and then popped them into the crock pot overnight to stew in olive oil. The next morning I added the beeswax and poured their salves into little glass dishes from the dollar store for the girls to take home. I swear this is the best batch ever! They threw in calendula, lavendar, sage, thyme, mint, comfrey, even a few old dandelions (!). It was a super dense pot herbs and oil. It smells lovely and it kicks butt (and very quickly!) on healing chapped skin, diaper rash, burns, ANYTHING! I wish I had made more!

  7. Mike, I should’ve tucked a jar in your seedbox but it was already in the mail! As you know with your soapwort, the garden is a source for more things than just food, pleasure, and exercise.

    Amen, Emily!

    Stef, I have a couple of posts about it and I tend to bore myself if I do blog posts of step-by-steps, but it’s pretty easy: pick flowers, remove petals, put in pan with oil, low boil for as long as you like. Grate beeswax in interim; find jars. Find shea butter (it’s around here somewhere), likewise lavender essence (it’s probably hiding with the shea butter). Remove oil from heat; strain out petals, pouring oil into another pan. Add beeswax slowly and stir to melt. Add shea butter and a few drops of essence (purely superfluous: the stuff smells great on its own) and then decant into tiny (1/4 cup) jars. Voila!

    Sylvie, it’s a deal on that quince paste! You’re on my seed-trade list too. Whee. Does it get too hot for calendula there? It really shines for me in the fall; it kind of wimps out in summer’s “heat” (which of course is nothing like your heat).

    EJ, well, you know, I have got to make a fuss or they’d think something was wrong with me 🙂 But you’re quite right: I would rather they tell me than it sits unused…

    Amanda, I hardly think YOU would doubt Girl Power when it comes to doing things like making balm! How fun, and what a fun project for them, you know? Hopefully they’ll also remember it, unlike the cheap Chinese trinkets our kid comes home with from birthday parties. Yeah: the lightbulb went off with me when I was spending big bucks on diaper rash ointment with calendula in it (heeyyy I can make this, cheaper). I do swear that with time I will become more acquainted with the huge world of herbs. Baby steps!

  8. I admit, I made a batch from your instructions last time and it was a *little* greasy. Will adjust the next batch! 🙂

    We just picked a few calendulas for our t-giving table last week. Not enough for balm but not bad having fresh flowers in almost-December!

  9. I love calendula too but have never tried making balm with it. Normally, I colour rice or something with the petals. I’ll have to try now.

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