Week 1. National Waffle Week (10 healthy recipes)
September 6. Labor Day
September 7. In 1900: the Galveston Hurricane became the U.S. greatest national disaster.
September 9. California was admitted to the Union on this day in 1850. The state flower: the California poppy.
Week 2. National Arts in Education Week
September 14. In England, the traditional time for the hops harvest.
September 16. National Guacamole Day. Perfectly delicious. Also the feast of St. Ninian, especially venerated in Scotland.
Week 3. Constitution Week More important than ever
September 20. National Punch Day (No, not that kind. Be gentle.)
September 22. The Fall Equinox and the first day of autumn.
September 26. Johnny Appleseed’s birthday
Week 4. National Banned Books Week, celebrating our freedom to choose the books we read
September 28. St. Michaelmas Eve. Traditional: blackberry pie and roast ‘stubble-goose.’
September 29. International Coffee Day. Be your own barista.
There’s garlic (Allium sativum), and there are chives (A. schoenoprasum)—and then there are garlic chives (A. tuberosum, also called Chinese chives). They are brightening my late-summer gardens with pretty globes of starry white flowers, dearly loved by the bees. I’ve been snipping the flat green leaves into salads, omelets, soups, and mashed potatoes, where they add color and a subtle garlic taste. The tender young leaves are best to cook with, so it’s a good idea to shear the entire clump back to the ground every three or four weeks, to make sure that the leaves don’t get tough and bitter. My chickens love the sheared leaves, chopped beak-size. No chickens? No worry: you can dry the snipped leaves or pop them into small plastic bags and freeze them.
Now, about those tiny black seeds that will inevitably be produced by those pretty white flowers. You can collect them by tapping the drying seed head onto a plate and sprout the seeds for spicy salad sprouts. Or you can clip the seed heads while they’re still flowering, dry them in paper bags, shake out the seeds, and add the pretty heads to your herbal wreaths. Or you can let Nature take its course, in which case you will have more garlic chives than you know what to do with. (Of course, they do make lovely passalong plants.) In cold regions, they’ll die back to the ground and pop up again in the spring. Every two or three years, dig and divide the clump.
There’s more, naturally. Herbalists have traditionally used garlic chives in the same way that they’ve used onions and other members of the Allium family: to stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, fight fatigue, and even grow hair on bald heads—more reasons to plant and enjoy this ornamental culinary and medicinal herb.
The juice of Onions mix’t with the decoction of Penniroyal . . .
anointed upon a pild [bare] or bald head in the sun,
bringeth the haire againe very speedily.
—John Gerard, The Herbal, 1597
- Pick up your copy of Susan’s latest China Bayles mystery, Hemlock. And settle in for some good reading.
- Discover southernwood, an artemisia, the herb traditionally associated with St. Ninian. In Scotland, this plant is known as “apple-ringie.” Also known as Lad’s love, boys presented it to girls they wanted to court. It was used as an astringent antiseptic treatment for teen-age acne, which may be the real reason for the name Lad’s love. “Boiled with barley meal and laid unto them, southernwood takes away pimples.” —Nicholas Culpeper, Herbal, 1653. A sturdy aromatic plant for your herb garden.
- Bake this simple and wholesome apple cake in honor of Johnny Appleseed, then take the kids outdoors and plant an apple tree in your backyard. An occasion to share information about the importance of trees on our planet.
- Plant a hops vine. If you’re looking for a vigorous, reach-for-the-sky herbal vine for your garden, consider hops. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, the fruit has been used in salves and wound compresses. Hops have a mild sedative action and have been used in teas, as well as sleep pillows. And beer, too, of course. Here’s an informative history of this fascinating plant.
- Celebrate Punch Day. The word “punch” derives from the Hindustani word “panch,” or five. No, Punch Day is not an excuse to drink five glasses of punch–or go next door and land one on your neighbor’s nose. It celebrates the traditional punch recipe of five ingredients: alcohol, lemon (or other fruits), sugar, water, and spiced tea. For a galaxy of stellar party punches, check out this collection of 17 drinkable recipes.
- Learn why blackberries were the center of the traditional Michaelmas celebration and what the devil had to do with it. And don’t those Michaelmas dumplings look scrumptious?
- Find out what’s going on at MeadowKnoll by visiting Susan’s blog, Lifescapes. On BookScapes, she posts reviews of books she has read and notes on writing/publishing. If you’re not on her blog mailing list, sign up at the bottom of the page.