July was warm and dry for the first three weeks with much needed rain the last week of the month. Many local farmers will tell you it started to rain just as fruits and vegetables were beginning to show signs of water stress. Rain is always welcomed during a hot July-August season. August is ripening time for this year’s bountiful harvest that begins late August and goes through September. Potatoes, tomatoes, corn, blackberry, squash, grapes, carrots, and apples, to name a few, are preparing now for next month’s harvest.
The worts are an interesting ‘group’ of varied genera plants, some with medicinal properties. Toothwort, cankerwort, wartwort, soapwort, are a few of the wort plants that have been used in alternative medicine for many years.
Mullein (Verbascum) is a biennial plant that has been widely used as an herbal remedy since ancient days. It will grow on poor soil in a sunny spot. The ancient Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides used mullein 2000 years ago, to treat pulmonary diseases. People, including Native Americans, have smoked the dried leaves to relieve respiratory problems. Always consult your doctor before smoking anything out of the garden. We’ll get back to this subject at a later date. Mullein also been used as a topical application for several conditions, including warts and hemorrhoids.
The days are getting noticeably shorter as fall creeps closer. Some weaker birch, ash, and maple trees are starting to show their autumn red, orange, and yellow a month early. Virginia creeper and poison ivy vines will be transitioning into fall color by the end of the month. The early morning mist begins to form in the valley by late August, which generally kicks off the annual color display in the swamp. Grey-twig dogwood and sumac begin their fall change during these foggy early morning events. These warm, still days and nights, are characterized by buzzing cicadas, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, green scummy ponds, dragonflies darting, floating milkweed seed, and the striking flower of the woodland Joe-Pye weed.
One legend has it that Joseph Pye was a Berkshire Indian herb doctor. Using plants like Joe-Pye, bee balm, wood sage, catnip, andSt. John’sWort, he wandered theNew Englandwoodlands in the 1700’s, practicing his natural medicine. He is one of the few early American native doctors to have a plant named after him.
Keep it natural.
Pete and the Natives