August in the forest garden.

September has arrived and with it a slight change in the air. The mornings are colder with lots of dew glistening on plants and spider’s webs and the colours are slowly changing in the garden.

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There are still lots of flowers and herbs and the bumble bees are busy.

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We picked a lot of Calendula flowers and Rosemary in August to make skin remedies for the coming year. First we used our dehydrator to dry the flowers and sprigs before pushing them into clean glass jars. We filled the jars almost to the top with extra virgin olive oil and put the lids on. Now they are placed in a sunny window and we turn them over a few times a day to get all the beneficial compounds out of the herbs. If you use the herbs fresh without drying them first they are much more likely to go mouldy during the process. The oil needs to infuse for about four weeks before it can be strained through a fine cloth and used for remedies. We are planning to mix the oil with cacao butter and possibly some bees wax to create massage bars and skin cream. The Calendula is very good for hands that have been gardening all day or doing other tasks and the Rosemary is excellent for tired and aching muscles. We will let you know how we get on with this project next month.

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Our main circle and the herb garden circle are the only large flat areas we have as all the rest of the garden is being transformed into forest garden woodland, with trees for the canopy, a shrub layer and under planting with many useful herbs and groundcovers. We have many winding paths and as the garden matures, the design of it becomes more interesting. It is no longer possible to see it all at once but it has become a place to explore and get lost in.

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We are very grateful now that we decided to include the large and small circle as it provides a restful contrast to the planted up areas. If you are planning a forest garden we believe a flat clearing or lawn is important as a place for rest, relaxation and for enjoying some sunshine. Most other parts of a forest garden end up in time as a more or less shady area.

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We have been harvesting plums, apples and many vegetables in the past month. We now have two big jars of plum chutney maturing and six lovely plum-ginger fruit leathers that we made in the dehydrator. It is such a useful tool for preserving large amounts of fruit, herbs and vegetables and we think it is one of the best investments we have made. Ours is a nine tray Excalibur that you can read about here.

All in all it has been a beautiful month in our garden.

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We are now looking forward to harvesting a lot more in September and working on sorting out and improving our shed, that has been a messy storage area since we moved in. We have great and exciting plans of creating a forge, a woodwork area and hopefully a sewing and craft-room as well. The first step is to build more bottle walls and install windows and doors. We will share our progress with you here on the blog over the coming months.

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