Note: This post by Susan Sachs Lipman is part of the Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World book tour. If you enjoy it, then you might want to register for a chance to win the featured giveaway at RedWhiteandGrew.com this month!
Whether you’re homeschooling, unschooling, traditional schooling or pre-schooling, you’re probably beginning to feel the slightly shorter days that signal the passing of summer. Fortunately, there are many ways to enjoy your garden now and savor its bounty once summer is over.
Here are just a few, compiled with the spirit of the victory garden in mind.
Make a Flower Press
Pressed flowers and other botanicals are beautiful reminders of your time in nature and can be used to create many lovely objects, such as placemats or bookmarks.
You can press flowers in thick books, like phone directories, or make this traditional flower press, which presses items to flatten and dry them, while also allowing some air to circulate.
• 2 squares of particle board or wood, about 5″ × 5″ and 1/2″ thick.
• 2 same- size squares each of newspaper, plain paper, and cardboard
• Drill and lanyard lacing or string, or adjustable C- clamp, or bungee cord
Drill four holes in the wood pieces, each approximately 3/4″ diagonally from each corner. Thread lacing or string between two parallel pairs of holes, leaving enough to tie and untie, as needed.
Seek fresh, dry flowers that you like and think will look pretty when pressed.
Place a piece of cardboard, then a piece of newsprint, then a piece of paper, on top of one of the wood pieces. Place the flower on top of that. If pressing other flowers, make sure that they don’t touch.
Cover the flower with another piece of paper, another piece of newsprint, and another piece of cardboard, in that order.
Place the second piece of wood on top and secure with the lacings, C- clamp, or bungee cord.
Check the flowers in a couple of days. If the newsprint is damp but the flower is not fully pressed, replace it and press again.
Well- off medieval families had still rooms, which housed potions and cures, as well as bunches of dried flowers for sachets and potpourris. Each family had a still room book, full of secret recipes that were passed down through generations of women. Today, flowers can be dried in garages, pantries, kitchens, sheds, and studios.
• Mix of dried herbs and flower petals
• Nonmetallic bowl
• Jars with lids
• Orrisroot powder (available at craft and specialty stores)
• Essential oil and dropper, optional
• Muslin or other drawstring bags, or netting circles and ribbon
• Bowls for display
Smell the flowers in your garden before drying to discern which you might like in a potpourri. Popular potpourri flowers and herbs include calendulas, chamomile, lavender, lemon verbena, mint, roses, and rosemary. Orange peel is also a nice addition.
Choose and gather flowers, herbs or petals when they are just past full bloom and still attractive, and dry them for 1-2 weeks.
To hang dry: Gather into a bunch, remove dense leaves, tie with rubber band or string, and hang upside-down on a nail in a well-ventilated place.
To air dry: Place flowers, leaves, buds, or seeds onto a raised screen, leaving space around each item. (See the Raised Screen directions below.)
Mix a blend of flowers and herbs in a nonmetallic bowl until you arrive at a combination you like.
Add a teaspoon of orrisroot per cup of potpourri mix and stir well to blend. If you’d like, add a few drops of essential oil, in a similar or complimentary scent to the flowers you are using. Write down your formula so you can make it again.
If making sachets, scoop small amounts of the mix into drawstring bags or onto netting circles and secure with ribbon.
If displaying, arrange in an open bowl.
If you’re not using it right away, cure your potpourri by storing it in lidded jars, in a dry, dark place, for two weeks or more.
Make a Raised Screen to Air-Dry Flowers
• Small square of chicken wire or window screen
• 4 pieces of wood, 8″ or any size, as desired, or a box
• Hammer and nails, or glue
If using wood, create a frame out of the wood pieces and nail or glue to secure them.
Cut the screen to fit and place on top of the frame or over the opening of the box. Nail or glue it in place.
Make Fruit Desserts or Jam
If you’re fortunate enough to have fruits and berries in your garden or stores, now’s the time to make some rich jam or wonderful desserts. Of the many jams we make, triple berry jam is our favorite. Complicated and flavorful, it offers a strong taste of sunny summer in the depths of midwinter when you spread just a little on toast. This is our recipe for triple berry jam.
In addition to jams, we love all the old-fashioned fruit desserts that taste especially good when made with fresh summer fruit. Once you’ve picked your berries or other fruit, like apricots, bake them up into an old fashioned berry or apricot buckle or, my personal favorite, a crunchy-topped fruit crisp. Depending upon what is growing where you live, you might try our old-fashioned blueberry buckle or summer triple-berry crisp.
Adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman. The book contains these activities and many more.
All photos courtesy of Susan Sachs Lipman and used here at RedWhiteandGrew.com with permission.
• Check out the blog book tour for Fed Up with Frenzy.
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