Musings on the Season

The last couple days have really let us know here in Beijing that the Summer is indeed over and that Autumn has dug its heels in. We have had bright blue skies, something we don’t see enough of here in Beijing, brought in by the cool north winds. I was up at the Autumn Reine Learning Garden twice this week to collect seed and clean out the greenhouse in preparation for a little “artificial” growing season that we can steal here. The finches are absolutely loving the Perilla frutensces seeds that I have yet to harvest and the roma tomatoes show clear signs that it has been a bit more nippy there (20km north of the city) than we have experienced here in the concrete jungle of ~25million people.

I have also been making some tinctures of the last vestiges of above ground parts such as artichoke leaf, Hyssop, and a few others. I am waiting with baited breath for the time when I can start harvesting the root crops for tincture. There will be echinacea, mullein, and Chinese skullcap, among others. And, the Xanthium fruits are almost mature. I will be, for the first time, using the traditional preparation techniques to get to pesky spines off the fruits and prepare them for tincture and tea. We have a about 8-10 of volunteers in the garden that have gotten pretty large, so I expect a harvest of around 3-4 kg of the fruits.

The traditional preparation of Xanthium includes dry frying the fruits in a wok until the spine have burned off. This is also supposed to reduce some amount of toxicity this amazing sinus medicinal is supposed to have. This botanical is frequently combined with another fine sinus herb, Magnolia buds, to create one of the greatest combinations (dui yao 對藥) I know for treating sinus congestion. Of course I also like to add Angelica dehurica (bai zhi 白芷), Ambrosia dumosa (or other species), Chinese Skullcap, Yerba Santa, and Yerba Mansa to this combination and I, along with Benjamin Zappin, have found this to be extraordinary as a starting point for difficult to treat, or even simple, sinus congestion.

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