Echinacea is one of those well known herbs that has gotten quite a bit of press for the last few years. It is not the only herb of it's kind, but it easy for many new to the world of herbs and identifying plants to recognize. I keep echinacea on hand at all times, both the dried roots and as tinctures.
Fall is the time when you go out to thin the echinacea patch. Do this every second or third year to keep the echinacea flowering well, and your root stock full. You will need to dig on either a damp day, or water the area well and allow it to soak up the moisture for a few hours before going in with a garden spade.
2. Comfrey Root
You may notice a theme with this list. Harvesting in the fall means that plants have sent most of their energy into the roots for storage, so harvesting during this time means you take that stored energy and use it for herbal health.
Comfrey roots are another difficult-to-dig, but wonderful herbs. The skin healing power of comfrey can't be beat, but first you have to wrestle with getting the roots out of the ground.
3. Dill Seed
Dill seems to grow fast and furious in my gardens. I can't keep enough of it on hand, once pickling season comes along. Dill seed is also good for herbal preparations to help with indigestion.
Harvest dill seed carefully, or you will end up with a lifelong commitment to this tasty herb. If you are wondering how to use it for indigestion, place a teaspoon of the dry seeds into a cup of boiling water and allow to cool. Draw off the water and sip as a simple herbal remedy for acidic stomach or overindulgence.
4. Fennel Seed
Fennel seed is both useful and delicious. Try nibbling a few seeds after your next meal as a breath freshener.
Because fennel and dill do not make good garden partners, plant them at opposite sides of the garden. You can harvest the seeds from fennel by placing a bag over the top of the plant and holding it closed while you gently shake the seeds from the spent flower heads. Keep it simple and keep that fennel contained!
Harvest for teas and for cooking. I like to harvest seed to save and trade during the winter months. They keep very well, and I have had really great luck with adding some fennel seed to other herbs as a flavoring that kids like.
5. Burdock Root
If you look carefully, you will find a wild harvest of burdock almost anywhere you look. It grows quickly and stands tall above most of the other wild herbs. Unfortunately, the part that you want this time of year is the strong, deep taproot. This is one herb that requires a good rain to loosen things, and a strong back to work that root out with.
If harvesting burdock is not your style, feel free to buy a taproot all cleaned and ready to go as your Asian food market. It is sold in the produce aisle as Gobo root, and very inexpensive.
Harvest the root of burdock in the first year, the seed in the second.