Grain Buds, (Chinese: 小满), is the 8th of 24 solar terms in a year. It falls on May 21 this year. During this time in northern China, grains of winter wheat start to fill, but are still not ripe. That’s where “Grain Buds,” or “Xiaoman” in Chinese, gets its name.
After Grain Buds, the temperature difference between north and south China gradually decrease, while rainfall increases. With winter wheat almost ready, farmers are applying fertilizer and readying themselves for the harvest.
In old China, the 24 solar terms were created to guide agricultural production. But the solar term culture is still useful today to guide people’s lives through special foods, cultural ceremonies, gardening and even healthy living tips that correspond with each solar term.
Here are some advices for you during the “Grain Buds” period.
High temperatures and humidity are common during the Grain Buds period. The increase in temperature over this season may also give rise to nettle rash, rheumatism, sweat spots, eczema and other skin diseases. It would be beneficial to consume the herb of the common sow thistle, which is one of the earliest edible potherbs in China.
It can be made into different types of dishes. You can blend it with salt, vinegar, peppers or garlic. It tastes savory and helps people feel refreshed. Some people boil the herb with water and then squeeze out the juice, which can be used to make soup.
It is also a good season for eating fish due to the great increase in rainfall, which creates high quality seafood.