If you have to pick one herb for your garden, choose lavender.
There are many types of lavender. I like the ones with long stalks and big flower heads. All lavender is fragrant and fantastic for medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary uses. Lavandula angustifolia, in its many varieties, are low maintenance and drought tolerant plants.
What’s not to love about lavender? It attracts beneficial insects, like bees and butterflies, and deer and rabbits don’t bother it.
Lavender will soothe and calm nerves and has been used in herbal preparations to treat anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness. Known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps heal minor burns and bug bites
Your herbal first aid kit should contain some quality lavender oil for use in emergencies.
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It’s Harvest Time
May, June, and July are the months for harvesting lavender. If you want to encourage growth for next year, you need to harvest stems from this year’s plants. By the third and fourth year, your lavender plant will fully mature and bring you the potential of hundreds of blooms. A plant, properly cared for, will live about 10 years.
The best time for your lavender harvest is in the morning when the plant is dry and the sun is less intense. This preserves more of the essential oil in the blossoms.
- rubber bands
- a large flat sheet
- lavender to harvest
- a hanger
- Cut a bundle of lavender from your plant. You don’t have to to be gentle with it, just grab a bit and cut, moving along the plant. Just be sure to leave a few inches of green growth on the plant. This is actually good for it. Be careful, going down to the woody portion of the stem is too extreme and will stunt the growth for next year.
- When you have a lavender bundle to fill your hand, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle. Some people cut the bottom off all pretty – I didn’t.
- Open a small paperclip and use it as a hook to hang the lavender bundle on the hanger. Place them upside down in a dry, dark place. The darkness will help the lavender retain its color, and drying it upside down helps lavender retain its blossom shape.
- Let the lavender dry for about a week until there is no moisture remaining on the stems in the center of the bundle.
Now the fun part, decide how you will use your lavender harvest!
Use your lavender harvest:
1. Use lavender in soothing and calming bath salts to relieve tension, stress, and insomnia. To make 12 ounces of Lavender and Rosemary Bath Salts mix these ingredients in a non-reactive bowl or glass jar:
- 1/2 cup Epsom salt
- 1/2 cup Dead Sea salt
- 1/2 cup oatmeal, powdered in a blender
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 to 10 drops of lavender essential oil
Combine the ingredients and mix well. Transfer it to a mason jar with a lid and let it rest for a couple of days so the essential oils are incorporated. Add a handful of lavender bath salts to warm bath water. The Epsom Salts in this recipe help relieve sore muscles and the lavender will help relieve stress. Enjoy!
2. Make lavender antiseptic spritzer with 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons of lavender infused witch hazel, 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil – all placed in an 8 oz spray bottle.
3. Make lavender lemonade with this recipe from Small Footprint Family. It uses honey, lemons, and lavender. Simple and scrumptious!
4. Make lavender infused sugar to give as a gift with your own specialty herbal tea blend. Organic Gardening has a fabulous tutorial for infused sugars.
5. Lavender wands – these sell for big bucks in specialty stores!
a) Use freshly picked lavender but make sure it is not wet from rain or dew. You need the stalks to be bendable. Begin with an uneven number of stalks, the bigger the bundle the bigger your wand.
b) Tie ribbon around the stalks and under the flower bundle to secure.
c) fold the stalks down evenly over the flower head bundle.
d) Weave the ribbon over and under each stalk, around and around, until you have enclosed the entire flower head.
e) Tie off the ribbon at the bottom.
f) Be sure to give the finished wand a roll between your palms to release that wonderful lavender fragrance.
Want more? See also 50 Ways to Use Your Lavender Harvest from Naturopathic by Nature. Share your favorite way to use your lavender harvest in the comments section below.
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