Friday, July 31, 2009

Lavender Harvest

Since my lavender has bloomed, I have been waiting for the best morning to harvest it. The info that I have read deems a dry,cool morning to do this.The reason being that the essential oil levels are higher at this point,and they diminish during a hot day. However,our New Hampshire summer is not being very cooperative with this plan. If it's cool,then it's either raining,or everything is wet from the night before.If it's not raining,it's very humid and warm. So,noticing my Provence Lavender was starting to turn a bit brown on some of the blossoms,I had to bite the bullet and do the total opposite of what is considered proper lavender harvesting protocol.
Last night I cut them after supper,and it had been a humid and hot day.Of course, I should've done this before they started getting a bit brown,but I waiting to see if the weather would cooperate. I know the blossoms aren't at their best point,but I am sure I can still work with them.
I picked the best looking ones,filled my basket,and decided to see what would happen.Since I live in a small home, I really don't have the ideal drying area. It has to be a warm,dark space. Well, my living room will not work,because I get eastern morning exposure and southern afternoon exposure. Zach's room has southern and western exposure. Even though he has blinds to help ward off the hot sun in the summer, I can't expect him to keep them down all the time. My bedroom also has southern and western exposure,and I have white,thin curtains-no blinds.
The bathroom is not an ideal place either ( western exposure). As you can see most of my rooms have sunlight for the majority of the day. The attic,while dark,is too hot,and the basement too damp. So that leaves my dining room,or my eating nook,as I refer to it as. My kitchen and this area is one big room,so I don't consider it an actual separate room. It is the space where I have my dining room table and woodstove. It also the only space where I don't have direct sunlight at all. It has northwestern exposure and is the darkest of all my rooms,though it still has some natural light. Instead of hanging the lavender exposed,which would look nice but would lessen the natural oils,I bundled them up,and put a brown paper bag over the blossoms,which I secured with twine. I then hung the two bundles from a pair of candle fixtures that I have. The one thing with putting the bag over the blossoms is that one has to be real careful that the flowers don't rub against the inside of the bag. I got this info from "Country Wisdom and Know How",but they didn't not mention exactly what would happen if the blossoms rubbed against the bag. I assume it has to do with the essential oils breaking down.
After a few weeks,the lavender should be ready to use. The blossoms should be stored in a dark colored container.
Once I get the lavender dried,I am going to try my hand at lavender tea and lemonade,and perhaps lavender sugar. I also want to find the best way to help my headaches.
I do have allergies,which I never had an issue with until I reached my late thirties. While I was preparing the lavender for drying, I noticed my throat was scratchy and my eyes itchy. I hope that this is just because of the freshness of the flowers and not something that will prevent me from using it when it's dried.

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