The conventional and unconventional sides of my life.

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Harvesting Lavender

I did some not fun stuff today like doing the dishes and catching up on paying bills (blech!) but I also had some real awesome moments today too. Earlier today I was tending to my plants on the back deck. I consider myself to be an amateur gardener. I’ve grown various herbs and even some tomatoes and zucchini for the past few summers now in EarthBoxes on my deck. I also read here and there various things about gardening . Earlier this spring, I decided to get all my gardening books all in one place. I moved a small bookshelf from the master bedroom to the living room and proceeded to FILL it 2/3rds full of gardening books (I never realized I had quite that many!) Despite having grown some things successfully for a few years (I’ve had various and many unsuccessful attempts too), and having a library of gardening books, I’m mainly “winging it” (a mix of going by feel, inspiration and educated guess).

On my deck right now I have three EarthBoxes full of herbs, another 4 herbs waiting to go into another box, wave petunias in a tiered container, another container that has 6-7 different types of plants (that one I completely “winged” when putting it together So far it looks pretty nice and I think it will fill in nicely over the summer), and this lavender plant that is in it’s third year:

Lavender is a great plant because it kind of thrives on neglect (which this plant had a lot of the past two years). Earlier this summer I decided to top off the soil in the container with some blended compost (cow and mushroom) especially since the container has not had any soil amendments in nearly two years.  Last year I had a busy travel schedule during the late spring and early summer so my lavender plant never got harvested. Last week I consulted a few of my gardening reference books on when to harvest the lavender. They all basically said to harvest them as soon as most of the flowers are open. It looks like I may have waited a day or two too long (I’m not really sure. I’m “winging it”, remember?) because some of the earliest blossoms had a few brown flowers on them. When you look closely at the plant, you can see that the new growth is a brighter green than the older, more woody growth. I made sure to leave a few inches of this new growth when I was cutting the flower stalks.

While I was harvesting the lavender, a bee came to the plant going from blossom to blossom. I stuck the stalks that I had already cut closer to the plant and let the bee do his pollinating/nectar collecting on those flowers as well. While I really appreciate bees, I still freak out a bit when they buzz near my ears. But since this bee was no where near my head, I enjoyed watching him go from flower to flower on the blooms I was holding.

I still have some more lavender to harvest but here is the bundle I harvested this morning. In the background are various plants that still need to get in the ground and the petunias which are doing awesome so far (I planted some last year but they quickly died out. Then again, there was that whole traveling a bunch in a five week period thing). I proceeded to take this bundle of lavender, twine and scissors to the basement so I could hang it up to dry. You’ll notice I didn’t mention my camera in the above list. Oops – no pictures of the lavender hanging in the basement to dry. I’m attending a Litha ritual in a couple of weeks and will be bringing this lavender there as a gift. I love the satisfaction I get when I harvest from plants that I am growing. I especially love that connection with nature.

Speaking of harvesting, I brought in a sprig of mint from my spearmint plant (Tip: mint plants are invasive. It is best to plant them in containers by themselves or they can quickly spread and take over other plants) and made some Lemon Youkou tea that I bought from Teavana the other day. I crushed the spearmint in my hand and put it in a glass of ice so that I could add the tea to it which I then sweetened with local sourwood honey.  The picture on the right is what the loose tea looks like.

Edited to add that I’ve linked up to Southern Fried Gal’s Garden Party.