Lavender is an easy-to-grow plant with many positive rewards. The plant itself offers beauty, height, and aesthetics to any garden. Also, since lavender is an annual plant, you will get a repeat performance year after year. Another great benefit to growing your own lavender is being able to harvest the flowers or buds from the plants and use them for different purposes.
Lavender is perhaps best known for its calming and relaxing properties. In addition to its use in aromatherapy, lavender is also anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and soothes headaches, bug bites, and skin irritations.
At Chesterhaven Beach Farm we harvest lavender each year. From our own experience, here are a few tips we have discovered that will ensure a great harvest:
– If you harvest before sunrise and do not cut spikes too close to the plant, you can encourage new growth throughout the season.
– Cut the spikes in bunches — it makes it easier for the drying process. You can then tie or wrap the bunches together using a thick rubber band.
– Dry your lavender by hanging the lavender upside down in a cool, dry, dark place for two to three weeks.
– After the lavender has dried, untie the bunches and rub together as if you are trying to start a fire with them to remove the lavender flowers.
If you have a lot of lavender, you can make a drying rack by installing hooks in the ceiling and attaching a single row of chain link to the hooks. Then, you can use paper clips to fasten your bunches to the chain link.
Once you have harvested and dried your flowers, store them in an airtight container. If you are using the lavender for food or body products, place in air-tight freezer bags and store in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Lavender-Infused Body Oil
Makes approximately 16 ounces. Store in two 8-ounce portions.
– quart-size glass jar, sanitized
– measuring cups
– stainless spoon
– cheesecloth or muslin
– two 8-ounce PET plastic or glass jars for storage, sanitized
– 2 cups dried lavender flowers (if using frozen, thaw and dry completely first)
– 16 ounces sunflower oil (you may also use sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, fractionated coconut oil, or any carrier oil you prefer)
– 8 vitamin E capsules
1. Lightly crush dried lavender buds with a mortar and pestle.
2. Sanitize a quart-size glass jar in a dishwasher or use a stove-top method. Make sure jar is completely dry before use.
3. Fill glass jar with dried and crushed lavender buds.
4. Add sunflower oil (or other carrier oil) and cover buds completely.
5. Pierce vitamin E capsules with fork tine or paring knife and empty liquid contents of capsules into the jar. Stir well with stainless-steel spoon.
6. Top off mixture with more carrier oil to prevent air from remaining in the jar and seal with a lid.
7. Store in a warm dark location for 4 to 6 weeks, and be sure to gently shake your jar every day.
Note: If you prefer not to wait 4 to 6 weeks, you can heat the lavender bud and oil mixture in a double boiler to 100 to 120 degrees. Excessive heat will make the oil unstable and the shelf life will be limited. Use a thermometer to make sure temperature of the oil mixture does not go above 120 degrees.
To finish your oil, first strain it by lining a funnel with muslin or cheesecloth. Then insert the funnel into the mouth of your sanitized 8-ounce jars. Pour the oil mixture in and discard the buds. If using the “quick method,” wait for mixture to cool before straining and storing.
Shelf life is between 1 and 2 years, depending on the carrier oil used.