Friday, July 1, 2011

This entry was intended to be published in May.

Besides lavender, I've also started drying other herbs. It seems a little strange because I started drying while we were still planting. With the long, wet spring, it was hard to get anything in the ground until the second half of May. John, our helper Zach and I went on a planting spree and put in just under 200 plants in about 10 or 11 days. While we were doing that, I saw how many things were ready to harvest. The perennial herbs were certainly lush and full due to all the early rainfall.

The first thing I harvested were rose petals. I dry them to use in potpourri, to include in sleep pillows and to sell in the shop. We have several varieties of roses growing in the gardens. An unidentified dark pink, fragrant climbing rose dries well along with the single bi-colored and fragrant Rosa Mundi. These two only bloom once, almost always in June and usually close to the time lavender blooms. We also have some David Austin English roses. They are pretty, multi-petaled and somewhat fragrant, but the petals shrink considerably and also darken as they dry so I prefer the other two varieties for drying. I dry them flat on screens which works well.

I've cut back and dried oregano, lemon balm and tarragon along with a few varieties of mint. Many of the perennials are huge and I could easily harvest twice as much, except I've run out of drying room. Chamomile flowers are easy to dry and great for tea. They flower over a couple weeks, so that harvest continues. Remember that herbs will re-absorb moisture from the air on humid days so don't store your dried material until they are thoroughly dry-crispy, like cornflakes. If mold develops on dried herbs, they must be discarded.

What's looking good in the garden:
clary sage - tall, sturdy flower stalks that bloom a long time
rose campion - bright magenta flowers surrounded by soft, gray foliage
thymes - several varieties blooming with lilac flowers, making the bees very happy
valerian - tall white aromatic flowers
hydrangeas - big, beautiful and bright blue

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