Gardening

Lavender: Tips for growing, harvesting and using along with some yummy recipes

Some hidcote lavender growing in a hedge in my front porch garden

Some hidcote lavender growing in a hedge in my front porch garden

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs with it’s romantic aroma,  delicate blossoms and simple elegance.  It’s used in decorative floral arrangements and bouquets and personal care products as well as in the kitchen.

There are many varieties to choose from.  I personally prefer Grosso Lavender for my bouquets and craft projects.  I use Hidcote for my garden borders, personal body care and culinary uses.  I’ve found that True Lavender is not as hardy for me living in a northern climate and have lost several over the years if not mulched well in the fall.

Here are some tips for growing, harvesting and using along with some yummy recipes!

*There are both tender and hardy perennials, so be sure to determine your Hardiness Zone.  It does best in Zone 5 and above.

*Lavender does well if protected from extreme cold and harsh winds.

*A well drained alkaline soil and full sun is preferred.

*Regular pruning in the spring will help maintain a full, rounded bush, otherwise it has a tendency to get a bit leggy.

*To harvest it for drying, wait until the buds are about halfway open; dry stems in bundles about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, hanging upside down in a cool, airy spot.

*Use it in the laundry~ take a handful of blossoms, securely tie in a linen handkerchief and toss in dryer with your clothes- no more ‘fake’ lavender scented clothes!

*Sprinkle dried lavender stems into the fireplace; as they burn, they’ll delicately scent the air.

Lavender

Lavender isn’t just for sniffing and bouquets. Try these special sweet treats and see how tasty this lovely herb can be!

Lavender Sugar: In a food processor finely chop 2 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers, stems discarded. Add 1 cup of sugar; blend. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Sprinkle on top of ice cream, use in tea, add to sugar cookies or sprinkle on vanilla yogurt.

Summer Melons with Lavender Syrup 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup white grape juice concentrate 2 Tbsp. orange juice 1/4 cup lavender flowers, fresh or dried 4 cups of cubed melons: watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew

1. Bring water, sugar, juice concentrate and juice to a boil. 2. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. 3. Add flower blossoms; cover and steep for 1 hour. 4. Strain flowers. To serve, pour cooled syrup over cut melon cubes; toss lightly to coat; serve immediately.

Lavender Cookies 3 1/2 Tbsp. dried Lavender, 1 cup butter, 3 eggs, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 3 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Grind lavender and sugar into a powder in food processor; cream in butter, add sugar and lavender then the beaten eggs; add vanilla. 2. Sift the soda & baking powder into one cup of the flour; add to sugar mixture. 3. Alternate remaining flour with mild to make a soft dough. 4. Use a cookie scoop to form cookies; drop on ungreased cookie sheet; bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

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Happy Day,
Jean

 

Jean Smith
Jean Smith is a mother of six, organic farmer and freelance writer dwelling with her family on their five acre farm in the Thumb of Michigan. She is a self professed master gardener with over 15 years experience who loves to write and teach about her passion for and knowledge in organic gardening. You can read more of Jean's writings at her blog, For Dragonflies And Me