Lavender All Year Long



Landscapers and homeowners often choose to plant the variety of English lavender along walkways, within rock gardens, and in containers to accentuate the beauty of the color purple.  As a tall, fragrant plant reaching a minimum of 24 inches in height and width, it thrives in zones five through eight where the temperatures are both hot and relatively dry. Like many herbs, harvesting lavender can occur at any point during the growing season.  Cut the stem at least three inches above the ground.  Beyond a sleep aid, lavender is an amazing herb to be enjoyed all year long!

 

An Edible Flower

It is rare to connect lavender to culinary dishes; however, you can wow family or an upcoming dinner party by creating a unique dessert infused with lavender.  The process requires you to pour two tablespoons of lavender for each cup of boiling water or milk.  Allow the contents to steep for 30 minutes.  After straining, consider using the infusion to make lavender crème brûlée, cheesecake, or scones.

Home Pharmacy Use

As a versatile flower, lavender’s medicinal benefits are well-known.  In addition to soothing the nervous system and aiding sleep patterns, the plant has protective effects to kill bacteria, ease pain and accelerate healing, as well as treats burns, acne, and moisturize the skin.  Try infusing the herb in a tea, vinegar, or alcohol.

  • Promoting Relaxation: In a two-inch stainless-steel tea ball infuser, mix the dried contents of mint leaves, lavender, and chamomile in equal amounts.  Allow to steep in hot (not boiling) water.  Add honey for taste.
  • Air Freshener: On the stove, simmer lavender and citrus peels in a pot of water.
  • Herbal Body Care: Cut a 14-by-26-inch rectangle of flannel cotton.  Sew two and a half edges together, creating tight overlapping stitches. Turn it inside out and pour one cup of dried lavender with three to four cups of uncooked rice (it should be flexible, not full). Then stitch the opening closed.  This heating pad only requires three minutes in the microwave to ease sore muscles or cold feet. (It also make a nice handmade present family and friends will value and use often.) Additionally, sewing smaller bags containing herbs can successfully replace dryer sheets.
  • Tincture: Similar to the practice of canning, sterilized conditions are vital to your success.  You will need a pint jar with a screw-top lid, 1 cup of fresh herbs or ¼ cup of ground dried herbs, and 1 pint of brandy or vodka with a minimum of 80 proof to prevent mildew from forming in the bottle.  After filling your jar, make sure there are no bubbles.  Store in a dark place and shake regularly.  After one month, strain using muslin cloth or cheesecloth to filter out the stems and flowers.  Press to remove all the oils.  Pour liquid into a bottle of dark glass, label, and store in a cool, dark location for a maximum of five years.  Add the tincture to a bath or use as a skin toner.  Various combinations of herbs remedy cold and flu symptoms (thyme, echinacea, and mint), or soothe an upset stomach (dill and peppermint.)

Every small glass bottle of lavender contains the essence of a summer past.  Upon unscrewing the lid, the sweet fragrance may tickle the nose.  It is much more than a pretty flower or a sleep aid. Try new possibilities, whether it is a culinary use, medicinal benefit, or unique craft.  With a multitude of purposeful applications, it is practical to start growing your own and adding another glass vial to your kitchen cabinet collection.


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