I knew this day was coming, but I didn’t expect the massive bounty of herbs from the garden on this harvest day! I have been taking cuttings of herbs all summer long for my cooking as well as making lotions and potions for healing and comfort. I have also been taking larger cuttings to dry and replenish my culinary stock for colder weather. Today, however was a different kind of harvest.
As we prepare for the colder months ahead, the herbs will start to slow down and to retreat into senecence and or death. I will be mulching the herb bed in the next week or so to prepare for frosty mornings and eventually (eeek) snow. Before that happens, though I needed to take the large harvest of herbs for medicinal and craft purposes.
Lavender was one of my goals today…lavender is fantastic in that it provides two cuttings! First the florets are harvested, dried and either the flower pods are removed or they are left on the stem for crafting…that is what I am doing since I already harvested the culinary portion. The second cutting is the trimmings. To properly maintain lavender bushes, you need to prune them down to a mounded shape. All of those trimmings can be bundled up and dried and used for perfuming your fireplace, firepit or sacred fire this autumn and winter.
The same goes for lemon balm (which there is always a bumper crop). Trim your plants a handful at a time and bundle the trimmings with a rubber band out in the garden, it makes it soooo much easier, then hang these bundles somewhere light and warm to dry. I placed tension rods in my sunporch windows thanks to a suggestion of a friend and tied the bundles to it with kitchen string. Once dried, I will keep stored for gifts this winter!
The more delicate herbs of sage, thyme and the last of the basil are treated a little differently. These stems are picked clean of just the leaves (no stems), washed carefully and either dried on a flat drying rack (see earlier posts) or you can use an electric dehydrator (of which I am now in possesion of). Once dried, they can be packaged in airtight jars kept away from heat and light.
I have a few days before the mornings get too frosty and they herbs die back…I still have to cut back the mugwort, wormwood, bergamot and a few other medicinal herbs and get them dried for winter storage before the cold days are upon us!