Monday, 29 July 2013

Lavender Harvest

We are really pleased with our "lavender farm".  The Hidcote lavender we purchased from Weir's Lane Lavender Farm seem to love the location and the soil amendments we did when we planted them.  See our earlier blog for planting description.  We hoped to create a low lavender hedge. We really like how they work with the roses that are blossoming on our homemade trellises.

Our lavender farm

They are beautiful even though they are not yet in full bloom.  We decided to harvest the lavender, nevertheless, as it was just at the right stage to harvest for drying.  We plan to make dried bouquets and it is best to harvest them just before the flowers open into full bloom. To harvest cut the stem as close to the base as possible.

It's a pleasure to harvest; it looks beautiful and smells wonderful!

Next we stripped the leaves off of the stems.  We kept the leaves to use in potpourri and sachets.

Misha stripping the leaves from the stems
We sorted the lavender into 3 categories: Grade A for dried bouquets and lavender wands, short flower stems for sachets and leaves and broken stems for fresh pot potpourri.  Kevin from Weir's Lane Lavender, told us that the leaves and stems don't have much fragrance when dried.

Sorted lavender
The cats helped by guarding the lavender.

Poppy watching over the bundled lavender

Cinnamon on guard
We needed a warm dry place out of the sun to dry the lavender and our stair railing seemed perfect for the job.  I have to admit that after a week the fragrance of lavender was a bit overwhelming.  It's dry now and out in the mud room waiting to be packaged for dried bouquets we will give as gifts.

Lavender drying on stair rail
We look forward to an even bigger harvest next year now that the lavender is well established.  If you have a sunny dry spot in your garden, think about lavender as an option.  It's beautiful, fragrant and useful in many ways.

Lovely lavender!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Drying Homegrown "Oregano"- Really!

One of the greatest challenges of a veggie garden is to harvest and store the maximum amount of produce with minimal loss. Often, the yield is more than you can eat fresh so if you can find a way to store your crop you can enjoy it all year long.

Herbs are a great crop to preserve.  Drying is the easiest, low energy method, although you can freeze some herbs.  We have a prolific oregano plant that is producing more than we can use right now.

I cut the oregano fairly close to the ground; don't worry it will re-grow.

I then bundled up the cut stems, tied a string around them then hung them in the mud room.  It is best to dry herbs in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight.

When the oregano dried, I stripped the leaves off and packed them into an airtight container.

Store in your kitchen out of direct sunlight and away from curious cats.

Enjoy your dried "homegrown" oregano in your cooking all year round.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Garlic Snakes For Dinner?

It's time to give the garlic a hair cut! Every year around this time the garlic, which we planted in the fall, sends up a seed head called a scape. If you want nice big garlic bulbs then you need to cut the scapes off so the plant puts energy into the bulbs and not into producing seeds.

Looks like I have a handful of grass snakes!

And here's the garlic with its new hair style - no curls!

You can use the garlic scapes in cooking.  Just chop them up like you would a scallion and stir fry or use in soups for a fresh garlicky flavour.

They will be great sauteed with these shitake shrooms.  YUM!