The Birmingham Lavender Harvest
Birmingham isn’t best known for its lavender harvest, but this year’s crop from my neighbour’s garden was scentsational! Thanks Sue!
Read on to find out how to harvest and dry the lavender from your own back garden and use it to create a unique gift making good use of up-cycled materials.
The 2021 harvest from 12 fat bundles of lavender weighed in at a whopping 390 grams of harvested blossoms. Checking on line prices today, lavender is currently selling at £31.58 a kilo. So by my calculation, the Birmingham lavender harvest has a retail value of £12.32!
Sue’s lavender is traditional English Lavender – Lavandula Angustifolia, which is the very best choice if you are looking to use it to make something for inducing calm and relaxation.
The best time to harvest your lavender is in the late morning on a dry, sunny day. Your want your stalks to be as dry as possible – any dampness will lead to mould and spoil all your precious blossoms.
Use sharp pruning shears or scissors and either snip off the blossom filled heads and discard the rest of the stalk or snip off the whole stalk so you can tie it into traditional bunches, ready for hanging.
How to Dry Lavender
Your beautifully fragrant lavender blossoms are only useful once they are properly dried. You can’t miss out this step. If you do, you risk ending up with useless, mouldy blossoms. How disappointing would that be?!
Drying your lavender is a very straightforward process though and there are a number of easy methods to choose from. You are aiming to finish up with lavender blossoms that feel brittle to touch – no longer soft and squashy.
Here are some of the ways you can dry out your blossoms:
- Lay all the stalks out flat on a dry table in a warm room and just wait for them to dry.
- Hang bunches of 15 – 20 stalks up in a dark, warm place, leaving room for air to circulate between the stalks to aid the drying process. You could tie them onto a wire coat hanger to make hanging them up easier.
- Dry it in your oven at a low temperature of around 200 degrees F/100 degrees C. Spread a thin layer of lavender stalks on a baking tray and leave them in the oven for around 10 – 15 minutes. The blossoms should fall off easily when you run your hands over the dried stalks. Be sure to let them cool first and be careful – they can be a bit sharp and prickly in places one they are dried!
- My preferred method is to use a microwave. I dry herbs this way too. You need to de-stem the blossoms first and spread them out in a thin layer sandwiched between a couple of sheets of kitchen roll. I put two small pots of water in the microwave to absorb some of the heat and prevent scorching.Let the microwave run on full power for 3 – 4 minutes in total. It is best to do this in 30 second bursts so you can check progress at each stage and avoid any risk of ruining your treasured crop.
How to Store Your Dried Lavender
Once harvested and dried, you need to make sure that your lavender blossoms ar kept away from light, heat and humidity to ensure the they retain their colour and beautiful fragrance. Airtight glass jars (especially coloured ones that don’t let any light in) are ideal. Zip lock bags are another cheap alternative. Store your lavender in a cool dark place until you are ready to use it.
So now – what shall we make with it all?
With the generous amount of lavender that has been donated, I should be able to make something really luxurious. I’m thinking maybe a sleep pillow?
This pretty vintage tea cloth was donated by my friend Julia and could just be the perfect fabric to use?
Watch this space …
and Heart Up-Cycling!