The Total Guide To Growing, Harvesting & Using Lavender
Lavender is packed with therapeutic value and is widely used in various forms for a number of conditions. It is an old plant that stretches across lands and cultures. The early Egyptians used shrouds soaked in lavender to embalm their mummies, while Romans used lavender in purifying baths.
For those wanting to get the health benefits of it, know that if you suffer from stress, tension headaches and migraines, lavender may bring you relief. This popular herb also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint and muscular pain
Lavender is also good for the entire digestive system, as well as in aromatherapy, lavender can help coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma, sore throats, laryngitis and even pneumonia.
Planting & Growing Lavender
Lavender plants require well-drained soil. If you notice your soil is not draining well, add builder’s sand before you plant. Create a small mound for each plant before you put it in the ground. Lavender can also be planted in raised beds. This will help you manage the soil quality and the drainage better.
Lavender prefers alkaline soil with a pH of 6.5 or higher. Do a test of the pH of your soil, if you are not sure.
The plants should be about 18 inches apart in an area where they will receive full sunshine and good air circulation. The soil should dry completely before you water it. If there is too much water or humidity your lavenders might get fungus and the leaves might turn brown. To prevent this from happening, sprinkle more sand or small pebbles around the plant to evaporate the humidity faster. And if you want to keep plants healthy all year long, sprinkle a little bone meal around them in the fall.
Planting Lavender Seeds
If you would love to grow lavender from seeds, you will need to start three months before your expected last spring frost date.
First, prepare a planting tray. To do this, mix equal parts washed medium-grit sand with lightweight seed-starting mix. Make small troughs in the planting mixture just one-eighth of an inch deep. Drop the seeds every one inch and cover with a very light layer of sand. Mist the seeds lightly.
Place a warming mat under the seed tray to keep the temperature between 75 and 80 F during the day and 55 F at night. Don’t forget to cover with plastic wrap, and keep the mixture wet. After 15 to 20 days, the seeds will germinate.This is the time when you should thin the seedlings to every 3 inches. One week from germination, transplant the strongest seedlings to small planting pots. After two months, transplant them into the garden.
How To Harvest Lavender
The best time to harvest lavender is after buds have formed but before the flowers have opened. Gather a handful of long flower stems in your hand and always harvest the whole plant at one time. Dry lavender bunches in a warm and dry location that is not in direct sunlight. They will be completely dry in 2-4 weeks. Once they are dry, rub the buds in a clean and dry bowl. Store them in a cool and dark location.
Lavender contains many beneficial properties, and has a wide number of applications. Here are just some of the most beneficial uses of lavender:
- Ease the itch and swelling from bug bites by dabbing a little lavender oil on the bite.
- Reduce inflammation and ease joint and muscle pain by massaging lavender oil into sore spots.
- If you can’t sleep, drop a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow.
- Use dry lavender flower heads mixed with dry chamomile to make a soothing anti-stress tea.
- Keep your skin feeling fresh and vibrant by mixing your own lavender skin scrub. Mix together 1 cup of white sugar, ½ cup melted organic coconut oil, 15 drops lavender oil and 2 tablespoons dried lavender buds. Store the scrub in a glass jar and use daily.
- Make a fresh facial tonic by adding 5 drops of lavender essential oil to 5 oz of water.
- Ease headaches (especially tension headaches) by rubbing a few drops of lavender oil on your temples.
- Make a sweet and uplifting room spray by adding 2 drops of lavender, tea tree and peppermint essential oil to 2 cups of water n a spritzer bottle.
- Reduce the severity of menstrual cramps by adding a few drops of lavender oil to a carrier oil such as almond oil and rubbing on your abdomen.