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How To Use Your Home Grown Lavender



There’s not much in this world that can top the beauty of a lavender field. At Osmia, we often praise this fantastic purple plant, and I harvest my own alpine crop annually for use in some of our products. Join us as we explore a day in the life of a beautiful lavender bud, and watch the journey from plant to harvest to luxuriously infused oil.
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WHEN SHOULD I HARVEST MY LAVENDER?

 
Lavender should be harvested when you notice the flowers at the base of the stem have almost started to open, and the flowers at the top are still closed—this is the peak time for the brilliant purple hue and soft aroma. For me, in the mountains of Colorado, this usually happens in late June or early July, depending on the conditions.
Harvesting first thing in the morning is best, and only if the weather is dry. You don't want moisture in the plants at harvest, or mold spores can get caught in the drying flowers. And harvesting late in the day is not ideal, because too much time in the sun can bake the plant, and decrease the color and the essential oil in the buds, making them dry and less potent. So grab your cup of coffee or tea, and listen to the other early birds as you harvest.

HOW DO I HARVEST MY LAVENDER?


Tools needed: a sickle and a big pile of rubber bands!

If your plants are in the ground, a sickle is the best tool. Lavender is a sturdy plant, so grab a bundle, and use your sickle to cut it, leaving a few inches of stem at the bottom. Be extremely careful that your fingers and thumb are completely out of the way as you make a swift cut with the sickle. If the stems are not densely packed (some varietals are more dense than others), you can gently twist the bunch before you cut, creating a tighter group of stems which will make it easier to cut. As you harvest, consider leaving some uncut lavender for the bees to enjoy. Once you have a nice, fat handful of purple flowers, use the flat side of the sickle to tap the cut ends so they are all even, and prepare to bundle!
If you're cutting from potted plants, a pair of good scissors is a better tool. Simply snip a stem or three at a time until you have a nice little bunch.

HOW DO I BUNDLE MY LAVENDER?


Tools needed: the bundle of lavender and rubber bands.


Take each tidy handful of lavender stems and secure them with two or three rubber bands immediately after cutting them. The stems will lose water, and therefore volume, as they dry, so a rubber band is better than a string—it will contract with the drying stems. Also, be sure to use more than one rubber band on each bunch, so that if one breaks during drying, you've got a backup system in place.
Tip: Do not try to harvest all the lavender and bundle it later. It's vastly easier to rubber band the bundles as you go!

HOW DO I DRY MY LAVENDER?


Tools needed: twine and a wall or rafters.


Once you have your bundles ready, thread your twine through the rubber band, creating a knot. I still use the medical knots I tied while stitching my patients in the ER, but there's no need to get that technical—just a sturdy knot will do the trick. My favorite way to secure them is by tying a bundle on each end of a piece of twine, then hanging the twine on a hook or a nail, like fish on a fishing line. Another option is using a horizontal wire or piece of twine, and then using paper clips to hang the bundles by their rubber bands from the wire. The bundles should always hang flowers-down, so the essential oil of the plants can concentrate in the buds as they dry. The bundles should hang in a cool, protected place for a minimum of 10-14 days to ensure they are completely dry. I usually leave mine hanging for a month, and I make sure to protect them from moisture!

HOW DO I REMOVE DRIED LAVENDER FLOWERS?

This is so simple, and so effective! All you need is a pair of clean rubber gloves and a clean bucket. We prefer to use a sanitized bucket that has been sprayed with alcohol and allowed to dry, but that's because our lavender is going into your skincare products! 

Holding a bunch of dried lavender flowers with the buds facing down into the bucket, and a few inches below the rim, gently roll the bunch back and forth between your hands, allowing the flowers to fall into the bucket. Keep rolling gently until you have only stems left in your hand. When you're done with all the bunches, you can remove the rubber bands and compost the stems if you have composting available where you are.

HOW DO I INFUSE LAVENDER IN OIL?


First, pick the oil you'd like to infuse. For lip balms, we love organic olive or castor oil. For body oils, try jojoba or sunflower oil. In a clean, dry jar, add one tablespoon of lavender buds per cup of oil, secure the lid tightly, and place in the container somewhere you'll remember to shake it at least once a day. Allow the oil to infuse for three weeks, then strain through cheesecloth to remove the flowers.

WHAT'S A GOOD DIY LAVENDER HEALING BALM RECIPE?

Here's a super simple recipe from our production manager, Monika. Use it on bumps, bruises, bites, and small cuts! 

1 tablespoon *lavender infused olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil  
1 tablespoon beeswax (pellets or grated) 
 15 drops lavender essential oil

Combine ingredients in a small, heatproof measuring cup.
Heat in a double boiler, with the measuring cup sitting in the upper pot of water, which only needs an inch or so of water.
Once the beeswax melts, pour the liquid into a jar with a lid and allow to cool.
Wipe your measuring cup with a paper towel while still warm, and clean in the dishwasher. 
We love this fragrant flower and hope you'll trying growing and harvesting your own one day. In the meantime, learn more about the magic of lavender in skincare, relieving anxiety, and taking the sting out of a bug bite.
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