One question I'm always asked when I mention that I have a lavender farm is: "What do you do with lavender?"
I've discovered that the uses of lavender and its essential oil are almost limitless.
From its early cultivation and use to its presence in today's gardens, lavender has a long and varied history.
Lavender has been a favorite herb for centuries. In ancient times, lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptian's, Phoenicians, and people of Arabia. The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water and it was from the Latin word "lavo" meaning "to wash" that the herb gets its name. Lavender perfumed linens and clothes and was strewn on the floors of homes in the medieval times. Because of its antiseptic properties, during World War I lavender essential oil was used to disinfect floors, walls, and other surfaces.
The 'English' lavender varieties were not locally developed in England, but were transported from the Mediterranean area in the 1600's around the same time the first lavender plants were arriving in North America.
Not only is lavender beautiful to look at, but it smells great, too. Planting some in your garden will ensure a scent that people have enjoyed for years.
A low maintenance plant for the garden, an established two to three year old plant, will need little additional water beyond what is provided by nature. It thrives in low fertility soil and ranks high as a sustainable plant because it does not rely on pesticides or fertilizers. Lavender is best propagated by taking cuttings from mature lavender plants.
- A particularly effective relief from sunburn is to add a few drops of lavender essential oil to distilled mineral water and use an atomizer to spray on tender skin.
- Five to ten drops of lavender essential oil in a bath is deeply relaxing, mild antiseptic and will aid in the healing of tiny cuts, scratches and insect bites.
- As a relaxant, spritzing one's pillow with lavender water is enough to lull insomniacs into a peaceful slumber.
- Applied to insect bites, it soothes and relieves itching.
Many cosmetics including bath and beauty products such as perfumes, lotions, lip balms, salves and bath salts contain the essential oils of lavender. Included in shampoo, it benefits all hair types and promotes healthy and manageable hair.
- You can also enjoy your lavender as a fresh, flower arrangement. Trim off the bottom inch of stems and change the water every day and it will provide 1-2 weeks of beauty.
- If you wish to dry your lavender bundle, it's easy. Make sure it is tightly bound with a rubber band as it shrinks slightly as it dries. Hang the bundle upside down in a dark place with good ventilation. It will take a couple of weeks to dry.
- The lavender buds can be removed and put in sachets to keep moths away from wool and your clothes smelling fresh and clean.
- Lavender lends a distinct floral and slightly sweet flavor to many dishes. For most cooking the dried buds are crushed and used, though some chefs experiment with the leaves as well. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, which is where the scent and flavor of lavender are best derived.
- Lavender smells like it should taste wonderful, but the taste of most lavenders is not one that can be easily defined nor is it one most people like right away. Both fresh and dried flowers and leaves can be used in culinary preparations. Recipes using lavender are generally on the sweet side but lavender can be blended with Rosemary and other strong tasting herbs in the mint family such as Sage, Oregano, Thyme and Mint.
- Some of my favorite lavender flavored foods include tea, lemonade, cookies, ice cream and chicken or pork.
Take time to enjoy the lavender my friend, growing in the wind.
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