Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Herb's a Good Guy

A few posts back I spoke of my desire to have a true Herb garden.  While I'm years away from that, I've got to say, I am a little excited about my mini harvest last weekend.  After doing some yard work, we noticed that my oregano had just taken over the small garden.  Because the entire family has really enjoyed using this herb in our meals, I was sad to think about it being lost in the frost.  Therefore, we decided to do a harvest and save some for such a time.

But the oregano isn't alone.  I decided to also dry some Rosemary and Lavender, as well.

The key to a good herb harvest is making sure you do it when the leaves are dry.  With the lavender, you want to wait until the buds are "just right".  A fully open and blooming lavender flower won't dry and be utilized for sachet as well as a closed bud.

Cut the plants with a shear and bind with either a rubber band or ribbon.
Cut slits down both sides of a brown paper lunch sack.  You'll dry the herbs in here for a few reasons, it keeps them looking nicer longer (less yellowing of the leaves), keeps dust, dirt (or in Texas, Spider Webs) off them, and, supposedly leaves your herb more potent, or flavorful. 
 I punched a hole in the top corner.  With the ends of the ribbon, binding the herb, I push a looped knot through that hole.  I fold the top of the bag over, several times, and utilize that ribbon loop to hang the plant. 

It's best to dry herbs somewhere warm, that receives good airflow.  A front porch or sunny room works nicely.  I used my back porch.  I attached the 3M hooks to my window frame (I love those hooks, they are great for everything) and looped the ribbon over it.

They will sit for around 2 weeks, or until completely dry.  Once dry, gently remove the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container.

After the harvest, I got a little excited, and carried away.  Thanks to a nice surprise, I was able to plant about 8 additional USDA Certified organic herbs. I've started them in reused containers (aren't I green?!?!) and estimate that we'll be able to plant them outside within a few weeks, having at least one or two harvests before our first cold snap (love living in Texas!). 

One more, small step towards healthier, all organic eating...!