[a method – or – sheer madness…?]

Over the years, I have devised a simple ‘method’ for the tedious task of garbling my farm-raised lavender. GARBLING is the term used for picking the flowers and leaves from the stems of plants, in order to store them properly for later use.

First, pick the lavender after the morning dew has burned off – hopefully NOT in +90 degree F extreme heat/weather!

Pick lavender when the buds begin to swell and perhaps with one or two visible flowers. Remember, when you pick the ‘flowers’, it’s similar to dead-heading: you’ll encourage new blooms and perhaps another smaller lavender crop in fall.

Next, I have been using found and recycled old door/window screens, ensuring good air-circulation, to air-dry my lavender. But, you may also hang-dry small bundles of lavender secured with rubber bands. Don’t make the bundles too large – or the lavender may mold! Use rubber bands to secure because ‘dried’ herbs shrink and you’ll be picking it up off the floor! Dry in a shaded area, out of direct sunlight and somewhere with good air circulation – run a small fan if necessary to bolster air-flow.

Once the lavender is DRIED ( for long-term storage/use ), I assemble, rather stack, three frames of ‘hardware cloth’ over an old bed sheet or storage container.

Neatly arranged lavender makes ‘garbling’ more manageable!

To begin, grab a handful of lavender, stems and buds all aligned in same direction. Gently rub, knead bundle over wire mesh, keeping stems perpendicular to screen. The buds should fall through the screens while the stems remain. Errant stems will be ‘caught’ by one of the screens to be discarded… at least, in theory!

…and the final product, lavender buds.

Stems may be discarded or bundled and used for fragrant fire-starters ( also known as faggots ).

How do YOU ‘garble’ your herbs???

Word for the day…

GARBLING, TO GARBLE –

Garbling is the old-fashioned and technical term used by herbalists to denote the process of stripping dried herb leaves from their stems, removing the ‘impurities’ such as twigs and stems, yellowed and decayed leaves, fauna, etc. to prepare them for storage and/or use.

The word garble has been around for a while—500 years in English and more in other languages. It was first applied not to communications but to trade goods. It was used to describe sorting the good from the bad.  For example, picking the husks out of a shipment of spices was called ‘garbling‘.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that it had different forms within Arabic and that this likely means it wasn’t originally from Arabic. Instead, it might be related to the Latin word for “sieve.”

This meaning was used in English also to apply to people, so that if you were going to decide on membership in a club you would ‘garble’ the applicants so that you would accept your favorites, but not allow people you didn’t like.

The word changed its meaning in English.  Originally sorting good from bad, it soon came to mean mixing bad in to fake more of the good. In other words, traders were evidently trying to pad their shipments.  This intentional contamination of commodities was what lead to the word being used to mean intentionally misrepresenting messages. From there a logical progression would seem to be that unclear messages were called by the same term, garbled, even when the loss of message clarity was unintentional.

Origin of GARBLE

Middle English garbelen, from Old Italian garbellare to sift, from Arabic gharbala, from Late Latin cribellare, from cribellum sieve; akin to Latin cernere to sift. First Known Use: 15th century