wooly wednesday: wool & lavender

felt_tablescarf_sheepyhollow

image / hand made by sheepy hollow

lavender wool wash

DIY Lavender Wool Wash by Ivy Nest

moth sachets filled with herbs and cinnamon

DIY Modern Mothballs / Herbal Sachet here.

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Lavender project

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My patch of lavender got away from me [this year]. Again?? It seems like only yesterday, I did a M A J O R rejuvenation on this garden!!?? I haven’t been as committed as prior years [when I was young younger]; I would pick EACH and EVERY stem of lavender!!! NOTHING went to waste! ūüė¶

Recently, I have encouraged ‘You-Pick’ with the public which, in truth, has not been very successful.

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And so, rejuvenation of my lavender [Munstead and Hidcote] began, even this late in the season. It took me another three days to complete this task. My poor hands! I can hardly tweak or pull another weed in the garden(s). Next year, hopefully, we’ll have a bumper crop for pick’n!

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I tossed some trimmings over the fence into the sheep pen… they ate some and enjoyed the aromatherapy treatments! I think of it as ‘moth-proofing’ their wool fleece.

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I had one mighty ceremonial smudge fire… under a full moon, dancing wildly, naked!!! Oh what fun!!!

It’s [almost] lavender pick’n time at Sheepy Hollow!

Who doesn’t love the heady scent of lavender in the garden on a warm summer day??¬†Lavender (Lavandula) is such a romantic ‘flower’ that every gardener sooner or later succumbs to the urge to grow it!

A few helpful hints: Lavender is a native of the Mediterranean and a lover of dry, sunny, rocky habitats. ¬†As for which varieties I cultivate here in SE Michigan, I like ‚ÄėHidcote‚Äô and ‚ÄėMunstead‚Äô, two of the hardiest and best-loved lavender varieties. I also grow/grew ‘Grosso’ without much success… love those long stems!

Lavender plants will tolerate many growing conditions, but it thrives in warm, well-drained soil and full sun. Like many plants grown for their essential oils, a lean soil will encourage a higher concentration of oils.¬†Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant, once established.¬†It is dampness, more than cold, that is responsible for killing lavender plants. Dampness can come in the form of wet roots during the winter months or high humidity in the summer. If humidity is a problem, make sure you have –¬†plenty of space between your plants – ¬†for good air circulation and always plant lavender in a sunny location!

SPRING is the time to prune¬†lavender – after signs¬†of new green growth! If you live in an area where lavender suffers some winter die-back, plants may be cut-back by approximately one-third their height to keep them well-shaped. Also remove all dead woody stems. Don’t even think about pruning your plants late in the Fall! While lavender get regularly ‘pruned’ simply by harvesting the flower buds, cutting the blooms/buds typically yields a second – albeit smaller – second harvest. For more info ‘when’ to harvest lavender, go here.

Lavender makes an excellent companion plant and is also avoided by deer. The¬†lavender¬†flower buds¬†keep their fragrance when dried and used for ‘crafts‘. For best drying results, harvest the flowers as the buds first begin to open… after the morning dew has evaporated – and before the heat of the day! Hang in small bunches bound with rubber bands upside down or by arranging a thin layer on top of an old window screen in¬†a warm area with plenty of air circulation. Hint: A box fan may assist the drying process.¬†

Besides being beautiful and aromatic, lavender flower buds are also edible [Hint: A little in a recipe goes a long way!!]. They can be used raw in salads, added to soups and stews, used as a seasoning, baked into cookies and brewed into tea. Remember, use 1/3 dried herb versus ‘fresh’ herb amount called-for in a recipe… or, to taste!

I hope this post encourages you to add a lavender plant or two in your garden!

goat kids are introduced to lavender…

I’ve been working in the garden(s) the past couple of days [and have the blisters to prove it]. Lots and lots of ‘volunteer’ lavender seedlings/plants happily growing in the footpaths! I hate to pull-up and discard [compost] lavender. So, on a cool-ish,¬†cloudy day, I tenderly removed and offered ‘free’ bare-root transplants for anyone willing to adopt and pick-up a few [three dozen] lavender plants. They’re mostly hidcote and munstead variety.

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These are the freebies! I ‘offered’ them up to a good gardening home on fb and had a taker within minutes! ūüėÄ

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I have RECLAIMED the footpath in my rose garden! HOORAY! …and not one lavender plant was ‘wasted’.

I moved on to another lavender garden [our lavender bloom is late this year] to weed, trim and transplant a few more lavender volunteers!

Here’s what I did with the lavender trimmings!

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I tossed the ‘trimmings’ into the baby goat kids’ pen!

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A crowd soon formed: ‘What is this stuff?’ they inquired.

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They inspected it closely…

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…and began to rub their heads into the heady-smelling plant!

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It smells so good…they considered taking a nap in it!

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YIPPI! Goats love lavender too!!! Have a great weekend!!!

[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???

farm fresh cheesecake + strawberries

When you have a surplus of fresh goat’s milk… make cheese for…

… a ‘traditional’ cheesecake, and

…serve with just-picked strawberries from the garden!

How-To: ‘Modified’ traditional cheesecake recipe {made with my goat cheese}:

First, make a graham-cracker crust: 2-cups cracker crumbs, 1/4-cup sugar, 1/2-cup melted butter; press crumbs into bottom of 10-inch spring-pan. Refrigerate.

Filling: Cream 16-oz. chevre goat cheese and about 15-oz. ricotta (made from 1-gal goat’s milk). Gradually add 1-1/2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2-teaspoon salt. Add 6-egg yolks (one at a time) saving egg whites. (You can add lemon zest if desired.) Blend in 1/3-cup flour. Beat egg whites until stiff, not dry, and fold into cheese mixture. Pour into pan and bake at 350 degree F for about 1-hour and 15 minutes. Cool; chill thoroughly before serving.

While it’s baking in the oven, stitch-up a few sachets from fabric ‘scraps’, stencil with numbers (just because??) and fill with lovely ¬†lavender!

A sweet gift for a friend!

Happy Day!