Learn

Growing Lavender

How to grow lavender……

Somerset_Farm_Photos-08

Lavender requires 8 full hours per day of sun and well-drained soil. A 50/50 mix of sandy loam and gravel or decomposed granite is preferred. The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5. Space plants 2 to 3 feet apart for good air circulation. This is particularly important in areas of extreme heat and high humidity.

In warmer climates, it is best to plant in the fall, but you can also plant in early spring. In areas with temperatures regularly below freezing during the winter, planting must occur in spring. After planting, a product called “Garrett’s Juice” can be used to stimulate and strengthen the root system. Spray new plantings one time per week for 4-6 weeks.

If using an irrigation system, “drip” irrigation is best to conserve water. Overhead irrigation may increase the risk of disease problems in plants due to excess moisture.

In climates with high humidity, trim the branches that are close to the ground as well as thin out the center of the plant. This will help prevent a fungal disease that lavender is susceptible to. In the first year of growth, trim first flower buds which helps to strengthen and establish the root system. Pruning is recommended in the fall. Remove one-third of the plant bushes, but do not exceed one-half of the plant.

Generally, lavender does not require fertilization. Bone meal can be used if desired but do not over-fertilize. Check soil periodically to keep pH level at 6.5. If necessary, add lime to soil to keep pH at this level.

Weed control is important for healthy plants. Weed barrier can be used. Also, white or light colored pebbles/small rocks can be scattered around base of plant to reflect sun into plant to keep moisture from center of plant.

Enjoy the beautiful scent!

 

Recipes

Lavender ShortbreadSomerset_Lavender_Photos-June2015-09
Ingredients:
1 cup butter (room temperature)
¾ cup sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
1 ½ tbsp. ground lavender buds
2 ¾ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup coarse sugar (for decorating)

Directions:
Cream butter for one minute. Add sugar and mix for one minute. Add egg, mix until blended.
Use mini food processor or herb grinder to grind lavender buds. Add ground lavender buds to flour along with salt and baking powder. Wisk flour mixture briefly to blend and add to butter/sugar mixture.
Blend on low speed for about one minute, then move to medium speed and blend until dough is formed. Remove from bowl.
Divide dough into 4 round balls. Place dough on surface lightly dusted with flour. Roll back and forth to form four eight inch logs. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place logs in refrigerator to chill.
After one hour, removed logs from refrigerator, slice dough into ¼ inch pieces. Dip edges in coarse sugar. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or lightly browned.


Lavender Scones20150614_205151
Love this combination of lavender and lemon – from Somerset Farms Kitchens
Ingredients:
1 tbsp Dried Lavender buds
2/3 cup Milk
2 ½ cups Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
¼ lb Butter
1/3 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1-2 tbsp Cream or milk
1 ½ cups Confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp Dried Lavender Buds

Directions:
Pre-boil the 2/3 cup milk and 1 tbsp lavender buds. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 20-30 minutes. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the one stick of butter into the flour mixture. Once blended, gently stir in the 1/3 cup sugar and add the milk and lavender mixture.
Roll into a circle on a pastry board sprinkled lightly with flour. You may need to add a small amount of flour as dough will be sticky. Cut dough into triangles or circles.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
While baking, making the glaze for scones. Put confectioner’s sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, milk and lavender buds. Mix until blended. You want the glaze to be thin and runny. You may have to add additional cream or lemon juice.
Drizzle over scones and serve.

History of Lavender

 

The history of lavender…

Somerset_Lavender_Photos-June2015-04

Lavender has a long and winding history, touching on some of the most prominent settings and people in human history. From Cleopatra to early Romans, Queen Victoria to Jesus Christ, the name lavender has been spoken throughout the ages originating in Latin as “Lavandula officinalis,” with “lavare” meaning “to wash,” or “lavanda” meaning “to be washed.”

This translated into Roman households as they scented their baths with it, believing the lavender flower to have had soothing, tonic qualities, as well as being an effective insect repellant. Further, women used lavender in their cooking and men added it to smoking blends. They took it with them on the battlefield to dress war wounds because of its rapid healing and antiseptic qualities- which would later be repeated in WWI.

Greece, along with Rome, valued lavender for its many qualities and called it “nardus” or “nard” after the ancient city of Naarda. This is not surprising considering that lavender is native to the region, stretching to encompass the western Mediterranean, southern Africa and all the way to India in the East. During biblical times, lavender was being used as documented in the bible. It was mentioned by the name of “spikenard” or “nard” and mention of it can be found in the gospels as well as the Old Testament book: Song of Solomon.

Even Egyptians used lavender to produce soothing and healing ointments, perfume, and for mummification. Legend has it that Cleopatra anointed her body with lavender oil and used it to seduce Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony.

These countries could not keep lavender a secret for long and it quickly spread across Europe. During the Middle Ages when the English monastery gardens were planted with lavender and other medicinal herbs, the monks copied ancient manuscripts and recorded the medicinal effects of lavender. By 1536 Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and lavender became popular in the English domestic gardens as well as with the royalty. It was used to freshen the linens and the air, mixed with beeswax for furniture polish, and to repel insects. Queen Victoria created an explosion of interest in lavender in England. She loved it and insisted that all royal households use lavender for polishing the wood, making lavender soap for bathing and for the laundry. As the Queen did, so did many people in England. It is reported that Queen Elizabeth I used lavender tea to ease her migraine headaches and commanded that the royal table should never be without lavender conserve (English definition as a noun is “fruit with sugar”).

During the Black Death in London, people wore bunches of lavender on their wrists to repel fleas. This idea assimilated in France during the cholera epidemic and the Great Plague when traders stranded in Toulouse robbed from the local residents yet remained immune. When captured, the thieves were granted freedom in exchange for their recipe which included lavender and several other herbs.

Later in France during the 19th century, Rene Maurice Gattefosse made his name as the father of modern aroma therapy out of his love and work with essential oils. This French chemist received a severe burn on his hand and forearm while working in the lab and poured lavender essential oil on his arm out of desperation. His recovery was quick and confirmed for him what he already believed, that lavender essential oil contained antiviral and antibiotic properties.

Also during this time, in the western world of the United States and Canada, the Shakers were the first to grow lavender commercially. A group of English Quakers developed herb farms and produced their own herbs and medicines and sold them to the general public.

A well know English folk melody, “Lavender Blue” has long been sung by mothers to their babies and lovers to their beloved. More recently, in 1949, it was performed by Burl Ives in the movie “So Dear to My Heart,” and was Oscar nominated for best song.

So what makes this herb so special? Perhaps its lovely scent or its antiseptic and antibacterial qualities, or even its ability to repel insects and soothe ailments. Whatever the case, lavender has proven to be extraordinary throughout our history.

Compiled from a variety of public sources.