Foraging On the Farm: Lavender

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My teenage son does yard work for a woman in town once a week. When I pulled up to drop him off last week, she was outside picking from the abundance of lavender that she grows in her front yard. She walked up to the car to greet me with a grocery sack full of budding stems and asked if I wanted some. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! After sharing half of it with a friend (and still having A LOT!!), I was ready to put this newly found bounty to good use!

Lavender grows wild primarily in Mediterranean countries in Western Europe. Here in the mountains of Eastern Oregon, we have to plant ours. With 48 different varieties of lavender, there’s one that can be planted and grown in nearly every region in the United States.

Lavender is one of the most widely used herbs I’ve ever encountered. It is calming, healing and antiseptic. It repels insects and even kills lice! Who knew!? It’s used in potpourri, teas and baking as well as salves and tinctures! Lavender is definitely worth the effort to grow in your backyard.

Here are four different ways I am using my lavender windfall:

Lavender Bath Salts

Epsom salt baths at our house are a must. It is a staple on our Master Grocery List. Having a kiddo with special needs, Epsom salt baths have proven to have a calming and detoxifying effect on him whenever life is getting too rough. Adding calming lavender to the bath is an added benefit! I mix this in a bowl with a 4:1 ratio. Four parts Epsom salt to every one part of fresh/dried lavender. It’s the perfect combination. Add about 1/3 Cup of the mixture to your bath and soak for at least 20 minutes for a full detoxifying effect.

Hand Sanitizer

A long time ago a friend introduced me to using pocket sized spray bottles for a naturally made hand sanitizer. Lavender has antiseptic properties and is a natural addition to this little bottle that I carry in my handbag. The best results are going to come from infusing the alcohol/water with the fresh or dried lavender for a week ahead of time. For every one cup of liquid, add 1/4 cup or more of lavender and let sit in a dark place for a week.

Lavender Infused Hand Sanitizer

2 Tbsp Lavender Infused Vodka

7 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil

Distilled Water

Add the vodka and lemon essential oil to a 2-ounce glass spray bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Shake before using.

Sachet Bags

This was such a fun and easy project that would make a really great gift, honestly. Seriously, you can sew these little bags in no time at all, or you can buy them inexpensively off Amazon. I mean, like 100 bags for just over $15 type inexpensive! Fill the bag with as much lavender as you want (I choose about 2/3 full), pull the drawstring and toss into your lingerie drawer. So pretty!

Healing Lavender Salve

Lavender is touted as a healing herb, one that helps with headaches, burns, anxiety and infections. It seems reasonable to me to put it into a salve and add it to my medicine closet. I mentioned before in my “Foraging on the Farm: Yarrow” post that there are a few different ways you could infuse oil with an herb. Check it out to decide which way you prefer. I chose this time to slowly infuse the oil with the lavender on a low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Remember, oil is HIGHLY flammable and MUST be watched at ALL TIMES if you choose this method.

1 Cup Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup Lavender

1/4 Cup (more or less) Beeswax

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan on low heat until the beeswax is melted, and the oil is sufficiently infused (about 1-2 hours) watching the pot at all times. Do NOT allow to boil OR simmer. The goal is to heat the mixture slowly to allow the herb to infuse. Remove from heat and pour into a clean jar and allow to cool. Cover with a lid. Store in a dark cupboard.

Tell me about the creative ways you’ve used lavender! Do you like it in teas? Do you bake with it? Do you have any great stories about how it helped heal a wound? I would love to learn from you!

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