I thought Lavender would be the perfect next topic of discussing following on from our Sunflower tips and tricks post. Lavender is such a beautiful herb that many people select for their gardens, you can occasionally find it growing wild too! Todays focus will be facts and benefits of the Lavandula Angustifolia plant.
Photography by Miss Dorman at Hitchin Lavender Farm, Hertfordshire Aug 2019.
Lavender has many benefits for wildlife, especially pollinators. It is one of the best plants to grow for attracting bees. It’s flowers attract hummingbirds and many species of butterflies including painted ladies, woodland skippers and tiger swallowtails, all three of which are urban species.
Its colouring makes it a beautiful plant for borders while also repelling wild Deer and Rabbit (Although that’s not really a problem we tend to have here in London!!!).
I decided to select the Lavender plant for our next growing topic is because the fragrance from the flower and oils produced are believed to help promote calmness and wellness.
It is therefore, commonly used in aromatherapy to make medicine to tackle anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It is also sometimes used to help sooth certain symptoms for depression, dementia, pain after surgery, and many other conditions.
Preserving your Lavender for use at home:
Fresh, cut lavender bunches can be put in a vase of water for 2-3 days. They will last up to 10 days in water, but if you want to dry the bunches, remove from water after 3 days.
Steps to drying your lavender:
Cut off brown parts of the stem and hang to dry.
Tie the stems together with a rubber band and hang them in a fairly dark room with dry, moving air.
Sun will fade the colour and moisture will spoil the flowers. This process will take about 10 days to two weeks. As the bunches dry, the blossoms will drop onto the floor.
A brown paper bag can be tied around the flowers to prevent the buds from dropping onto the floor.
After you have dried the flowers, you can strip the lavender off the stem, store in a muslin bag for fragrance. These sachets will last for years. Squeeze them from time to time and more Lavender scent will be released.
The Oils can be used to make essential oils, in creams, soaps, syrups and drinks. the photo on the left shows some Lavender products available for purchase at the Lavender field.
Urban Cultivator Updates!
As mentioned in the bulletin last week as well as our last growing post having received a grant provided by Savoy Educational Trust (another huge thank you to Deborah Loades) we were able to purchase a new bit of kit. After just two weeks of setting up and planting into our Urban Cultivator progress has been made!
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are approximately 2.5–7.5 cm tall. They have an aromatic flavour and concentrated nutrient content and come in a variety of colours and textures. Microgreens are considered baby plants, falling somewhere between a sprout and baby green.
We currently have a variety of Microgreens growing;
Wheatgrass: High in Nutrients and Antioxidants. May Reduce Cholesterol. Great for aiding the body in getting rid of impurities and stored toxins. May aid in good digestion, leading to reduced bloating, gas, and stomach upset.
Spicy Radish Microgreens: Radish microgreens contain a high concentration of Vitamin B3, Vit.B6, Vit. C, Folate, and traces of Manganese. They are also abundant in Vit A, K, and E, iron, potassium, phosphorus, beta carotenes, calcium, magnesium, pantothenic acid and zinc.
Split Peas: In fact, taking a small cup of split peas in your daily diet can provide approximately 65% of the daily recommended value of fibre in your diet. The high fibre content of split peas helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Basil Microgreens: You can eat these in the same way as you would normally eat basil, as a garnish on food, in a salad, with your sandwich, or even as a snack by itself. Research shows that basil microgreens contain as much as 4-5 times the nutrients that mature basil does!
Next Mondays post will be looking at keeping your garden insects thriving plus your usual weekly update on the departments growing!