Are you interested in beginning your own homestead herbal garden? Have you always wanted to try your hand at raising different herbs? What would you need in order to get your homestead herbal garden going? When do you harvest plants from your homestead herbal garden? How do you dry plant matter from your homestead herbal garden? Having a homestead herbal garden at your disposal will allow you to add a few tasty spices to the meals you are preparing. Your homestead herbal garden might also include plants with medicinal qualities. In this post we are going to discuss when to harvest and how to dry the herbs from your garden. What you grow and how you grow it is up to you. Aquaponics systems are the newest method of growing a garden while raising fresh fish, so this may be a unique homestead herbal garden configuration for you to consider. Dried herbs have about a 1 year shelf life and often have an increased potency when compared to their freshly plucked counterparts.
“Harvesting times vary by herb species and plant anatomy. When harvesting leaves, pick just as the plant begins to form buds because their oils will be at their highest levels. If you are harvesting flowers, such as chamomile, harvest them when they are newly opened.”
When you select plants to put into your homestead herbal garden read the directions included on the seed package or container to determine recommended seasonal harvesting times. Remember that these seasons may be altered due to the growing method you use. If you are growing your homestead herbal garden outside the seasons will follow nature. For hydroponics and aquaponics systems the seasons will be manipulated by the growing style you employ.
“The idea of hang drying your herbs can conjure images of bunches of Italian herbs hanging from wooden rafters of villas in the Old Country. However, you probably shouldn’t hang your herbs in the kitchen because they will absorb all the odors and debris that come with cooking and it will diminish the quality of the herbs. Tie herb springs into bunches of 10 and find a dry, out-of-the-way room with good air circulation and indirect sunlight in which to hang the herbs. Keep an eye on them to ensure they are losing moisture and not growing mildew. In one to two weeks, they should be ready to be stored. Herbs are finished drying when the leaves break off easily. If they are over-dried they will turn to dust when crumbled and will have lost their potency.”
Using the hang drying method is an easy process and accommodates a frugal self-reliant lifestyle by eliminating the need to use on grid energy resources and appliances to complete the process. For those that are pressed for time the oven drying method explained below may be used to cure plants from your homestead herbal garden.
“This method of herb drying is undeniably the fastest, but it requires the most attention. You need to be careful that you don’t over-dry the herbs because it will make them less potent. Some herbs, such as sage, will also catch on fire easily and may not be suitable for this method of drying. Pluck the leaves or flowers off their stems and place them on a tray. The oven should be heated between 350 and 400 degrees. Herbs should be dried in about five to ten minutes and will be brittle. If the herbs aren’t freshly picked, reduce the heat by 100 degrees.”
There it is folks, two simple remedies for drying herbs harvested from your very own homestead herbal garden. Over drying compromises potency so make sure you take the time to keep an eye on your herbs and cure them properly. Enjoy your homestead herbal gardening experience!