Common Name: Lavender
Botanical Name: Lavandula
Place of origin: Lavender is over 2,500 years old and is originally from the Mediterranean and mountain of western Europe. By the 16th century, travelers from across Europe spread the flower and its popularity grew. It was brought to the Americas by early settlers. Long before this however, lavender was used by Greeks and Egyptians, and is even mentioned in the Bible.
Ideal growing conditions: Lavender grows best in full sun and dry soil. Unlike many other plants, lavender prefers lower quality soil, so do not add any fertilizer when you plant it. Lavender is very tricky to grow from seeds, so start with a transplant. Depending on the climate you live in, the best time of year to plant it will change. In colder climates, plant your lavender in spring or early summer, but in hotter climates, you will want to plant your lavender in the fall. If you are planting multiple, be sure to space your plants 2-3 feet apart. Once it is planted, water it for the first few weeks to help it get established. Afterwards, you will only need to water it if the soil is completely dry. Otherwise avoid it because the roots will rot in if there is any standing water.
Parts of the Plant to use: The ideal time to harvest lavender is when the buds have formed but the flowers have not yet opened. To do so, you can cut bunches of it at a time. Cut the bunches with sheers, but leave 2-3 sets of leaves on the stems.
Benefits/Properties: For centuries, lavender has been known for its soothing and relaxing qualities. It has been used to treat hyperactivity, insomnia, headaches, toothaches, sore joints, and indigestion.
Suggested Uses: Lavender is truly a versatile herb and can be used in deserts, bath products and teas.
Culinary: Lavender is mainly used in the kitchen for desserts. My personal favorite culinary application for lavender is this Lavender Yogurt Cake. To try this refreshing dessert, follow this recipe: https://www.thefoodblog.net/lavender-yogurt-cake/#wprm-recipe-container-7569
Another fun dessert to try are this cookie recipe:
Finally, for a simpler treat, try making this refreshing Lavender Lemonade:
Medicinal: Of course, lavender is known for its aromatic and therapeutic uses and some of the most popular ways to enjoy these benefits are through soaps and bath products. A great way to use the lavender from your garden is to make Lavender Bath Salts. To do this you will need dried lavender, epsom salt, and extra lavender essential oils if you want. Fill a jar with all three, adding as much lavender as you like, and mix or shake it to combine. Once fully mixed you can add a ½ to a full cup of it to your bath water to help you decompress or relax. There are plenty of other ways to use your lavender in bath products and I would recommend exploring some of them here: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/10-things-to-make-with-lavender/
Another, arguably more direct way to receive the benefits of lavender is by making lavender tea. To do this, fill a tea strainer or reusable tea ball with fresh or dried lavender, and put it in a mug of boiling water. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes, and mix in honey if you wish.