Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Harvesting lavender

July 19, 2009

Lavender ready for harvest in the Occitanian kitchen garden, Debra Solomon,

It’s been made clear to me that I’m doing this lavender harvesting-thing entirely too late in the season, and that if I had harvested it 2-3 weeks ago it would have been much, much more potent. But it is only now that I have the time and inclination to collect the stuff. Upon my return to the Occitanian kitchen garden I am ecstatic to find the bushes bent from the weight of fat-blossomed stalks, all loudly a’buzz with what appears to be an entire hive of REAL bees. No look-alike species and inadvertent pollinators here. I pause for a nano second to feel guilty before cutting away the flowers. May this act encourage the bees to enjoy my calabash, pumpkin, butternut, luffah and zillion other pollen laden flowers that are blooming all around, though surely the lavender would have made someone’s honey taste amazing.

Lavender ready for harvest in the Occitanian kitchen garden, Debra Solomon,

After cutting the lavender off 4 plants, my basket is bulgingly brimming, slung over my shoulder it’s so heavy that it makes for an uncomfortable ride back. I spread the stalks out on a table cloth to dry, and the next day they are ready to turn. Thanks to yesterday’s wind, today the flowers are dry enough to pluck from the stem. I wonder if there is a word for this activity, because it’s taking lots of time. (In Dutch I would call it rissen, like what one does with currants.) There is a high pain-in-the-ass factor but every time I walk back into the room where the lavender lays drying, I ‘do’ a few bunches, and now it appears that I’ve inadvertently done half. This doesn’t stop me wondering whether this work would better suited to nuns and virgins. As drudgery goes, this is pleasantly meditative work, but drudgery it remains.

Lavender harvest, Debra Solomon,

I urge myself forward only because I know some underwear and linens and a closet full of woolens that will be pleased with my efforts, once I get these fiddly buds into piddly muslin pillows. Think I’ll make a pillow for my cranky self as well. In the mean time, my hands have never smelled better though my nose hurts, in fact the fragrance is so strong that it’s giving me a massive headache. Weird consolation for a late harvest.

Lavender harvest, Debra Solomon,
Lavender harvest, Debra Solomon,
lavender harvest, Debra Solomon,
1 kilo lavender bud. Street value; 12 euros. Personal value; priceless.

debra at 18:32 | | post to


  1. I’ve done this as well, last year when I visited Kristi. It’s a lot of work, but the resulting smells are all worth it. Plus you can do it in the shade when it is close to 40 Celsius with Rose.

    Comment by Paul — July 23, 2009 @ 13:21

  2. mmmmmerveilleux!!!

    Comment by Marlein — July 27, 2009 @ 22:09

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