Thursday, October 21, 2010

Drying Lavender

I'm not much for decorative plants; one look at the petunias that I grudgingly put out each year will tell you that.  However, I am in love with lavender, a rather delicate perennial that, as it turns out, is pretty useful indeed.

Many people use lavender to cook with, but I really grow it for the fragrance.  I have plants out by the mailbox, where I can enjoy their scent every time I get the mail.  At the end of the season, I cut all of the long-stemmed flowers and bring them inside to lay on newspapers in a sunny south-facing window.  (I keep a few out for decoration in my foyer, as you see above.)

Once the lavender is dry, I strip the little flower buds off and keep them in a jar.  They are wonderful as potpourri; I love potpourri in my bathrooms, but I hate the neon-colored, shiny stuff you buy at the store.  I also mix lavender in with my rice to make spa wraps and bed warmers for those achy muscles and cold winter nights.

The Analysis

Fast:  This one takes almost no time at all.  Just enjoy your lavender while it grows, then spend a few minutes total preparing it for drying and stripping the flowers when dry.

Cheap:  As lavender is at least technically a perennial, the cost of the plants is spread over a few years.  Mulch the plants every year to give them the best chance of coming back in the spring.

Good:  Nothing smells better than lavender in a bed warmer (which we will talk about next time!).

Fall Thermostat Challenge Update

It's been a while since I updated you on my fall thermostat challenge.  We have been enjoying a few weeks of really moderate temps here in Ohio, and it has been easy to not run either the heat or the AC.  Only lately have the mornings started to be a little painful, as the daytime temps are not really sufficient to put the house heat "over the top" to handle the frosty nights.  However, the house is quite comfortable in the afternoons, and mornings are handled with some fleece socks, a cup of coffee, and a space heater in the office.  I've also been catching up on my baking and venting the drier inside.

Total savings since Labor Day:  663 hours, or 27.63 days without whole-house heat or AC!
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