Drying Herbs

As is pretty normal for this time of year, things have gone from a walk to a brisk trot in nature.   This last month I have been busy working plenty of craft fairs (not a good idea for herbalists – I’ve not broken even on a single one thus far and won’t be booking any more!)   Outside, the Ground Ivy and White Archangel are flowering and ready for picking, and there are bunches of both festooning my cottage.   As soon as the rain stops, I shall be out picking further bunches to dry to keep me ticking over during the summer.  There’ll be another harvest of White Archangel (Lamium album) in the early autumn, providing further opportunities to gather this useful plant.   I’m drying some of the flowers separately from the rest of the plant.   I’m rather tempted to dry some Shephard’s Purse as well but suspect that it won’t make very good medicine that way.   Fresh plant tincture is best, I think – and even then it can’t really be kept for more than a year as it loses its efficacy after this time.   The Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea), a perennial favourite of mine, has made gorgeous purple carpets in the fields and hedgerows near where I live, and is a truly beautiful sight, well worth gathering if you have problems with a weakened respiratory system or digestive tract, as it has a gentle tonic effect.

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

This lovely scented plant is best picked with long stems and hung in small bunches to dry – I’ve currently got about eight bunches of it hung up, with room for easily another ten!  As it dries, it gives off the same gentle perfume as when freshly picked, and the undersides to the leaves gain a steadily more pronounced purple colouring.   My bunches of this herb were picked just about a week ago and are steadily drying out in a shady room with a good through draught.

Drying Ground Ivy

I suspect this little lot will be at least another two weeks to dry, after which I shall strip the leaves and flowers off the stem and store them either in a large paper bag or in a sealed glass jar, in a cool, shady room.

The Liquorice seeds which were germinating earlier this year have unfortunately all damped off – I suspected that they might, but it is still a source of some disappointment.   The patio outside my back door is currently covered with trays of herb seeds, though, and I have high hopes for a good selection of herb plants to trade and sell later on in the year.   I love this time of year, for all that I find myself living at a flat out run, just to keep up with things!

2 thoughts on “Drying Herbs

  1. The ground ivy was glorious at the farm this weekend. I made a flower essence from the flowers. Not sure what it is good for, but I felt drawn to make the essence! I’ve always called lamium album white deadnettle, but noticed the Americans were calling it white archangel – where did you pick the name up from or it is the common name for your part of the world? The bees were all over it.

    1. I must admit that I think I stumbled across the name white archangel in one of my old herb books.. it might have been Culpeper but I can’t really recall which one! I just don’t like calling such a pretty plant ‘deadnettle’ – it just feels rather insulting, somehow… maybe its just another of my many eccentricities coming to the fore? I shall be making flower tinctures tomorrow – planning to make ground ivy, white archangel and hawthorn flower tinctures, provided the weather is good!

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