Monday, 18 August 2008
A problem harvest.
I have finally morphed into a true Brit endlessly looking out of the window, sighing at the rain, clicking my tongue as I shake my head with a melancholy air. Oh I am a true delight to be around I can assure you. I switch from sighing to whining...loudly. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but we have had so much rain here.....right, enough; I will stop and get a grip before I drive any poor souls who may have ventured this far away. On to other things.
Ok, this does involve a rain-filled discussion, but bear with me. Cornwall is renowned for being slightly ahead of the rest of the country in the plant stakes - it is the mild climate you see, the same one that brings much rain, and usually I start harvesting herbs for drying from July onwards. This year has been tricky, more than tricky, as I have patiently waited for the lavender to flower, the oregano and sweet marjorams to bloom, the myriad other herbs strewn around our increasingly wild and windswept garden to blossom so that I can begin one of my favourite tasks of cutting them. The eventual aim is for them to be used in various mixes in such things as these Sweet Dreams hearts....
or these embroidered sachets...
or even this Babbit filled with soothing lavender and chamomile...
Needless to say, the harvest has been poor - slow to reach that perfect point of flower with the wet weather and high humidity rotting much of the potential harvest in the meantime. I always pick my flowers in the late morning where possible, the reason being quite simple in that too late in the day runs the risk of the powerful essential oils having evaporated and too early could mean they are damp from the dew, thus running the possibility of botrytis (grey mould) developing in the drying process. On the one of about three days which were not rain drenched this holiday I finally decided to cut them and be hanged, hoping that the meagre harvest would be dry enough and not overblown, but not prepared to wait any longer.
(lavender & chamomile sachets)
My hope is that by cutting them back I will at least ensure a subsequent late flowering as in other years. If nothing else, the plants no longer look at miserable with that awful shattered appearance that torrential rain causes. I do feel rather as though I have started putting the garden to bed for the year though. Hey ho, perhaps the sun will come out tomorrow...sing along now!
Bye for now,