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The information provided on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Should you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering any natural remedy.

The Joy of Harvest

For most home gardeners, this is the time of year we start to think about harvesting the plants that we have so lovingly cared for all summer. Timing is a key part of achieving the maximum quality of the plant, and harvest times vary depending on the part that you wish to use. As a general guideline, you want to gather the plants when they are at the peak of potency or are fully ripe. For example:

  • Flowers are usually best harvested just before the full bloom and in the mid or late morning following evaporation of the dew
  • Seeds should be gathered when they are dry and ripe, but before they fall from the plant on their own
  • Roots can be gathered in the late fall or early spring in either the early morning or late afternoon
  • Leaves should be gathered when they are tender and the plant is beginning to show new fall growth

Harvesting plants during periods of heavy rainfall or drought does not provide good conditions for harvest. Plants will soak up excess moisture, so if there has been heavy rainfall, try to wait at least a day or two before harvesting. As well, during drought conditions, when the plants are stressed, harvest should be avoided.

In either condition, the plants will not be as potent and therefore less effective than they would be had they been gathered at a more appropriate time.

Keeping plants potent once they are harvested is another matter. Air, heat, light, moisture and reactive metals such as tin and aluminum all detract from the vitality of the plant. It is best to store your herbs in a cool, dark, well ventilated area such as a cellar, pantry or kitchen cabinet - not the one over the stove as the steam and heat from cooking will harm the herbs as well.

When properly harvested and stored, our summer pleasures can bring us joy all year round. Enjoy!

Harvest Tip: Did your bergamot, rosemary, sage or thyme get a little out of control this summer? Think you'll have some left over? Try this recipe for a fragrant disinfectant:

Place a good handful of bergamot, rosemary, sage or thyme in a pot and add just enough water to cover the herbs. Simmer for about a half an hour and strain. The liquid can be stored in containers and used to clean sinks, toilets, and other nasty areas that might be in need of a little fragrant disinfecting!


Relevant Links:
Article - Summer Pleasures


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