Lavender is a useful herb and beautiful flower that can more than earn its keep in a polytunnel garden. This beautiful, fragrant herb will fill your polytunnel with its delightful scent and will not only be pleasant for you as a gardener but will also help to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to your undercover growing area. But lavender is not just to be admired when growing. Harvesting lavender will provide you with a yield that can be used in a wide range of different ways. To inspire you to make the most of your lavender harvest, here are 5 unique things to do with lavender that you have grown in your polytunnel:
Make Lavender Lemonade
You may not think of lavender as an edible crop, but it can in fact be used to add a unique flavour to a range of recipes. Lavender is a relative of mint, sage, marjoram and thyme and can be used in a similar way to each of these herbs. You can use it in salads, teas, jams and desserts, and also to make delicious drinks – like a lavender lemonade. Adding lavender to lemons and honey can allow you to make a deliciously refreshing drink for hot summer days.
Make a Lavender Bath Bomb
Lavender’s scent means that it is perfect for use in a wide range of home-made toiletries and cosmetics. One lovely way to make the most of lavender’s lovely smell and soothing properties is to make some bath bombs for a relaxing soak. Add lavender to a mix of citric acid, baking soda and a small amount of almond oil to make luxurious bath bombs. You can use fresh or dried lavender or, for a stronger lavender fragrance, a few drops of lavender essential oil. (With the right equipment, essential oils can be distilled at home using home-grown plants).
Make Lavender Infused Oil
One simple way to bottle lavender fragrance for later is to make a lavender infused oil. To make this, dry lavender and place dried flower heads in a jar. Cover these with a gentle plant-based oil such as sweet almond oil and then leave the jar in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. Strain the mix and you will be left with a moisturising oil that smells of lavender.
Make Lavender Salve
To make a soothing salve which is perfect for relaxation and for use on itchy insect bites, simply mix an infused oil, as described above, with beeswax or candelilla wax by gently heating them together in a heatproof container in a pan of water. This home-made salve will last for around 9 months to a year.
Make Lavender Vinegar
A lavender infused vinegar can be used in your haircare regime. Vinegar is a fantastic hair conditioner. Adding some lavender flowers to vinegar can give it a pleasant fragrance which will linger on your hair after the vinegar smell has long gone. Lavender infused vinegar can also be used for cleaning windows and for other cleaning jobs around your home.
How do you use lavender? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.