Mother Earth Living

In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Add to My MSN

Herbs & Children: Collecting and Drying Herbs for the Herbal Harvest

8/4/2011 3:31:04 PM

Tags: Lisa Kuhlman, Children, Herbs & Children, Gardening, Drying Herbs, Collecting Herbs, Harvesting Herbs

L.KuhlmanLisa is a writer, budding photographer and herb enthusiast. She enjoys poking around in the garden, creating in the kitchen and reading a good book (when she’s not answering the call of “Mom!” from her five children).  

Congratulations to the winners of the Herbal Roots Zine Giveaway! A. Donovan and Mikayla will each receive the July issue of Herbal Roots. Loridean has been selected as the lucky winner of an entire year's subscription. Enjoy!

The twins and I wandered outside the other day to survey the state of the herb garden together. It was humming with bees and naturally decorated with butterflies—delightful! After some discussion, we determined the herbs were ready for a mid-summer haircut. Each girl set to work with a pair of scissors and instructions to cut at about halfway down the plants.

8-4-11-butterfly 
Butterflies and bees are frequent visitors to herb gardens.
Photo by raymondgobis/Courtesy Flickr
 

As we cut, we put each herb in its own pile. Sometimes they would have to stop and inspect the plants before they added another handful, comparing the shape of the leaves or how the leaves were situated on the stems to be sure it was going to the right place. Every so often we took a break to have a tasting party and decide what kinds of things we might like to make with the herbs we were preparing to dry in our kitchen. 

After collecting the herbs, I assigned Claire and Olivia each several piles to divide into handfuls and secure the bunches with rubber bands. They had a little trouble at first, but after I explained it was much like putting a ponytail in their doll's hair, they caught right on and chattered though the hour just like ladies at a salon! 

Next, we added a paper clip hook to each bunch, opening the paper clip so it looks like an elongated “S” and hooking one end under the rubber band. Again, this took a couple of demonstrations, but they caught on and we had a nice collection of hangers in no time. 

8-4-11-paper-clip 
An opened paper clip attached to a rubberband is an easy way to hang herbs. 
Photo by Lisa Kuhlman 

My girls love to do crafts, so making labels from slips of paper for each bunch was turned into an artistic endeavor. They wrote out the labels (with a little spelling help from me) and then after taking a close look at the plants, proceeded to add tiny sketches that represented the herb. Since we weren't in a hurry, I let them embellish as much as they wished. Then we slipped the papers under one section of the rubber band on each bunch. 

8-4-11-kidHere is a list of the herbs we gathered this time:

• Lemon balm
• Lavender
• Oregano
• Dill
• Thyme
• Bee balm
• Comfrey
• Plantain
• Spearmint
• Chocolate mint
• Chamomile
• Catnip
• Rosemary
• Sage                                                                                                                                  

Make labels for each herb bunch. Photo by Lisa Kuhlman 

As you can see, this is a fairly diverse list. As we gathered each herb, it was an opportunity to talk about which parts we use, how they are used (cooking, tea, medicinally, etc.) and whether or not the plants will grow back (perennial, annual, biennial, etc.) I explained there were a few herbs, like basil, cilantro and parsely, that we didn't cut for drying this time because I prefer to use them fresh or frozen. We'll wait until later in the summer to dry or freeze them. 

Soon our bunches were ready to hang in the kitchen. In our kitchen, on a wall out of direct sunlight, I have strung a length of beading wire between two nails. We simply hang the bunches on the wire by the paperclip hooks and in a few weeks, they are ready to bring down and put into glass jars. Our kitchen always smells divine! (This line can double as an art gallery, too!)

When it was time to store our harvest, we took down all of one kind of herb at a time, rubbing the leaves off the stem and onto a large piece of paper. Then we picked up edges of the paper and slid the herbs right into a glass jar with a lid. Always be sure to add a label to the jar as soon as you are done with each herb. I can almost always tell the difference between the dried herbs by taste or scent, but plants like plantain and comfrey are very similar to each other in their dried form! Besides, having the kids create a label for even the most distinct herbs (like rosemary or lavender) is good reinforcement for learning about them.

As we worked, we dreamed about making our own herbal tea blends or perfume with floral waters (hydrosols) with the fresh herbs still growing in the garden. We wondered if the fairies that live in the fairy house tucked away to the side of the herb garden would like to collect and dry herbs as well.

It was agreed that they would. Collecting and drying herbs is great fun!



Related Content

Herbs & Children: Introducing Herbs to your Kids

Learn some simple tricks to introduce your children to herb gardening

Cook with Your Kids!

Here are some ingredients to make cooking with kids a tasty experience!

Building Fairy Gardens For Kids

One guest blogger loves building fairy houses for kids and with kids. She never ceases to be amazed ...

5 Fun Winter Activities to Get Kids Excited About the Garden

Get your children excited about helping with the garden this year with these five fun activities.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.