The Herbal Artist: When and How to Harvest Herbs from Garden

| 4/18/2012 10:32:57 AM

Poppy Swap HeadshotKiki Geary is the founder of Poppy Swap, an online marketplace that offers an amazing selection of handmade products from herbalists all over the country. If you love your local farmers' market, Poppy Swap is for you!  

All parts of a plant can be used for medicinal preparations, but roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds all have different periods of maturation. So you can’t go picking flowers and assume that you can just grab the root and stem at the same time and get what you are looking for! Not only may the quality of the other parts be poorly formed but the content level of the effective properties you need for a plant’s medicine may vary at different phases of growth. So, collecting the individual parts at the proper time will have a very important impact on the therapeutic results. Here is brief overview of when to harvest herbs:

1. Tree and Root Barks

Collect tree barks in the late spring or early summer when the plants contain luxurious and ample sap. Barks collected at this time contain more nutrients and can be easily peeled off from the woody parts. If you are going for the bark below ground or the bark on the root of a plant, the best time for collection is autumn.

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2. Flowers

Flowers are at their peak when they are in buds or are just beginning to bloom. You will avoid any loss of fragrance or loss of petals if you catch them in this moment of their glory! It’s always best to collect the flowers in the early afternoon on a wind-free and bright day. They will be less damaged and can be dried in the sun or by air-drying when you get them home.

Photo courtesy Poppy Swap