What to Do With a Lavender Harvest

If you have this aromatic purple plant in your garden, put it to good use.

dried lavender in individual brown paper sachets in wooden box

Treehugger / Autumn Wood

Lavender is one of my favorite plants and I have some along the sunnier fringes of my forest garden. The bees love it, and we do too. Today I thought I would share some of the things I do with a lavender harvest, in order to inspire you to make the most of this plant if you have some in your garden.

Learning how to use different plants that we grow in our gardens helps us to develop strategies and make practical items that can allow us to reduce our reliance on damaging systems. By using plants from my garden for a range of uses, I reduce consumption of store-bought items and live in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. 

Lavender is well known for its beauty, fragrance, and relaxing properties. There are, of course, many uses for this flowering herb around your home, but here are a few of my favorites.

Lavender and Rosemary Hair Rinse

One thing I do with my lavender each year is make a simple lavender and rosemary hair rinse. I have an all-natural care regime for my very long hair and have not used any commercial shampoos or conditioners for many years. This hair rinse is one of my favorites. I add sprigs of lavender and rosemary to a jar of water, leave it to steep overnight, strain it, add a little apple cider vinegar, then run it through my hair in the shower. You can experiment and find the right proportion of ingredients for your hair and your preferences. 

Lavender-Infused Oil

I am not equipped to make my own lavender essential oil, though it would be very useful and is something I hope to do in the future. But I do make a lavender-infused oil by adding lavender to almond oil. My main use for this fragrant infused oil is in a homemade honey-beeswax balm, which is great for chapped lips and dry hands in winter. With just four ingredients—beeswax, almond oil, lavender, and honey—I find this balm to be a great alternative to balms that you can buy.

Lavender Scrubs and Bath Bombs

I dry lavender and use the flower buds in a range of ways. For example, I use them along with some sea salt and a little of the infused oil mentioned above to make a body scrub. I also toss some buds into bath bombs made with citric acid, baking soda, and a few drops of lavender essential oil. (Sometimes I add other botanicals like rose petals, calendula blossoms, mint, or rosemary.)

Lavender Floral Displays and Wreaths

If you grow a lot of lavender in your garden, it is worth bringing some indoors so you can enjoy its scent and beauty in floral displays. I pop lavender in a simple vase arrangement alongside other flowers from my summer garden. Another thing to consider is that wreaths do not just have to be for Christmas; you could create a summer wreath with lavender alone, or with lavender and other garden plants. I sometimes take the wooden wreath base I use for Christmas and clad it with lavender and rosemary for a summertime display. 

Lavender Stem and Nettle Cord Basket

This year, I am trying something new for the first time. I am making a small basket for my home using lavender and long grass stems and a homemade cord made from stinging nettles. Usually we use only the lavender flower buds and discard the stems, but these could be useful, too. 

To make a rustic little basket, you soak the plant stems and make them into finger-width bundles. These bundles can then be coiled gently and sewed together with any type of cord. I enjoy using materials harvested from my own garden, so I am using a rustic nettle cord and a whittled applewood "needle" I made to join things together. 

I am by no means an expert in these crafts, but I enjoy experimenting with natural textiles and basketry. And as much as I love using lavender from my garden, I do always make sure that, after harvesting, there is still lots left for the bees and other wildlife with whom we share our space.