Harvesting Herbs…

I enjoy harvesting herbs from my garden & using them to make homemade tea & such as well.  Some can be added to coffee also.  I started with peppermint a couple years ago & added chamomile to the list of herbs I want to grow this year…  I found this article particularly interesting.  I grew chamomile this spring & seeded some more later this summer.  My plants are small right now; but I should get a fall crop as well if all goes well.


How and When to Harvest Chamomile

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This spring, I planted a tea garden – herbs, flowers and plants I can harvest to make homemade herbal tea blends.  The lemon and lime balm and some of the mints have already been harvested.  This week, it’s time to harvest the German Chamomile.

german chamomile

My mom would always make us a cup of chamomile tea if we had a mild fever, upset stomach or needed to get some rest.  To this day, I associate that smell with soothing and comforting and it’s a tradition that I’ve carried on with my kids.  Now, however, I’m using homegrown chamomile which makes me ridiculously happy!

Unlike many other herbs, when harvesting chamomile, it is the blossom you want to collect, not the stems, leaves or roots.  In fact, it is best harvested when the blossom is open to its fullest, just before the tiny white petals begin to droop backwards (although you can certainly still use blossoms that are a bit premature or droopy).

chamomile flowers

When picking the flowers, use your fingers as a comb to get just the flower head, as shown here.  Then simply pluck the flower head off the stem.

picking chamomile flowers

Gather all the blossoms you can.

Shake them out and look them over to remove any insects or dirt that may be on the flower heads.

drying chamomile

Spread out the flowers in a single layer and allow them to dry for 1 to 2 weeks in a dark, warm, dry space.  If you have a dehydrator, you can also dry them on a lined dehydrator tray. To prevent them from blowing off the tray, place a mesh liner on top of the chamomile flowers.  Set the dehydrator on it’s lowest setting (95°F or 35°C) and dry for 12 to 18 hours. Delicate herbs and flowers should always be dehydrated at the lowest settings for optimum results.

Once the flowers are thoroughly dried and cooled, store in a well sealed glass jar for up to 6 months.  You can still use the flowers after that point, but the flavor will become less intense.

To make a cup of tea, place 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile in a tea strainer.  Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 2 minutes.


Stewart, Getty.  “How & When to Harvest Chamomile”.  Posted 06/30/2014. Viewed 10/03/2016.  http://www.gettystewart.com/how-and-when-to-harvest-chamomile/

Gardening in October – Prepare for Wintertime!


“GARDEN (Flowers, vegetables and small fruits)

Harvest root crops and store in a cold (32 F), humid location. Storing produce in perforated plastic bags is a convenient, easy way to increase humidity.

Harvest Brussels sprouts as they develop in the axils of the leaves from the bottom of the stem. Brussels sprouts will continue to develop up the stem.

Harvest pumpkins and winter squash before frost, but when rind is hard and fully colored. Store in a cool location until ready to use.

Harvest gourds when stems begin to brown and dry. Cure at 70-80 F for two to four weeks.

Harvest mature, green tomatoes before frost and ripen indoors in the dark. Warmer temperatures lead to faster ripening.

Asparagus top growth should not be removed until foliage yellows. Let foliage stand over winter to collect snow for insulation and moisture.

Remove plant debris from the garden to protect next year’s plantings from insect and disease buildup. Compost plant refuse by alternating layers of soil, plant material, and manure or commercial fertilizer.

Have garden soil tested for fertilizer needs every three to five years.

Plowing and incorporating organic matter in fall avoids the rush of garden activities and waterlogged soil in spring. Soils prepared in the fall tend to warm faster and allow earlier planting in spring.

Carve a Halloween jack-o’-lantern.

Dig tender garden flower bulbs for winter storage. Gladiolus corms should be dug when leaves begin turning yellow. Caladiums, geraniums and tuberous begonias should be lifted before killing frost. Dig canna and dahlia roots after a heavy frost. Allow to air dry, then pack in dry peat moss or vermiculite, and store in a cool location.

Complete planting of spring-flowering bulbs.”

I like to leave my plants out as far into the fall as I can.  When an early frost is expected, it is possible to cover your tomato plants during the night/during the day when an unusually early frost is expected.  This way the plants can produce tomatoes later into the fall.  Carrots & lettuce also like the cold & will thrive; it’s very possible to get a small bumper crop.  Spinach is another crop which does very well in the fall/winter.