Years ago, Sam gave me a cookbook for my birthday. A cookbook for cakes. We bookmarked all the recipes that we were going to try and one of them was a lavender cake. We went on a long and arduous search for fresh lavender to use in baking the cake then gave up.
Unable to source fresh lavender, we bought seeds instead. If we couldn’t buy lavender, we could grow it. Then, we lost the packet of seeds. To say it was annoying would be an understatement.
I have had it. At the time, at least. It would have been insane to fixate on one ingredient and lose interest in everything else out there. I forgot about the search for lavender eventually. Or, maybe, as a subconscious reaction to the frustration, I pushed everything lavender in the deepest recesses of my mind.
About two weeks ago, Speedy came home from food shopping with several large brown paper bags. He placed them on the kitchen island and, as is our habit, I took out the contents of the bags to determine where each should go—pantry, fridge or dining table? I got stumped, however, about where to place the content of the last brown bag. Where in the kitchen should I store a potted plant? I asked Speedy what it was and he excitedly replied that it was lavender. He had a large pot prepared already where he would transfer the small flowerless plant.
The lavender was replanted as Speedy planned. That’s how it looks in the photo above. Nothing pretty at this point. But, in a few months, we expect it to start blooming. Like this…
Lavender is Lavandula from the mint family, Lamiaceae
Lavender is native to regions in the temperate zone from the Mediterranean to Africa to Asia. It likes well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. It grows with very little maintenance. However, like mint, it can be invasive too. Lavender can grow wild; in some countries, it is considered a weed more than a herb.
Today, lavender is grown in other regions including parts of the United States and Australia. Commercially, it is cultivated primarily for the flowers from which aromatic essential oil is extracted. Lavender oil is used for making bath soap, candles, perfume, cosmetics and even insect repellent.
Is it smarter to grow lavender in a pot or directly on the ground?
Considering that lavender multiplies like weed, if planted directly on the ground, it can kill other (smaller and weaker) plants that stands in its growth’s way.
If planted in a pot, the soil might not drain as fast as the plant requires.
A fifty-fifty situation. I personally prefer planting lavender directly on the ground with enough space around it to grow and multiply. However, the area allotted to the lavender will have to be fenced to prevent it from encroaching on spaces reserved for other plants.
How is lavender used in cooking?
Lavender flowers can be eaten raw. They can go into a salad or sprinkled on cooked food.
The flowers may be steeped in hot water to make a tisane or added to tea leaves to make a floral tea.
The flowers can be dried, ground and mixed with sugar for use in cakes and ice cream, or to make a floral sugar syrup.
The green portions of the plant may be used like rosemary. Can you imagine a meat stew with floral undertones?
Lavender has health benefits too
If the scent and culinary uses of lavender don’t excite you, the idea of using lavender essential oil for health and wellbeing may make you decide that it’s worth growing lavender at home.
According to an article in the University of Maryland Medical Center website, lavender may help in treating hair loss, skin ailments and sleeping disorders.
Before summer is over, hopefully, we will be able to try that lavender cake recipe from the cookbook that Sam gave me years ago. And that’s just for starters. If our lavender plant proves generous with flowers, I’d love to use them on non-food projects too.