Hi dear readers – this is the first of a series of segments that I will thread through my garden and chicken posts, talking about putting the many things that pop up in your garden to USE in your home. After all, how do you know what you want to grow if you don’t have an idea what you would use it for? And so much knowledge of how to use plants (and weeds!) has been lost, in the era of the supermarket. Today’s subject is DRYER SHEETS or more accurately, giving your laundry a nice scent without buying any of those chemically scented thingys.
I have always felt that it can’t be that difficult to do-it-yourself dryer scent. And since I hate and therefore do not use chemical scents, yet am certainly wifty enough to leave the wet laundry sitting for too long, forgotten and accumulating nasty odors, my towels and sheets could really use some perfume help. So for years now I’ve been messing around with how to use homegrown lavender. I tried laying it between sheets or towels (pretty crumbly on re-entry). I tried different kinds of bags, which always seemed too small to have much impact on a load of wet stuff.
Plus it was difficult to fill the bags without making more mess, and awkward stuffing lavender into a sack. And the bags seemed to leak leaves. Lavender is a fine natural product, but that doesn’t mean your dryer likes it as much as you do. Since it was kind of a pain, I forgot to use it all.
My conclusion: this needs to be more simple, and more effective, to be worth doing. Until today.
Here is solution, result of my many messes:
Using an old sock, and tying the top, allows a lot of area for the lavender leaves to make contact with the tumbling damp laundry. Tying the top of the sock makes it pretty sure that the plant material will stay inside. And look how easy it is to fill it up! (I just figured this out this morning.) No mess!!
So, how do you get started? Plant lavender in a sunny location. In summer pick leaves and flowers. (They say pick early morning for greatest potency with all herbs)
DRYING lavender is easy peasy. You can simply hang it upside down, out of the sun, in nice dry weather. I throw mine in a dehydrator, since I live in wonderful moist Maryland (ps this is a GREAT product for gardeners, I highly recommend getting a dehydrator, particularly because it is much less scary than the pressure cooker canner (which I also got second hand, am terrified of, and have yet to use)). But if you don’t have a dehydrator, simply place the leaves on parchment, or a paper towel, on a baking sheet and put into the oven at it’s lowest setting (about 170 degrees). A convection oven is ideal, since the circulating air will help – you want to dry the lavender, not cook it. The idea is to preserve the essential oils in the plant. Once the oven is warm, you may even wish to just leave the oven light on. When the plant is crunchy dry, store it in a plastic bag, or a jar (and add some of those little “keep fresh” sacks left over from vitamin bottles etc to help keep the herb dry.)