How To Harvest Verbena – Guide To Picking Verbena Leaves
The first thing to do when picking herbs or flowers is to make sure you have enough water. If not, you will get stuck with a bunch of weeds. You need to gather some fresh water from somewhere else (like a stream) so you don’t end up with nothing but weeds.
If you are going to use a knife, it needs to be sharpened. You can buy knives at any hardware store. I used a kitchen knife because it was easy to sharpen and didn’t require me to go out and buy one. For your own safety, always wear gloves while handling herbs or flowers!
They contain poisonous chemicals which could cause severe health problems if ingested.
When you are ready to harvest, start collecting the plants. Make sure they aren’t all clustered together or there might be too many weeds. You want them spread out over a wide area so that you can pick each plant individually.
You can also take advantage of the fact that most herbivores like to eat leaves and stems rather than whole plants. Look around for areas where they have trampled down grass or leaves. Make sure you only pick the top layer of grass or leaves since the rest will be trampled down. This makes it easier to spot the plants and you don’t have to pick through dung!
As you harvest, spread out what you pick on a tarp so you can take it home in bags later.
How To Dry Lemon Verbena
The first thing you want to do is cut the lemon verbena. You need to make sure you don’t pick all the leaves off of one branch since we need to let it regenerate so it can grow more leaves. Use a pair of clippers or scissors to cut the top 6 inches (15.2 cm) off of the plant, just above where the leaf starts to branch out.
You should have a handful of leaves after you are done.
Next you need to spread the leaves out on a tarp or something similar. We need to let the leaves dry out or we won’t be able to store them. You will most likely only harvest lemon verbena a few times a year so it is important that the leaves dry out so you can store them for later use.
Place the tarp in a warm and breezy spot. This will help dry out the leaves so they won’t mildew. If you don’t have anywhere like this then the next best thing is to leave them in the sun. It will just take a little longer for them to dry since the sun’s rays are not as strong as wind.
You DON’T want to dry them in the oven or use heat of any kind!
If you picked the leaves in the morning then they should be dry by nightfall. You can test one to be sure. Take one of the leaves and rub it between your fingers. It shouldn’t feel slimy and should crackle when bent.
If it passes both of these tests then it is dry enough to store.
You now need to remove the stems and rack the leaves so they are out of the way and you have easy access to them when you need them. After they dry, they can be stored for several months to a year if you keep them in a sealed jar or container in a cool and dry place. An old coffee can works really well for this purpose.
How To Dry Herbs
Wash the herbs and remove any dead or diseased leaves. Take your clippers and cut the stems as close to the base of the plant as you can without tearing the root system. You do not want to tear the root system because then it may not grow back and you will lose future harvests.
You now have a few options on how to dry the herbs. The best method is to hang the plants upside down in a cool, dry place. You can use a string or hanger and hang them from a rafter or something similar. Leave enough room between them that air can circulate around them.
You can also lay them out on a screen or wire rack to dry. Again, leave enough room for air to circulate.
Herbs will dry in 1 to 7 days, depending on the humidity of the air, the size of the plant and where you are drying them. A dehydrator will speed up the process, but it isn’t necessary. When the herbs are crisp and crumble when you crush them, they are ready to be stored.
You can also use your oven to dry the herbs. This is a little quicker than the other methods and is my personal favorite because I can do something else while I’m “watching” the herbs dry.
The oven should be set at it’s lowest temperature, or slightly warmer. You’re going to leave the door propped open a few inches with whatever you can find, a wooden spoon handle, metal yardstick, whatever.
Sources & references used in this article:
Faulkner’s Verbena by JI Haynes – The Mississippi Quarterly, 1980 – JSTOR
Nitrogen and phosphorus tissue concentrations in 41 wetland plants: a comparison across habitats and functional groups by HS Elshafie, E Mancini, I Camele, L De Martino… – Industrial Crops and …, 2015 – Elsevier