Lavender

Lavender

Lavender fills the early-summer garden with sensory delights: beautiful purple-tone blooms atop foliage that oozes fragrance on a sunny afternoon. Every part of the plant is infused with aromatic oil, making this a choice herb to place along pathways or near outdoor seating areas so you can savour the fragrance.

Soil Prep

Plant lavender in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil with a pH between 6.7 and 7.3. You can add builder’s sand to the soil before planting to increase drainage, which is vital because lavender will not tolerate excessive soil moisture or humidity.

How to Plant

Set out plants 12 to 18 inches apart in an open area with full sun and good air circulation. To further improve drainage, plant lavender in a raised bed, along a wall, or near the top of a slope. In an herb or perennial bed, ensure good drainage by planting lavender on a small mound. Do not over-water, and allow the soil to dry before watering again. 

Pruning/Harvesting

Lavender flowers bloom in summer; you can clip faded blooms to encourage continued blooming throughout the warm season. Prune lightly to promote branching, especially in spring once the plants show new growth. If you cut the blooms, trim in a way that thins the plant a bit, leaving it open for better air circulation.

Harvest lavender stems at any time by cutting them from the plant. However, avoid clipping more than every third stem to keep the plant looking full. Flowers will keep their perfume for months when you harvest just before they are entirely open. To dry flowers, gather a bunch of stems and hang them upside-down in a dark, well-ventilated place to preserve colour and keep the stems from moulding.

Tips

Fresh flowers may be used in sauces, marinades, and desserts. Handle fragile dried blossoms with care and use them in teas, salts, potpourri, sachets, and crafts. For cooking, use lavender varieties that have the sweetest scent such as: True English Lavender, Lavender Lady and Munstead. 

Recipe

Honey, Lemon and Lavender -Marinated Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

1 chicken – cut into 6-8 pieces

Salt

1 tbsp dried edible lavender

2 garlic cloves

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 tbsp of olive oil

4 tbs runny honey

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade: 

Place the lavender in the mortar and slightly crush it with the pestle, cracking open the dried buds. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place the lavender on a clean surface, like your kitchen counter or a cutting board, and crush it with the back of a wooden spoon.

In a large bowl, add the lavender, garlic, thyme, olive oil, honey, lemon zest and juice and a little black pepper and mix well with a spoon. 

Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and coat them well with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or, alternatively, place the chicken pieces with the marinade in a plastic bag suitable for storing food and seal it. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 4 hours. If you choose to marinate the chicken for more than 1 hour, place it in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you put it in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius / 390 Fahrenheit.

Place the marinated chicken in a roasting tray large enough to fit all the pieces in one layer, drizzle the marinade on top and add salt to taste.

Roast the chicken for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken takes on a golden brown colour and the skin becomes crispy and caramelised.

Serve along with the delicious juices from the pan. They are perfect for dunking your bread in.

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