When to harvest plants

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When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:19 am

Determine when to harvest your plant material. The amount of oil in a plant depends on where it is in its life cycle, so it’s important to harvest each species of plant at the right time.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
AngelicaXX
AniseXXXX
BasilXXXX
Bay leafXXXX
CarawayXX
CilantroXXXX
FennelXXXX
GarlicXX
JasmineXXXX
JuniperXXXXX
LavenderXX
Lemon verbenaXXXX
MintXXXX
MyrtleXXXX
OreganoXXXX
ParsleyXX
RoseXXXX
RosemaryXXXXX
SageXXXX
TarragonXX
ThymeXXXX
WormwoodXXXX

Note: These dates are suggested dates from an essential oil book and obviously there are variables that would effect the times.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby rubber duck » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:16 pm

This is a great guide, but what about the zone? My wormwood doesn't even flower until September. Wild Angelica is flowers now. You've got to remember what zone your in, and mine is the brigadoon zone.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:46 am

rubber duck wrote:This is a great guide, but what about the zone? My wormwood doesn't even flower until September. Wild Angelica is flowers now. You've got to remember what zone your in, and mine is the brigadoon zone.

Good point, I got this from several sources so I am guessing that the reason it shows multiple months is for the different zones. I know that where I live north of Seattle, we are at least 2 weeks behind in production.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby sweeps » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:13 am

Also the best time to harvest can vary a little from year to year, depending on the growing season.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:33 am

Rubber Duck, wormwood is one of the plants I want to grow in my garden. Can you tell me where you purchased your plant?
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby rubber duck » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:49 pm

I can't remember off hand, I'll get the info to you though. Once I started growing it I saw it groing all over the place, absinthe herbs are mostly weeds, they grow every where you just need to know what they look like.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby sweeps » Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:15 am

Wormwood is really easy to grow from seed.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:20 am

Making absinthe by combining essential oils is in my future.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby sweeps » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:05 am

Compound absinthes, where various essential oils are mixed with a neutral spirit, are generally regarded as inferior to those absinthes made by maceration and redistillation of herbs in alcohol. In Switzerland, products made by cold compounding are not even allowed to be called absinthe.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:14 am

sweeps wrote:Compound absinthes, where various essential oils are mixed with a neutral spirit, are generally regarded as inferior to those absinthes made by maceration and redistillation of herbs in alcohol. In Switzerland, products made by cold compounding are not even allowed to be called absinthe.

Good to know as I have never done it before. Might use my essential oil set up to add the botanicals to the basket and run low wines through the smaller still. Could be a good experiment to do a side by side taste test.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby sweeps » Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:33 am

It's a similar situation with compound gins vs distilled gins, the former generally being considered inferior to the latter.

I must admit, however, I don't know whether the compounding process inherently produces an inferior product, or whether it is simply that producers whose goal is to produce a cheaper product and who are not using the best quality ingredients in the first place, will tend to use that process. I do know that maceration/redistillation does not automatically guarantee a great product. Perhaps top quality essential oils from top quality ingredients can result in a good quality compounded product. I've never tried it, so I can't say, but I'd definitely be interested in hearing about it if you do a side by side test.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby OtisT » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:51 am

For the Pacific NW of the US, the Lavender dates are a bit off. The chart is likely referring to the "English" variety of Lavender. There is another prominent form of lavender grown here that blooms in June/July.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:51 pm

OtisT wrote:For the Pacific NW of the US, the Lavender dates are a bit off. The chart is likely referring to the "English" variety of Lavender. There is another prominent form of lavender grown here that blooms in June/July.

Probably true I got those dates from a book on essential oils. I did write a disclaimer that may be slightly off depending on altitude and locations. Obviously Australia's summers are different than ours.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby skow69 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:00 pm

The subject of this thread has suddenly become very important to me. Being new to this, I am just flying by the seat of my pants. A guide that shows a 4 month range for harvest doesn't seem to me to be terribly helpful. Many of my herbs seem to go from vegitative growth phase, with no sign of budding, through the flowering stage, to setting seeds within a month.

I think I am late for harvesting my mint and mellissa. They have gone to full flower, become tall and skinny, with smaller leaves. They haven't gone to seed, but they don't feel supple and plump like they did. Now they are more woody and stiff. I harvested them anyway, thinking I will evaluate them after drying.

I caught the hyssop with just the beginnings of a few purple flowers, most of them still just buds. This feels like a good time to harvest them.

I feel pretty good about the wormwood. I usually get anxious and jump the gun, but this time I waited until most of them are full of tiny yellow flowers.

My one mature Angelica plant bloomed, matured, and was harvested a couple of weeks ago. I got an ounce and a half of clean seeds from it. I'm feeling good about that outcome also.

My general impression is that most things should be harvested when the flowers are budding but before they get to full bloom, and if they go to seed that is way too late. [This does not apply to umbrella type plants that we grow for seed, such as fennel, coriander, and angelica.] Any advice would be appreciated.

The one tip I feel confident in passing on is this: Harvest in the morning as soon as possible after the dew has burned off to minimize the loss of the precious oils we are after.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby sweeps » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:03 am

The suggested harvest dates are really just to give you a general idea of when you need to be prepared to harvest particular plants. There are simply too many variables involved to make any more precise predictions.

Case in point. I have two hyssop plants. Both came from the same packet of seed; both are growing in the same spot in the garden, in identical containers, in the same growing medium. However, one plant is always ready to harvest two or three weeks before the other. I have no idea why, but it's the same every year.

Also, another exception to the "harvest before they are in full bloom" guideline is when you are harvesting the flowers themselves, rather than the flowering tops of herbs - elderflower, St. John's wort, hibiscus, etc. They are generally best picked just as they reach full bloom.

All that being said, even if you don't harvest at precisely the right time, there's still a good chance that your home grown stuff will be better than most of what you can buy from commercial operations.
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Re: When to harvest plants

Postby Bushman » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:57 am

Ok I went back and amended the original post with a disclaimer in case someone only reads the first post without reading the entire thread. Thanks for the input guys!
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