July – Lavender crop

Lavandula angustifolia

The plant genus Lavandula  comprises 39 species, and many commercial cultivars.  A member of the the mint familiy (labiatae),the native habitat of these small, short lived shrubs ranges from Mediterranean Europe / North Africa, over Asia Minor to SE India, and grow best in full sun on rocky slopes.

Traditionally  Lavender oils has been produced mostly in France, but commercial output has recently been significantly reduced by the presence of  fungal pathogens which cause plant diseases, like wilt and root rot. Sharp drainage loving Lavender plants are highly susceptible to organisms associated with waterlogged soils, such as Fusarium, Phytophthora, Pythium and Rhizoctonia.

In recent years Bulgaria has emerged as a leading Lavender oil producing county, and exports it’s oil crop to France, Germany, UK, North America and Asia. The majority of Bulgarian Lavender is cultivated in the Rose valley, on rocky, barren slopes, where it is carefully hand harvested with sickles instead of machines.

Lavender fields in Bulgaria

Lavender contains more than 2000 active compounds, most of which have not been researched yet, and which all work synergistically with each other. A few of the known active compounds are linalyl acetat, linalol, lavandulol, lavandulyl acetate, terpineol, cineol, limonene, caryophyllene, ocimene.

Linalyl acetat effects the central nervous system and is responsible for the calming, sleep inducing properties of Lavender. Linalool is highly antimicrobial and is key ingredient for the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities of Lavender. Each of the different kinds of Lavandula species and cultivars has a different chemical makeup, and country of origin, as well as growing specifics greatly influence the quality of a individual Lavender oil crop. The medicinal qualities of Lavender oil can be enhanced by mixing varieties of Lavender oils for a specific purpose.

The following criteria are instrumental in producing a high quality lavender oil:

-    Organic cultivation

-    Harsh environmental climate exposure

-    Sun and rain exposure during growing season

-    Quality of the soil (rocky, poor)

-    Very little fertilizer for cultivated crops

-    Distillation method and equipment used

-    Harvest time during the day (in full sun)

-    Immediate crop storage in cool, shady areas after harvest

-    Pure oil without adulterating additives

-    Cool, light and oxygen protected storage

Lavender essential oil is used externally  in Aromatherapy oil burning session  inhalations, or applied to the skin in forms of creams, salves, shampoos, massage oils. Lavender flowers are a delicious addition to a large variety of  teas, and foods. Honey produced from Lavender field is a gourmet specialty.

A fantastic first aid remedy, Lavender essential oil should not be missed in any home, or travel kit.

  • Dab a drop of lavender oil on your temples for migraines.

  • Place a few drops on a cotton ball and insert into your pillow case for insomnia.

  • Rub a drop of oil onto insect stings/bites.

  • Apply a drop of oil to cuts and bruises.

  • Apply a drop of lavender oil to athlete’s foot and other fungal skin infections.

  • Place a few drops into a bowl of hot water, and inhale the steam for bronchitis, sinusitis and other colds.

  • Add a few drops to your bath oil to rejuvenate.

  • Add a few drops to a carrier oil to massage sore muscles.

Drop amounts of Lavender essential oils may be applied directly to the skin, but not to mucous membranes and eyes.

Source: copyright courtesy of Green Cottage Creek