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Herb Scentsations

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Herb Scentsations

Did you know lavender can help in the treatment of dandruff? Or that thyme is said to help cure that dreaded 'one too many' hangover? Herbs can do so much more than just flavour stews and roasted vegetables. They can be used in everything from scented candles and pot pourri, to sleep accessories and skin relief remedies.

Lavender and thyme are two versatile herbs that not only make a great addition to any garden but are also handy to keep in the medicine cabinet or top drawer at home. So this month we're going to focus on planting herbs to use in homemade soap.

So when you're next out at your local supermarket, Warehouse or Bunnings store why not add a bundle or two of Awapuni's lavender and/or thyme seedlings to your trolley. Or alternatively, Awapuni seedlings can be purchased online at www.awapuni.co.nz and delivered right to your door.

The first thing you need to do is find a good spot in your garden. Lavender and thyme love the sun and tend to be at their happiest when planted in well-drained soil.

Don't have a garden? No problem! Just use a container, pot, planter or hanging basket. Lavender has a large spreading root system, so plant it in a pot to accommodate the roots, leaving a couple of inches to spare. But don't buy a pot too big as lavender prefers to grow in tight spots.

When planting in containers or pots use a top quality potting mix as soil is variable and often doesn't drain adequately when used in pots and containers.

Once you've decided on the perfect spot to plant, dig a hole (approximately 3cms deep) and place your seedling inside.

Cover the roots with soil (or potting mix if using a pot) and add a general fertiliser, such as nitrophoska blue, to the soil surrounding the seedlings. Nitrophoska blue is high in potassium providing a good balanced diet for flower and leaf growth.

If your planting lavender and thyme seedlings in the garden, layer newspaper around your plants, and then cover the newspaper with peastraw. This homemade mulch will prevent your thyme and lavender seedlings drying out during the day and in between watering sessions.

It's important to keep your lavender plant well pruned to encourage new growth. Regularly harvesting the lavender for crafts, skin relief, perfume, and recipes will help with this.

In around four to six weeks your thyme leaves and lavender flowers will be ready for harvesting. So why not put them to use in a cake of homemade soap?

Pick a handful of lavender and thyme and tie in small bunches by the stems. Leave them in a dark, but ventilated space (wardrobes or closets are good) for three to four weeks to dry.

While you're flowers are drying you can purchase soap flakes or 'melt and pour' soap bars from many health stores around the country.

Using a microwave safe dish, gently melt the soap base in the microwave for two minute bursts at a time, remembering to stir in between.

While the soap is melting, gently pick off the flower bud and herb endings from your dry herbs.

When the soap is fully melted, take it out of the microwave and leave on the counter bench to cool for two minutes. Once cooled, add your lavender and/or thyme cut-offs to suit and stir.

You may like to add a few drops of essential oil to scent, or try adding rice graduals to aid in exfoliation.

Once you're happy with your mixture, pour in to a mould or baking tray (mini muffin tins are good), leave to harden for 24 hours and voila! You've made beautiful homemade soap that you can keep yourself, or decorate and send to family and friends.

If thyme and lavender are not your thing, try experimenting with other herbs. Awapuni stock a wide range to suit all sorts from mint and sage to bergamot and lemon balm. Check out the full range at www.awapuni.co.nz

Tod Palenski - Awapuni Nurseries

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