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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Drying & Storing Plant Materials
Today I'm going to share some ideas for drying & storing your gathered plant materials.
Not everyone can afford to spend too much on a place for specifically drying the plants & herbs they gather. I spent too much time just laying them out on tables, old window screens, and any other open, flat surface down in the barn. That wasted all my table surfaces and gathered dust horribly, to say nothing of the lost seeds!
My idea to fix this problem is to buy one piece of lattice at Lowe's, a package of medium size hooks (enough to screw into each, or every other, cross-section), and a small box of long screws.
Screw the hooks into each of the cross-sections.
I have open beams in my barn y'all may not in your space so you'll have to find the ceiling studs. Screw the lattice piece to the studs (obviously with the hooks on the bottom side!)
To remember what each plant is I have 2 suggestions:
1) Setting up a grid on a piece of paper or on your computer to keep track of what is where on the lattice. Granted, some plants will be easy (Yarrow & Goldenrod come to mind instantly), but others may get confusing (for example, Heal-All plants that don't have the flower heads on them can look like any generic dried plant). This method is perfect for having in your house for quick reference (date gathered and approximate date for taking down, uses (oil infusion, tinctures, etc.)).
2) Write the plant name on bread tab ties and attach to the bundle's hanger.
And if you're like me, you'll probably incorporate both. ;D
Now, as for storing your herbs & plant materials, this can get very expensive! But it doesn't have to. I work with what I have and only purchase if it's absolutely necessary. Everywhere you read to never store your herbs in plastic containers. I've never found a truly good (and proven) reason why. All the herbs you buy at the store are in plastic containers, and they smell & taste just fine, and are potent enough for ritual work. So, why not that which you wildcraft yourself?
Here y'all can use saved herb & seasoning bottles for small amounts or if y'all's families like nuts then keep the large containers they come in. We have a macaw so we buy nuts for her every month. I keep the containers to use for storing everything from plant materials to crafting materials.
To clean them I fill with hot water, some dish soap, and a bit of bleach and then let it sit overnight. This cleans out any residue and eliminates any smells.
Now, if you're a purist and absolutely will not use plastic (and I admit I am this way with some plant materials in particular), then saving glass jars works well. I clean out (as above), save, and use spaghetti jars. I like things to be uniform (mix & match is not "order" to me and drives me nuts), so I use all the same type of jars from the same brand. Different brands use different jar styles, pick the style and spaghetti (or other food) y'all like and start saving those jars!
I like wide-mouth jars for ease of getting the plant materials out. The plastic nut containers are the best in this respect for whole or large sections of the plants, and the spaghetti jars work well especially if the plants are crushed and/or powdered.
The point here is to look at what y'all already have or get & use on a regular basis. Then re-purpose the containers! And if y'all are like me y'all will end up with a very large collection of (hopefully) soon-to-be re-purposed cans, jugs, bottles, and containers of all shapes & sizes!