Working off my last post, I decided that I would harvest some of the St. John’s Wort growing not only in my backyard, but also along a section of railroad tracks that I frequently walk. So after a little online research, I got to cutting and picking. First of all, I realized I was a little late in my harvest, so there were quite a few that had already bloomed, but that was okay, because there were still plenty left! Second, I made sure to selectively cut from each plant, taking only a small branch in every cut (think about the plant as looking more like a tree or a shrub, with many branches off one main stem). And third, I made sure to leave atleast 1/3 of the flowers on each plant, allowing for the flowers still to be enjoyed by other people, bees, butterflies, and everything else that may find joy and life in them.
As I harvested, I was sure to offer my thanks, and realized how relaxing and calming the whole experience was. There’s nothing like taking part in activities that help ground you.
I even had a visitor help me out- well, if you call being attacked helping! Our neighbor’s cat Domino is a frequent visitor of ours and decided that once I entered the tall weeds, I was in her turf and would play by her rules!
The photo doesn’t show it well here, but the way the sun was setting, it was hitting the flowers and making them glow a bright gold. After cutting, I removed some of the leaves from the stems and shook them well to release any insects that may have been holding on, in addition to any of the seeds that came from other since past flowers.
And then I gathered them in bunches and hung them in my bedroom- only because the kitchen walls did not offer enough hanging room that was located out of direct sunlight. Here they will stay for a few weeks or until they are dry enough to continue processing and then stored. Depending on what part of the country you are from, in addition to your own personal experience, you may decide to dry yours differently. A commenter posted she puts hers in a paper bag and in a dark dry place to dry- but like she mentioned, she’s out west where it’s naturally much dryer and she doesn’t need to worry about mold. I’m sure hers will dry much faster too. But small bunches allows for greater penetration to the center of the group for drying, and keeping them out of direct sunlight, although you might think they would dry faster if they weren’t, will help prevent the flowers from drying out too fast, breaking down, and loosing their beautiful color. And hanging them upside down will prevent any stress put on the stem if they were left right side up and left to wilt before drying- it also makes them easier to work with after dried. Besides, they look a lot nicer hanging like that than somewhere wilted!
After dried, I’m going to save the flowers for use in tea. I did a lot of thinking about tinctures, and although they sound to be much more powerful and convenient, I’m still a little unsure about the logistics and decided to stick with something I’m more familiar with for now. Maybe next year I’ll venture that way. For now, the flowers will dry a few weeks until ready for storage.