June 9, 2010
Chamomile is an annual daisy-like herb that gets its name deriving from the Greek from chamaimēlon meaning earth apple or the apple-like scent. Chamomile is commonly made into a tea for it's calming effect to help relax before sleep. In the home garden chamomile tea can be used to prevent dampening off in seedlings. It can also be used as a dye to produce a green colour.
I love chamomile tea! It is hard to find chamomile plants here most years I have to grow from seed. However this year I got lucky and found a nice sized chamomile plant for the garden. This was a nice surprise because I've had problems getting my chamomile to reach a good size for drying. Drying chamomile is quite easy as you can pull up the entire plant, discard flowers, check for other infestations then simply break into stems and dry in a dark, cool, dry place on a drying screen for about 7 - 10 days. Flowers must be removed because the yellow bits fall off as the herb dries. Dry to the point that that the leaf crumbles. Cut across the chamomile into 1" pieces then vacuum seal in glass jars for later use. This year I'm hoping a couple of jars of home dried chamomile will grace my pantry for tea through the winter months.