Harvesting Red Clover

I love red clover and so do bees!

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In my garden I have two long patches of red clover which I planted from seed a few years ago. Never have to plant it again for it comes back every year, stronger and more beautiful than ever it seems; if I didn’t keep it cut back it would take over the whole garden.

In the photo below you can see just a small section of a long clover patch. If you look closely you can see some potato plants also growing along with the clover. These potato plants came up from potatoes I missed last year when digging them up. I miss some every year so I end up with bonus potatoes.  Growing in the clover patch might be a good thing as I haven’t seen any Colorado potato beetles this year so far on the potato plants. I used to plant a row of potatoes and keep the row tidy with only potato plants. This year the potatoes came up willy-nilly in the clover so maybe they were more hidden? Or was this just a good year without potato beetles?

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Red clover blossoms can be eaten fresh or dried. I collect the best-looking flowers on sunny mornings, place them on a wire rack in an upstairs room where they stay warm and dry. It takes a few days for the clover to nicely dry and then I put them in a glass jar with tight lid to use in making herb teas for my family.

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Red Clover Tea, Coming Up!

026How fun! Drying my first red clover flowers so I can make some red clover tea.

This year I entered the “Kingdom of Herbs” and am having so much fun learning about herbs, as well as edible flowers and other plants.  I’ve always been aware of “herbs” and have grown a few culinary ones to snip and add flavor to our home-cooked meals.

When I was in college I majored in biology but never took any botany courses.  I thought botany was boring.  Finally at 68 years of age my view of the plant kingdom is definitely awe, wonder and appreciation.

This new love and awareness may, however, become an addiction.  My kids already are worried, especially if they have to take care of me in old age.  They have visions of a little old lady wandering around outside in the meadows and forests looking for edible plants of unknown safety.  But for now, with some amount of sanity still remaining, I’ll stick with herb guide books and I even plan to enroll in an online course.

001Last year I planted red clover along the edges of my vegetable beds and they are blooming so wonderfully right now.  I read an article about drying red clover flowers for tea.  So, I went out to my garden early this morning and gathered a small bowl full of dew-laden red clover blossoms.  According to the article it is better to pick red clover flowers when they still have some dew moisture so that they will retain the pretty color.

007Here is my first batch! Drying on a rack upstairs in our home where it is warm and dry.

Hopefully in 1-2 weeks I will surprise, and hopefully delight, my family with a cup of  “homemade” red clover tea.