You obviously can collect, dry and use herbs in your own way. However, it might be thoughtful to know the general rules and procedures for herbs products making. So, by reading, you can familiarize yourselves with basic information on the topic.
Herbs are plants that can affect health. Most of the herbs in the world today are not harvested from the wild, but grown on plantations. This is a certified organic production, without the use of agrochemicals and mineral fertilizers. Those are plants grown in meadows, in a field without irrigation, in a field with irrigation, in a field with drip irrigation and covering the soil with polymeric materials, in film greenhouses, in glass greenhouses, in high-tech greenhouses with a fully controlled climate and automation of all processes. Medicinal herbs are grown by specialized agro-industrial enterprises.
The cultivation of herbs is subject to basically the same principles that apply to other agricultural crops, but at the same time, the specific features of the cultivation of herbs must be taken into account.
Each herb requires a specific approach and growing technology suitable for local conditions and soil fertility, taking into account the relief and microclimate of the field.
Herbs can not grow near railways and roads, industrial enterprises, in a polluted environment.
Planting and sorting of medicinal herbs is carried out in strictly established terms for a particular plant in the specific region.
Sometimes it is required to acclimatize plants in places that differ from the natural habitat of these plants.
Several plants are cultivated at once, most corresponding to local natural conditions.
The varied composition of herbs makes the production process more complex.
When seeding, it is required to take into account the best predecessors in the area. Predecessors improve the soil, reduce the weediness of the field, create a good seedbed in the soil, accumulate moisture reserves, increase fertility, reduce the number of pests and pathogenic bacteria.
The soil must be cultivated in the best possible time.
Growing plants are to be processed properly.
Harvesting can be mechanized.
Manual labor is possible during harvesting.
It should be noted that some herbs are poisonous: belladonna, black henbane, dope, nightshade, etc. Admixture of these herbs to other plants is not allowed.
Common herbal precursors are cereals and vegetables. A multi-field interleaved growing system can be used for success.
The alternation of plants that differ in biological properties helps to reduce the spread of specific diseases and pests, and get a favorable change in the composition of the soil, and an increase in its biological activity.
For the cultivation of perennial grasses that are grown for more than 4 years on the field, special fields are selected.
Edible berries contain malic, citric and tartaric acids. For medicinal purposes, the leaves, berries, bark and roots of the plant are used. The leaves are also used for marinades, the berries for drinks, jams, marshmallows and sweets. Dried berries are often used as seasonings for rice dishes.
When growing plants, the presence of potassium in the soil is important for obtaining roots, the presence of phosphorus in the soil is important for obtaining flowers and fruits, the presence of nitrogen in the soil is important for obtaining grass and leaves. It is not allowed the use of agrochemicals and mineral fertilizers.
Before seeding, it is important to check the seeds for ability to germinate and germination vigor. Typically, the seeds of medicinal herbs germinate with difficulty. Stratification, fermentation, soaking, air-thermal and solar heating, scarification improve germination. Seeds are also treated before seeding to prevent pest attacks.
The soil must be leveled and moderately moist before seeding. The seed consumption of some crops is higher because they do not germinate well. Sometimes planted seeds need to be shaded.
Seedlings of plants require care, removal of weeds. This is often hand weeding. Timely irrigation is essential.
It is critical to prune the plants.
Harvesting of medicinal herbs most often occurs in dry sunny weather, during the period of maximum accumulation of active substances. Industrial harvesting is typically mechanized.
When seeds and fruits of plants harvesting, plants are cut, stacked in sheaves, transported, dried.
Rose hips and peppers are harvested at the stage of full ripening by hand or by special machines.
Flowers are harvested by hand as they bloom.
The leaves are harvested by cutting the plant and sorting.
Grass in most cases is harvested in the phase of mass flowering. Then loaded into transport.
The roots are harvested at the end of the growing season. Industrial harvesting of roots is carried out by special combines. The roots are sometimes washed and dried.
Harvesting of inflorescences and leaves of annual herbs is carried out once every 2 years.
Perennial grass is harvested once every 4-6 years.
The roots are harvested no more than once every 15-20 years.
Harvesting of rare and endangered plants is prohibited.
When harvesting the roots per 1 sq. meter, 3-5 plants are left, the seeds are left in the soil.
Drying herbs is the most simple and profitable to preserve herbs
When the water content in the plant is 10-14%, the activity of enzymes in the plant completely stops, intracellular processes stop. Useful substances are preserved.
Plants are dried in the shade, preserving their color and beneficial properties.
There are several types of drying:
- Air-shadow, under awnings, in attics.
- Sunny, open air.
- Artificial heat may be used for drying. The dryer must have strictly regulated modes.
Before drying, the grass is crushed to a size of no more than 10 millimeters.
There are many types of herb dryers available today.
When naturally dried, the plants should be laid out in a thin layer on racks, with a distance of 40-60 cm, in a well-ventilated area. The first two days, plant raw materials are turned up and down.
Raw materials containing essential oils are dried at a temperature not exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, in a thick layer of 10-15 cm, to prevent the essential oil from evaporating.
Raw materials containing glycosides, flavonoids, polysaccharides are dried at a temperature of 50-60 degrees Celsius.
Raw materials containing alkaloids are dried at temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius.
Raw materials containing vitamins are dried at a temperature of 60-70 degrees Celsius.
Raw materials containing ascorbic acid are dried at a temperature of about 80 degrees Celsius.
In the process of drying, plants lose weight:
Tree buds - 65-70%
Flowers - 70-80%
Leaves - 55-90%
Grass - 65-90%
Roots - 60-80%
Bark - 50-70%
Plant fruits - 30-60%
Seeds - 20-40%
After drying, the plant material is brought to a state of full compliance with the requirements of regulatory documentation. Raw materials are sorted, impurities, defective parts are removed. This can be done manually or with the help of machines. Sorting takes place in a ventilated room as dust is generated.
Purified herb materials are packed in waterproof bags. The purpose of packaging is to preserve the quality of raw materials during storage and transportation.
All dried, purified herb raw materials are packed in clean bags, pressed into bales, and placed in plywood boxes. Each type of raw material corresponds to a special method of packaging.
Leafy and herbaceous raw materials are pressed into bales. Seeds, fruits, roots are packed in bags. Flowers are packed in plywood boxes or bags.
Depending on the physicochemical properties of herb materials, packaging made of polymeric materials can be allowed. Some plants are stored in glass jars.
The packaging must also have a label or tag.
The marking must have:
Name of raw materials
Quality check signature
Packer's signature and packing date
Date and place of collection, production
Herb materials are stored in clean, dry, dark, cool and ventilated places. Each type of plant material is stored separately.
Raw materials of poisonous plants are stored separately.
Raw materials with a strong odor are stored separately.
Flowers are kept in boxes.
Fruits are stored in bags in a well-ventilated area.
Grass, flowers are stored no more than 2-5 years
Tree buds are stored 2 years
Roots and bark are stored for 5-7 years
Data is kept in records. The temperature in the warehouse should be 10-12 degrees Celsius, the humidity should not exceed 13%.
Periodic monitoring of storage conditions is necessary.
Personnel entrusted with sampling must be qualified.
Quality control is carried out by specific methods.