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Drying Herb - Practice & Theory

Gardening Tips

This is it! Your crops are ready and the harvesting process is going smoothly. You’re this close to obtaining your precious herb! But wait, before you let your guard down, aren’t you forgetting something? 

Drying.  Drying your herb is a task that should not be ignored, make a mistake and all your harvest will go kaput. Take it for granted and all your efforts will go to waste, especially if you want the good stuff, the really good ones. With that said, great tasting and long lasting herbs are actually products of a successful drying process! Interested? Then keep on reading!

In general, the drying process often starts after harvesting your herb and maybe after removing some of the unwanted parts (such as the leaves). There are many kinds of drying methods and each has their own pros and cons but these ones are the most commonly used and are the most effective:

1. Screen Drying
Screen drying is the process of laying out your harvested buds on a screen and leave them to dry. Any screen would do as long as it’s filled with holes that air can flow through. A typical screen is something similar to that of a window screen there are spaces for the air to flow.

Screen drying is effective because it allows equal airflow depending on the layout of your buds. Screen drying is typically used for the smaller buds (because it can be challenging to hang them) but big buds can still be dried in this manner. Another benefit of screen drying is that it is very shy on space because each screen can be stacked on each other.

In order for screen drying to work, there are some prerequisites that the grower must do beforehand. The first one is that each bud must be naked, meaning there shouldn’t be leaves on it and that the buds must be on its own without the stems. This is a drawback mainly because removing the stems might dry your plants a bit too quick affecting taste. Additionally, it might consume more time that it should. Another drawback is that if small and big buds are placed together on one screen, the small ones will dry first than the bigger ones which will affect your overall yield.

2. Drying Lines
Drying lines and clotheslines are very similar in nature; the buds are hanged the same fashion as the clothes are. Using a string or an actual clothesline, the grower can hang the buds upside-down.

Drying lines are complete with stems, making the drying process slower. The reason for this is that the stems still have water in them and they trickle down as the buds get dried. This actually gives the yield a smoother taste! Air is also distributed equally depending on the layout or how the grower hangs his/her crops.

The set-up makes take some space. Aside from this, proper mixing of ventilation and humidity must be applied in order to avoid growing molds

3. Cage Drying
Similar to drying lines, the buds are hanged from a “cage” like structure instead of a clothesline. In this set-up, the buds are also hanged upside-down.

Since the cage or fence is not attached to anything but itself, the whole thing can be moved from one place to another. If need be, the whole thing can be moved in cases like closing in the distance of the herb from the heater (fans, dehumidifiers, etc.) and vice versa.

If you don’t have one yet, you may have to build it yourself. If you try to make one, and it’s not as good as it should be, it will affect the overall outcome of your crops.
Now that you know the three most common but effective way of drying, there are other things to consider in drying your herb such as the speed of the process. As stated above, the speed of the drying process will affect the quality and taste. Here are a few ways to simulate the environment to ensure the perfect speed of drying:

1. Fans
Using electric fans is very handy especially because it can avoid the chances of mold appearing and it speeds up the drying process. However, make sure that the fan hits everyone and not just one single area, as that area will most probably dry up first!

2. Dehumidifiers
Removing the moisture in the air will generally speed up the process of drying simply because the air is dry as well. Try setting it at 35% humidity to get the best results.

3. Heaters
Heaters work similarly to dehumidifiers. When heating the air or the environment that your buds are in, it speeds up the drying process as the heat will lower the humidity in the room. Compared to a cold, chilly room, your buds will grow faster in a warmer one.
With all that said, the ideal moisture content of the bud should be around 8-10%. With this percentage, the bud will not crumble to dust and it will also not burn up too fast. The low moisture content will also repel molds. If you’re not sure of the percentage, try bending the stem and breaking a bud. If the stem breaks and the bud crumbles, it’s overdue. On the other hand, if the stem doesn’t break, it’s still quite wet. The best scenario would be if the stem breaks but not the bud.

Well, there you have it. Drying your herb is integral to the whole process, don’t neglect it.There are a lot of ways to dry your bud and it’s up to you what method you want. Remember, it’s important to stay informed and well-practiced to be able to produce the best outcome!

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