The essential ingredients for starting a lavender farm finally arrived! We received our first shipment of baby lavender plants a couple of weeks ago, after a long wait and more than a little worrying. Like all lavender farms starting out, we had to get our plants from a greenhouse where they had been grown from cuttings, since growing from seed produces too many variations from the mother plant to be viable for commercial production. This means that all of our plants will be true “cultivars” or cultivated varieties of the type that we have selected.
The boxes were well-packed with room to breathe, holes poked, and paper to absorb moisture, by the nursery, Sage Herbs in Winnipeg. As soon as we opened them, we took out the trays of plugs and set them in a covered place to stay dry and out of the direct sun for a few days.
We were a bit overwhelmed once we realized how many plants we had. Seeing them all spread out in one place, it was hard to imagine putting each and every one of them into the ground… and this is only the first shipment. There are still more on the way!
We had already prepared the Secret Field for the baby plants, with landscape plastic rolled out to protect them from competition with wild plants and flowers that might spring up there. This is also gives structure to the layout of the lavender, spaced apart to allow them to grow to full size and hopefully sit cosy side by side with one another once they are full grown.
With help from friends and family, including some wonderful volunteers from our community, we set to work putting all of the babies in the ground. Each root ball is carefully loosened, moistened, set into one of the holes (poked in the plastic by a custom-made tool) and then covered with soil. There is no shortage of rocks in our field (that is putting it mildly!) so we have re-purposed some for each plant to hold the landscape fabric and help direct water to the plant.
In our first shipment, we have five different types of lavender, selected for different uses, bloom periods, and winter heartiness. The cultivars of lavender we are planting now include:
In total, we have now planted over 800 plants, with the vast majority doing well and some growing really fast. For the first few weeks they need to be watered every day, unless there is a good rain and then we can skip a day. We continue to prepare the field for more plants, and work on making sure each of the ones planted are healthy and growing strong, with some alternates getting big in containers, waiting to fill in for any that don’t make it.
Up until now, we have been learning to raise baby cashmere goats and finding them to be very sweet companions, and easy to care for. Now we will see if our many baby lavender will be as cooperative! We’ll share more details soon about the different cultivars, including the ones in our next shipment.