Spring on the Farm
Spring is all about weeding and light pruning and planting (and replanting) and fixing. And waiting. Lots of waiting.
First the weeds. Even with a weed barrier, there is weeding to do. So we start with a good mowing, a thorough weed-whacking, and then the hands and knees fun of pulling weeds out of all the nooks and crannies that weeds get themselves into, often growing up through the lavender plant itself. While I’m down there, I will work in a little compost and lime around my plants, only because our soil has a lot of clay in it. This is also the time where I will do some light pruning to remove any dead parts of the plant or reshape. Pruning also stimulated the plant to start growing, so that's an added bonus!
As I'm weeding and pruning, I will also identify plants that didn’t survive the winter. Thankfully, because we live in a mild climate and because lavender is so hardy, it’s usually not too many. How can I tell? Quite honestly, sometimes it’s kinda tough because lavender in its dormant stage looks pretty dead. But if I see a plant that doesn’t have any new growth on it, or if a plant only has new growth on a small part of it, then I will yank it out and replace it with a new plant. I think the first year I did this I was a little over zealous and pulled out plants that might have survived with a little pruning and patience. But these are the lessons you learn along the way.
Spring is also the time where I plant new rows of lavender. Every year I tell myself that I have enough lavender and that I don’t need anymore. But then I hear about a new variety or decide I want to change up the color a little or I’m not happy with the performance of a particular lavender variety (I’m looking at you Impress Purple) and I will add to or replace a row. Yes, this year I will cut back on the Impress Purple and replace it with more Grosso. And I’m adding just a few rows of Riverina Thomas. Oh, and just one row of Arctic Snow -- a white lavender!
Finally, once this is all done, I check the irrigation (which we only use occasionally) and replace the 10 million emitters that need to be replaced because they’re either clogged or got whacked by the weed whacker. And there are probably a few hoses that got mangled by the lawn mower. And some of the weed cloth probably needs to be stapled down a little better. And the field signs probably need some touch up.
During this time, the lavender has been reawakening. We see the leaves start to green up in April and May and then the little lavender heads start to peek out from the greenery, eager to take center stage. As they continue to reach skyward, their stems and heads are floppy and flimsy, but toward the middle of June they start to get stronger so that by the end of June the Angustifolias are ready to be harvested, with the intermedias a few weeks behind. I appreciate this and applaud my wisdom in having a few different varieties that bloom at different times to help me out. Because if I had 900 lavender plants all blooming at the same time, well, I might not be so enthusiastic about lavender farming.
So Spring is a busy time indeed...but soon it will be even busier!
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife, writer, and lavender farmer who lives in Dundee Oregon .