Saturday, March 5, 2011

Year Three New Farm, New Plans

The third year a lot of things changed.  We learned from our mistakes and our successes from the first two years.  We learned what to do and what not to do.  We learned what varieties worked and those that couldn't weather our upstate New York winters.  Through all of this we had a reliable, knowledgeable and delightful business supplier, our lavender supplier Sarah Bader from Stonegate Lavender in Oregon.  Her lavender was always top notch, and the service was impeccable.  Sarah's knowledge was a deep well we drew upon often.  One major change was that my wife to be and I purchased a small 8 acre farm and decided it was time to really get down to business and put all we learned to the test.  We had a few large fields with many of them exposed to strong winds we get almost year round.  Fear of the wind desiccating the lavender worried me.  We picked one mounded field which had graceful lines that we could see well from the house.  Here is where we chose to plant 700 lavender plants.  We have always chosen 3 inch size plants not plugs. I know there are some growers who will save a dollar or so to get plugs.  Here in the north though I don't have that luxury.  I need to get these plants off to a good start so they are large enough to survive our winters.  Most of our plants by the end of the summer have easily tripled in size.  We planted these on a curve, a long arc.  When asked this year by a state inspector why not straight rows, "I replied because it looks nice!"  That is the reason - aesthetically it just looks nicer than straight rows.  We allow 4 foot wide paths between our rows.  These rows are grass which makes it easy for us to just mow and here again looks nice. We also wanted the paths to be grass as it is nice to walk on for our customers that visit the farm.  We did make one mistake.  I plowed up the whole field instead of just the area I needed.  It is a hassle to seed it and make it look well right off the bat.  Now we till just the row we need for lavender, not the surrounding grass.  In fact that is how we made our lavender labyrinth.  We just tilled our design into the soil leaving the grass path to walk.


Bee happy farm said...

Your blog is a favorite of mine. Well written and great information. I am going to farm lavender and getting the field ready to plant later in the season. I have always seen my field of lavender in curved rows like yours but may be over thinking it. How did you do your curved rows? Did you measure the contour of your field and stake it out?

Thank you for being a great blog!!

Doug Schmidt said...

Thanks Bee Happy Farm,
For out curved rows we took a stick on a string. Placed the stick in the middle of our field and on the other end we held a can of spray paint with the string and sprayed our arc while moving the string and keeping it taut. That is also how we did our lavender labyrinth too. I saw your blog and liked how you are making a place for bees. We are attempting the same here a little oasis for the bees.