Lavender, lavender, lavender ... After years of dreaming about cultivating lavender and creating lavender value-added products, in April of 2016 we planted 350 lavender plants. These consist of two types - 250 named Grosso and 100 named Fred Boutin. These two varieties of Lavandin x intermedia were chosen because they have a strong scent and their oils that can be extracted. We bought these plants for $5 each ( in one-gallon pots ) from the Kaltz family, who has sold plants at the Eastern Market for over 30 years.

We used the no-till method to create our lavender beds. First we laid cardboard over the mowed lawn and then made 3' wide and 18" high swathes of tree leaves ( collected from the previous Fall ) down the entire length of the beds. Lavender needs good drainage so the beds were designed so that after the leaves were stepped on and compressed, they would sit a foot high. Then we made a mixture of 1 part each of top soil, compost and sand in a wheelbarrow and mixed in a handful or two each of lime and azomite. The contents of each wheelbarrow, which contained enough mixture for 2 plants, was placed 4 feet apart into cavities made several inches deep into the bed of leaves, where each plant was planted. 

After carefully untangling and splaying out the root system of the plant in different directions, gently cover the layers of roots and firm the mixture over them. Then a shallow depression was made around the base of each plant, which we filled with an inch of pea gravel to serve as a mulch. The depression directs water to the plants roots and the pea gravel keeps organic matter away from the base of the lavender, which has a tendency to rot if kept damp for too long. To finish the beds, generous amounts of wood chips added to the paths serve to shore up the lavender mounds, wick moisture to the bottom of the beds and add an attractive aesthetic appearance to the landscape.

We watered all of our plants well to get them started and then throughout the season gave them a thorough watering every 10 days. As for pruning, lavender stems are always pruned back no further than 2" above the old woody stems. In the Spring, cut back any branches that may have died. Prune plants twice a year, very early in the Spring and in the late Fall. During the season, when harvesting your lavender plants, cut the stems when the buds are fully colored and swollen.

As our lavender plants mature and grow larger, we will be considering what kinds of lavender value-added products we can make from their blossoms.