Turkey Creek Lavender

Turkey Creek Lavender

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Questions I Commonly Get Asked About the Lavender and a Little More About Me























“So, how’s the lavender?”
I'm never sure if people really want to know the answer. Is that a question like, "What's up?" or "How's it going?" I don't know, but I always answer.

This time of year my reply is usually something like, “Well…it’s just there…waiting for spring.”



















And that’s just what it’s doing. Waiting. I always find it so surprising how resilient the lavender is. It looks like a somewhat dry, closely pruned shrub in the winter. Dormant.



















But just as it starts warming up, new leaves appear on the plants, and new growth soon follows. Plants that I suspected were dead, rally, turn green, and send out lovely lavender stalks as we move into summer.



















I admit I was worried when the ice coated the lavender plants so thick it obscured their shape.


















And I was mildly concerned when the snow covered the plants not once, but twice this year. I don’t take any extra precautions like lavender farms to the north, like mulching, or using floating row covers. Our weather just doesn’t get that bad in Oklahoma. And the soil where I live is so sandy that winter moisture is always welcome.

"Why did you decide to plant lavender?”
When I planted my first 500 lavender plugs in the early spring of 2007 I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I really know what I was doing. But I was intrigued by the idea of growing something like lavender. I loved the smell of it. I loved the look of it. I liked the idea of a little lavender farm. I envisioned a beautiful little field of purple swaying in the hot, Oklahoma breeze, with sunflowers and zinnias in the background.




















I could see it in my mind so perfectly. And, having moved around with the military all of my life, first as an Army brat, then as an Army spouse, I guess I literally wanted to put down some sort of "roots."

Never mind that I’d never grown lavender before. I knew I liked it. A lot. So I read, and I researched, and I screwed up the courage to e-mail a few actual lavender farms. The lavender growing community is a very gracious one. In general everyone responded to my queries, but especially Chris and Denise at Clear Creek Lavender, which is east of Tulsa. They both offered great advice about suppliers, and drip irrigation, and various other resources. And they didn’t couch the fact that being a lavender farmer is hard work.

"How do you grow lavender in southwest Oklahoma?”
Lavender, which actually grows naturally in the mediterranean climate of France, likes dry, hot, rocky soil. And, as you probably know, France is the biggest producer of commercial lavender. Well, then, I reasoned, it should grow here in dry, hot, rocky Oklahoma, right? Weeeeelll…in theory. Lavender doesn’t like clay soil because clay doesn’t drain well, and holds too much water, so if you have clay (and who doesn’t have clay in southwest Oklahoma, right?) then your soil would have to be amended. Lavender doesn’t like what is commonly referred to as wet feet, meaning wet roots. It likes well drained, sandy/loamy soil, and lots of sun, a minimum of 6 hours of hot, glorious sunshine. Well, I had that in abundance, and while my soil isn’t exactly loamy, it is sandy. Silty sandy. It drains well. Almost too well. I discovered the hard way that I had to water during the winter dry spells. I lost plants that first winter. And the second. And we’ll just have to wait and see what made it this year, my third.

Then there is the weeding. I did not put down a commercial weed cloth. I wasn’t sure the lavender would grow, and produce, so I didn’t want the expense. But it is back breaking work, the day in, day out vigilance to keep the weeds at bay. Especially the sand burrs. I hate sand burrs. I despise sand burrs. I have had them in my knees, and my hands, the bottoms of all my pants, my gloves, stuck on the sleeves of my jackets, the dogs get them in their paws. Those suckers are evil. And they hurt. And after you pull them out, they hurt some more. Okay, enough on the sand burrs, but I had to vent.

I am the first to admit that I am not a lavender expert, and I still have so much to learn. And by commercial lavender farm standards, mine is but a tiny one. But I keep studying, and learning, and planting, and replanting. I keep growing the lavender, and consequently, the lavender business grows. And indirectly, I find the lavender has allowed me to grow. Just when I was wondering what was next for a soon to be mid-lifer, I found a new direction. And I have the lavender to thank for that.

Warmest Regards,

CL


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