What we wished we'd known before starting a lavender farm.
I can't tell you the number of people who say, "Oh! A lavender farm! That must be so cool!" or "I've always wanted a lavender farm!"
While is is a pretty neat endeavor...and one that smells remarkable better than most typical "farm" smells - it is far from easy. Here are some things we wish we'd known before we began.
1. Plant on a hill.
Drainage is SO important for the life of lavender plants. The more hilly, rocky, slightly acidic soil you have, the better. Our soil drains fairly well, and most of our land is flat as a pancake, but we've had to amend our soil much more than anticipated.
2. Know about disease and test your plants.
While lavender is hardy and known to be resistent to many diseases, there's one that is taking many plants by storm. It's called Phytophthora and it can ruin your entire field and devastate a business. You can read more about it here. Unfortunately, we fear we may have it in our newest plants. We're sending them to UK for testing tomorrow. Be sure you're following our blog for results!
3. Have a plan.
See Jane. Jane has a business plan. Be like Jane.
See Mary and Allison. They have no business plan. Don't be like Mary and Allison.
Although I'm kidding (kind of), we didn't really know where we wanted to take this business when we started. We would have placed our plants in shorter, wider rows, anticipated for on-the-farm traffic, done better at preventative weeding, and done more research before throwing plants in the ground if we had to do it over. (A side note: KCARD is a free service in Kentucky that can help you think through some of these things! Find out more about them here).
4. Research which varieties do best in your climate. Know how you plan to use the plant.
There are a TON of different lavender varieties, but not all grow well in every environment. The two main groups are English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, and lavandins Lavandula x intermedia. We started out with two varieties, Munstead, which is a English lavender and a culinary lavender, and Grosso (fat spike), a lavandin.
5. It's a labor of love.
We love our little endeavour, but quickly realized that it's no easy task! Everything we've done has been labor-intensive. The planting, weeding, harvesting, drying, debudding, and more, has to be done by hand. It's been fun to get our families involved in every step of the process (although I'm not certain they would agree), and we hope to see the operation expand in the future, but it's certainly not a "plant it and they will grow" operation! Lavender doesn't really like Kentucky soil or weather, so we sometimes feel as if we are fighting a loosing battle, but don't worry...we'll keep on fighting it! We love sharing our passion with other lavender lovers out there!
What about you? Have you had success with your lavender plants? We're still learning too, so we'd love to hear about your successes or lessons learned.
2/24/2019 10:09:59 pm
I live in Bandera Texas and have 30 acres. I thought I wanted to try a small lavender field but you make it sound so difficult. 😔
3/1/2019 07:11:27 pm
John & Jane Lavendoe
2/15/2020 09:11:38 pm
My wife & I live just outside of Philadelphia PA in an old farmhouse on an active working farm (corn, livestock)...however, we do not work the farm, we only rent the home. I currently work in sales and my wife is home with our 3 young children. I am looking to get out of the corporate world and start growing something of my own...something our family can cultivate and grow together. We have no farming experience, but love the outdoors and have other experience in business ownership. Also, because we rent our home, we would need to lease or buy the land. I know it’s a lot to consider and probably sounds completely insane, but we have to start somewhere. Any thoughts, ideas, recommendations...greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
MCLITUS, JOSEPH A JR
3/30/2020 05:08:49 pm
Hello, My name is Joe McLitus, Kathleen my partner and I are wanting to start a small lavender farm on 4 acres down here in Prosser, WA. We would greatly appreciate any information such as a business plan that you used to get started yourselves and would be willing to let us use as an example. I am a Navy veteran with limited administrative skills :) We both have farming experience and irrigation background. Just don't know how to write up a business plan for applying for grants to get started. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and have a blessed day. Kathleen & Joe
11/13/2020 08:36:56 am
I love Lavender! I live in North Idaho where there is snow in the winter -- I grow 4 different types. My Lavender does quite well and I always get a lot of flowers, seeds etc each year. I keep jars of seeds and vases of fresh then dried flowers in the house. Some of my Lavender will produce 2Xs during the year but I usually wait until the buds start drying up to cut, prune, etc. ---- I hand weed, but just bought some nursery cloth and plan to start filling in areas of our property with Lavender planted in the nursery cloth to avoid weeding. I also have started growing starters for new plants. ---- We just bought some more acreage and I hope to start planting there too. I apply Lime around the plants in the spring. My plants are almost waist high and spread out from the ball about 2 feet on each side.
3/16/2021 12:00:53 pm
We live in the north west part of Georgia. My husband and I have had permanent jobs along with owning a shaved ice business for 10 years. Both of us are in our 60’s and wanting to be at home more. We own our home on 5 acres. We’ve been looking into lavender farming and trying to research as much as possible first. There are a few other things we’re checking in to as well. Would love to work our land and make a profit doing so. Maybe need to visit a farm before jumping into this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
6/3/2021 06:24:32 am
It's great that you talked about the importance of having a plan when starting a farm. Recently, one of my cousins mentioned he's thinking about purchasing some land and starting a farming business. My cousin loves the countryside and wants to live a wholesome life, so I'll be sure to share this article with him. Thanks for the advice on what to know when creating a farm.
7/17/2022 06:57:53 am
7/18/2022 05:19:06 pm
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Woodstock Lavender Co.
Just a mother & daughter working with our families to bring a different, unique lavender experience to South Central Kentucky. We love the land, we love our farming heritage and we love lavender!