Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's all harvested- now to get it all dried!

We finished harvesting the lavender last weekend.  My goal was to get it all in before we turned the page on the calendar to August!  OK... so I turned the page on August 2nd.  It would have been better to get the last of it cut a week earlier but there are only so many hours in a day... and my days never seem to have enough hours.  Our little farm of 300 plants yielded us 1500 bundles this year.  It's the third harvest for most of these plants and we were VERY pleased! 

I wanted to show you how we cut the lavender.  We use sickles, which are half - moon shaped knives.  We grab a bunch with one hand and use a sweeping motion with the sickle to slice it.  Gotta love sickles!

Whatever didn't sell as fresh bundles ended up being dried.  DH hung long chains from the ceiling of the old horse stall in the back of the barn.  We secure the bundles with rubber bands when we harvest.  Then we twist paper clips open (so they look like an "S") and hook one end of the paper clip into the rubber band and one end into a chain link.  They hang upside down and we hook them in a spiral fashion to give them maximum air flow.  Each chain can hold about 50 bundles.  We also have fans going in there.  It's very humid with all of that fresh cut lavender.  People often say how wonderful it must smell!  Honestly- I can hardly smell it any more.  My nose has been bombarded with lavender for so long that I can't smell the lavender.  I smell other things just fine.... just not lavender.

Even though I can't smell the lavender, when we take the buds off, there is quite a bit of "dust" kicked up.  I start sneezing and get a runny nose.  I'm not allergic to it... it's just a matter of all that particulate matter in the air.  So this part is best done outside.  We pull the dried lavender off the chains.  The trays they are in have screen bottoms for air flow, and to sift out the very fine particles.  This photo is showing about a  hundred bundles.

DH sets up the canopy and a few tables for me and I just enjoy being outside while I play with my purple bounty.

To claim just the buds, I rub the dried bundles between my hands.  They just fall off!  Then we sift them twice and bag em' up to sell on the website.  We use them for lavender dryer bags, sachets, sell to people for wedding toss and bulk for crafting.  There ARE commercial machines that shake the buds off and sift them, but our operation isn't large enough to justify that expense.  As long as we keep the farm to this size, the old fashioned hands- on method is just fine.  I do have some local friends who like to come play with me for a day here an there and it makes the work go faster.

I have the buds off of most of the dried bundles- about 300 bundles still hanging to dry.  It's been a very good harvest and very rewarding to see so many nice quality buds for our efforts.


Lynne4444 said...

Great photos. Wonderful to learn more about your process.

soggibottom said...

Really interesting post.
How good to find some things haven't moved onto machines. Old way still has got to be one of the nicest.
x x x

Micki said...

I enjoyed seeing the whole process. The lavender must smell heavenly!

Diane H said...

Thanks very much, Sue. You may not be able to smell it anymore but you must be about the 'calmest' person on the planet!

Judy S. said...

Wow, that's a whole lot of lavender! And it makes my one small plant look quite puny. LOL You must have the perfect climate for it.

Karen said...

I love the info and great pictures. I adore lavender, love the smell and to have it in my home. I didn't know you could use it in the dryer, new to me. Thanks.

SewCalGal said...

I know this is a lot of work, but it still sounds like so much fun. I'd love to live near you and help. And beautiful photos too (greeting card quality).

How do you know when the time is right to cut & dry vs admire?


QuiltSue said...

Thanks for showing how you harvest it and deal with it. I can almost smell it from here. I love the smell, but my six lille plants aren't going to give a harvest like that this year!

Nancy said...

I am sitting here just enjoying the scent of lavender. No, I know that our computers can't send out smells but I'm enjoying the memory of lavender. Thanks for the memory.

Maggey and Jim said...

Love the beautiful pictures.. I can smell it from here in the midwest. I have 2 small patches and I use it in my moth deterent.. Also in sachets..

Rosa Robichaud said...

Okay.... you know your "Lavender Farm" button, to the right? That's not "clickable", is it?

I had hoped that I could go visit your web site that sells lavender... and can't seem to find it.

BTW... I DO love that picture of you and the lavender, in your arms! *GRIN*

Makes me smile everytime I look at it... 'cause it looks like you're enjoying yourself! *VBG*


Michelle May said...

Oh I can just smell that heavenly scent now. Fabulous!

Romi said...

Wow. How wonderful! I've always wanted a lavender farm! :sigh: :)

Александра said...

I so like lavender!!

Vanessa said...

OMG what I would give for Lavender~! WOW~! I might have to talk hubby into letting me plant some along the tree line hee hee where would I find seeds? I have seen plants but I want seeds so I can plant them in a little thing in the house so my girls can grow then :) don't you just LOVE lavender :)

Nancy said...

I just discovered you (from Ravelry) and HAD to seek out your post on lavender harvesting. I have grown lavender in my California yard for years, harvesting it and using it to make sachets. I enjoyed reading about your process.

Now, we are in the process of preparing to move up to Oregon. We are building a house in Damascus, and I am so happy to read about your lavender farm. I expect to plant a few lavender plants of my own again, and it looks like the Oregon climate is even better than the SF Bay Area for lavender!

Are you planning to attend Sock Summit this summer? I will be there, and our new house should also be ready at about that time. I am so looking forward to returning to Oregon. (We used to live there, and are now returning to retire.)