The Alderwood Quilts blog is for customers, friends and quilt enthusiasts. . Sue and her husband also own run a small lavender farm along with the quilt shop. You'll see lavender and other gardening topics, as well as knitting, recipes, photos of kids and pets.. and whatever else comes to mind.
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.