Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lavender Holiday Open House- SAVE THE DATE

Lavender Holiday Celebration at the Farm
Saturday, December 8, 2012
9:30 am ~ 4:30 pm
Come celebrate the season . . .
in the comfort and tranquility
of the farm house. Enjoy a cup of
 lavender hot chocolate and
nibble warm lavender baked goods
fresh from our 1953 Wedgewood oven,
courtesy of The Farm Fairy bakers.

Garden inspired wreaths, ornaments,
hand sewn sachets, honey, pottery, and so much more ~
all created for the Lavender Holiday Open House.
Come and find stocking stuffers, gifts for the teachers, hostesses, friends, family, gardeners, foodies
and even yourself!

Our farm is open ONLY twice a year ...
Please look for your exclusive RSVP link soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time to Prune the Lavender!

It's that time again...time to prune the lavender! As mentioned many times before, there are two times a year that are appropriate to give your lavender a nice trim- end of October (around Halloween) or middle of February (around Valentines day). So, if you are prepared, now is TIME!

I have extracted a portion of an article written for the 'Virginia Gardener' that clearly outlines the steps to pruning and feeding your beloved lavender plants.

How to Plant and Care for Lavender in the Southeast
by Annie Greer Baggett - posted 04/18/11

Pruning In our region, pruning can happen in a number of ways, and this is good since it is sometimes a challenge to remember what every plant requires in the garden. You may wish to trim the lavender when you cut the blooms to enjoy indoors in June. As you are cutting the blossoms, just give the lavender a good shaping, trimming away stragglers running along the ground and dead limbs. Leave about 1 to 2 inches of foliage all the way around.

I have been taught to prune in late fall as well, and this is fine if you are in tune with your garden and the microclimate of your planting zone. Clearly, when our summers are especially hot and dry, trimming the lavender in late fall can shock the plants, so you will want to wait until late winter, after the garden has experienced regular moisture and is dormant. Around Valentine's Day, or at least in the month of February, after the coldest part of the winter is behind the garden, trim away 1/3 of the foliage. Remember the rule of thumb and leave 1 to 2 inches of foliage all the way around.

It is critical to prune lavender annually to provide the best scenario for a long, happy life in the garden. If the lavender is not trimmed every year, the plant will open up from its center weighed down by the foliage. The heaviness of the branches will cause the main center stem to split and/or break and moisture to enter, resulting in stress and disease, and unfortunately the lavender will not be long for that great compost heap in the sky.

When pruning annually, toss a handful of the bone meal/lime/compost blend around the base of the plant just before rain, or water afterwards. This is the only feeding needed. Remember, that lavender prefers lean soil.

It's just that simple!

The picture above shows a 12 year old lavender plant that has essentially been neglected except for it's annual trim. This grandmother lavender is one of the oldest on our farm. She is happily still going strong!

Are you planning on trimming your lavender in the next few weeks? We would love to see some before and after pictures...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Basil & Lavender Breakfast Strata

While reviewing books last week for the blog, I once again became engrossed in the fascinating recipes that Jennifer Vasich provided in her lovely book, 'The Lavender Gourmet- Culinary Recipes for Entertaining and Every Day'. I decided it would be fun to go through the book and do provide a "cook and review" here on the blog.

There is no better place to start then with what some describe as the most important meal of the day...Ms. Vasich described this strata as a family favorite that can be easily prepared the night before and then popped into the oven in the AM for a lovely family breakfast.

Basil & Lavender Breakfast Strata

  • 1 pkg (8 oz) ground turkey sausage
  • 6 eggs
  • 7 slices of day old bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) low fat cream cheese, melted
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen asparagus, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped OR 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp culinary lavender buds
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
In a large skillet, brown the sausage, drain and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients, along with the sausage and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into a well- buttered 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the strata, uncovered at 350F for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes approximately 6 to 8 servings.

My family and I loved this breakfast strata and will definitely be adding it to our list of repeat recipes! The lavender added a very interesting note and even our picky eater enjoyed it. I also served a fresh fruit salad and piping hot coffee...DELICIOUS!

(recipe from page 60 of 'The Lavender Gourmet- Culinary Recipes for Entertaining and Every Day' by Jennifer Vasich)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Giveaway Winner

Drum roll please...and the Fall giveaway winner is...Elizabeth!! (insert tons of applause)

Congratulations Ms. Elizabeth!!! I have given your email address to my assistant. She will contact you personally for your mailing address.

If you didn't win, please don't be sad. Make sure to visit this blog often. Our goal is to sponsor a giveaway at least once a month.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

P.S. The chickens really didn't need to be in this blog post...they just wanted to say HELLO!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We LOVE to Read Books on Lavender

I LOVE books...lots of books. I love books on crafting, cooking, gardening, home keeping and beautiful living.


Sadly (or maybe happily if you are a book lover as well), these pictures only show about 1/4 of the total number of books we own as a family.  It shouldn't be shocking at all that in my collection of books, I have multiple books on the subject of 'lavender'. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorites...some old, some new.

The first is 'The Lavender Garden' by Robert Kourik. The author is a landscape consultant and garden writer and this can be seen clearly within the chapters on 'The Botany of Lavender' and 'Planting and Cultivating Lavenders'. There are also a few basic lavender crafts and recipes in the back.

My next favorite is 'The Scented Lavender Book' by Lois Vickers. This is a beautifully illustrated book from Norfolk Lavender Ltd in England. This particular farm has often been described as the home of English Lavender. Due to the large lavender oil distillery located on the grounds of this farm, the book contains a very interesting and large section on 'The Essential Oil'. There are also several sweetly illustrated lavender craft ideas.

The third book I love in my collection is 'The Lavender Gourmet:Culinary Recipes for Entertaining and Every Day' by Jennifer Vasich. This is one of my newer books. The title says it all...this is one of the most comprehensive books on cooking with lavender that Ive ever read. It includes chapters on 'Breakfast & Brunch', 'Appetizers, Vegetables & Sides', 'Salsa, Salads & Dressings', etc. I'm talking 309 pages FULL of yummy and very interesting recipes.

The final book Ive picked for review today is 'Lavender: Fragrance of Provence' by Hans Silvester. The dedication at the beginning of this book says it all- "This book is dedicated to the farmers of Provence who, by their toil, have beautified the land". This is a bit of statistical data in regards to where and how much lavender is grown in Provence and several sweet poems but the reason I love this book is the breath taking Provence lavender field photographs broken up by season. So beautiful!!

If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, make sure to see the amazon link that I have added to each title.

Do you have any lavender books you love? Please share them with me!

Friday, October 12, 2012

FUN Fall Giveaway!

It's been a rough week. One of my kids has some mysterious allergic reaction all over her body. We have been to the doctor twice in four days and received very little information about what it could be and the best way to treat her. Believe me, she is VERY vocal about how uncomfortable she is...

One of the diagnosis is dermatitis due to mites (YUCK, I know). So, I have spend several hours EVERY DAY changing beds, washing sheets, vacuuming the whole house and preparing soothing baths. Not such a bad time of year to be doing all these things as I do love to clean the house from top to bottom at the change of a season! Makes everything seem so fresh and helps me feel ready to conquer what lies ahead. Maybe you feel the same way?

I was definitely hoping so...

In honor of fall and all the cleaning up it brings, our newest giveaway is HERE.

We are giving away a 32 oz size of our very own, Sunshine Lavender Farm "Lavender Laundry Booster". Use it to naturally scent and boost your laundry detergent. Add 1/2 cup along with either liquid or powder laundry detergent for super cleaning power with a fresh lavender fragrance. Nice exclusively for sheets, towels and everyday washing. It is so yummy!

To win this awesome giveaway, please leave a comment indicating your favorite thing about fall...I will randomly pick a winner next Friday October 19th at 6:00 PM EST.

Just a note, another one of my FAVORITE things to do in fall is to make a fresh pot of soup. In between cleaning and folding and surviving this morning, I made a HUGE pot of "Garlicky White Bean Soup with Dark Greens". I found the recipe on Pinterest earlier this week...can I get a shout out in regards to the AWESOMENESS that is Pinterest?? YAY!!

If you are interested, here is the recipe link- Garlicky White Bean Soup with Dark Greens. ENJOY!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Planting Lavender This Fall?

Please visit us soon at one of the farmers markets or events listed in the right sidebar of this blog OR in the events section of our website- Here you can purchase plants directly from us! We are offering several varieties of lavender including Grosso, Silver Anouk, Provence, Munstead, French Fringe, etc. Since we are offering plants again this weekend, we thought it would be nice to brush up on planting information & techniques.

Our native clay soil and humid conditions are a challenge for lavender. Select a garden location with full sun and take the following steps to help you successfully grow this delightful herb.
  • Requires well-drained soils. Raised beds and containers work well too.
  • Sandy, sandy/loam or gravelly.
  • Low fertility.
  • Soil pH – 6.5 – 7.5
 If lavender is grown in a container, the temperature will be 15 colder than if it is planted in the ground. With this in mind, winter protection is needed. It will be best outdoors by burying the pot, covering the pot with burlap, straw or some other protective covering. Locate the potted lavender on the southwestern side of a structure to capture maximum sun and warmth during the coldest months. Tucked close to a building will allow it to stay warm. A corner is a good spot so that it is protected from winter winds. Lavender does not enjoy being an indoor plant since it can rarely get enough sun to satisfy it. If you do not have a spot as described and need to bring it in during the winter, just be sure to locate it in a sunny, warm window. You may take it outdoors on those gifts of days when it is sunny with balmy temperatures. By the time spring arrives, it should green up and do just fine.
Soil Preparation-
  • Create an 18-24" mound with well cultivated soil.
  • Using a trowel, dig a hole just deep enough for the plant.
  • Place 2 heaping handfuls of 1" round stone, ½ cup total of equal parts of bone meal, lime and well composted manure in the bottom of hole and mix well. The stone will allow the soil drain well, the lime improve the pH, bone meal and compost for a healthy.
  • Water your lavender well in its nursery pot and let it sit for an hour or more before planting.
  • Prune the top of the plant to ensure a nice bushy, productive plant.
  • Remove all planting material from root, so plant will be placed in the ground bare root.
  • Place plant just above the blend of stone/lime/bone meal/compost, not allowing the roots to touch the blend and gather soil around base of plant.
  • Space plants 36" for good air circulation since they will grow quickly and fill in the space.
  • Trim first year buds.
Lavender blooms at its peak in its third year producing about 1000 stems.
  • Herbs thrive on neglect once established. Care for young lavender as you would any new perennial. When well rooted, lavender is tolerant of heat and dry spells. Water if there is a drought. Over watering leads to root rot which will cause lavender to die.
  • Prevent weeds by mulching with a light colored mulch like coarse sand, gravel or oyster shells. The sun will reflect light, keeping the plants dry and help deter disease and enhance bloom and oil production.
  • Toss a handful of bone meal/lime/compost blend around base of plant in the fall just before rain or water afterward.
The lavender varieties that grow well in our area will bloom from about Memorial Day to July 4th. So, look forward to summer and when your lavender blooms, sit back, breathe in its fresh delightful scent and enjoy!
Fall is an EXCELLENT time to plant lavender!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Farm to Stable-
Sunset Harvest Supper & Benefit at the
North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center
Celebrate community! On 28-acres of Mebane rural beauty, enjoy fall bounty from farm neighbors and engage as we share our life-changing work.
The NC Therapeutic Riding Center hosts a farm-to-fork dinner and therapeutic riding horse show on
Sunday, October 7, 2012.
Watch the sun sink over this tranquil farm, in partnership with
Executive Chef, Adam Rose of Il Palio at The Siena in Chapel Hill.
Join us for a Sunset Harvest Supper for 100 guests, from 5 - 9 pm.

In the farm house, gather around the table with friends to dine
on expertly prepared
tastes of the season.

Get more information and your seat at the table by clicking this link:
Special thanks to our farm neighbors for their generous donations.
Bushy Tail Farm . Cooper-Lasley Farm . Cozi Farm
Dancing Pines Farm . Four Leaf Farm . T-5 Farms . The Farm Fairy
Participate in a fun version of a Silent Auction. Bid on experiences. How about a horseback riding lesson and trail ride with our certified equine therapists after a farm-style breakfast on the NCTRC farm OR a
"lavender-ific" dinner for four hosted at Sunshine Lavender Farm?
Culinary competition team students from Alamance Community College contribute their time and energy to assist Chef Rose.
With local entertainer and musician Millard Woodard, get your ring-side spot to see our riders, horses, volunteers and instructors at their creative best.
Celebrate community and support a local nonprofit! $100 plate, with 2 wine and beer tickets. Cash bar.
Proceeds support our mission to empower children and adults with disabilities through equine assisted activities and therapy.
Put on your boots and bow ties and we will see you on Sunday, October 7th!