Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Summer with Too Much Rain- UPDATE

Dale and I were in the field yesterday working and we were actually very encouraged! Some of the older plants did not fare well, and perhaps they were on their way out anyway -- and the very wet, cool summer gave them that nudge on out!!! 

We are glad that the summer rains stopped when they did. Happily, the one and two year old plants are still growing strong. The Hidcote and Royal Velvet is doing great and some of those plants are actually in bloom right now!

Our hearts are full of lavender dreams for our Harvest Celebration next June 2014!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Summer with Too Much Rain...

If you live in North Carolina like we do, then you know what an usual summer we have had this year. We are typically faced with drought like conditions and loads of heat & humidity. This year, it has been cooler and wet. I mean VERY, VERY wet.

We, as farmers in North Carolina, know how to deal with a hot summer and fortunately, an established lavender plant really likes a NC summer too. But, this year has been a challenge. 

I've mentioned to several customers that I truly wish we could just pick the entire field of lavender up and let it drain out...thoroughly. But then reality sets back in and I know we have to deal with the situation. And that situation is that plant loss is a fact of life...even plants that we have had and loved for several years. Fortunately, we only lost a few plants and obviously, it will not affect our product offerings, etc. for next year. But, it is definitely more then the usual yearly attrition due to plant age. It is more then we are use to! 

But, what can we do? Well, if you have "lavender survivors", keep the plants well weeded. When any plant has to compete with weeds, it tends to take a toll on the overall health of the plant. It is also fine to could go ahead and trim the dead wood and clean away the spent, gray foliage. Then amend with lime, bone meal, compost (our success planting mix). 

If you have lost one (or more) of your lavender plants this year, the best we can suggest is to dust yourself off and know that it's just part of a gardeners life! We have decided to look at our plant loss situation as an opportunity to redesign the field some. We will fill in with some of our old reliable favorites but we will also try out a few different varieties as well, like the pretty pink Melissa variety.

Fortunately for our beloved customers, we have several varieties of plants READY to ship via our Etsy shop (including the Melissa variety)...just in time for fall planting! 
Check our what we have to offer-
 http://www.etsy.com/shop/sunshinelavenderfarm?section_id=13306598



HAPPY FALL PLANTING!!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lavender Holiday to Provence, France in 2014

Thursday, August 14  to
 Friday, August 22, 2014
(9 Night Tour)


Think of Provence and you think lavender. Timed for August so that we can enjoy the Sault Fete de Lavande, a lavender festival similar to our own on the farm here in North Carolina, we get to have an authentic French lavender experience! 

Lovely villages and vistas under an azure blue sky in the most picturesque countryside you can imagine. This is a unique trip offering up a blend of local sights and flavors. In addition to the lavender fest, how about a wine walk and picnic, goat cheese making, olive oil production, markets, gardens, and more? 

This trip offers the opportunity to travel about for excursions with the group and allows for free time to explore on your own too. Annie Greer Baggett of the farm will participate in her second adventure to Provence and is most excited about the behind-the-scenes visit!

Outline itinerary based in Gordes and including the Sault Fete de Lavande-

Thursday 14 August
Arrive and meet at the hotel in Gordes, Mas des Romarins. Dinner at the hotel together in the evening.

Friday 15 August
Sault Fete de la Lavande – all day excursion.

Saturday 16 August
Free in the morning. In the afternoon visit the Moulin du Clos de Jeannon olive oil mill and the Lavender Museum.

Sunday 17 August
Isle sur la Sorgue market. Free afternoon.

Monday 18 August
In the morning visit the Gardens of Salagon, an ethnological museum and gardens supported by Occitane with various different gardens illustrating the different types of provencal plants. In the afternoon, visit the Fromagerie de Banon in the hills of Haute Provence for an explanation of goats cheese production and tasting.

Tuesday 19 August
Gordes market in the morning. In the afternoon visit Roussillon village and also if you wish, a guided visit of the Conservatoire des Ocres for an explanation of ochre production and its use as an artists material. Those who prefer could take a self guided walk in the countryside around Roussillon (1 hour 40 minutes).

Wednesday 20 August
Half day guided wine walk and picnic in the Cotes du Rhone (1 hour scenic drive from Gordes). A gentle stroll in the Dentelles hills with wine tasting picnic.

Thursday 21 August
Free morning. In the afternoon visit pretty Lourmarin village in the south Luberon with its interesting Chateau and Ferme de Gerbaud for a guided visit and tasting dinner. The Ferme de Gerbaud is an organic herb growing farm. The dishes served for dinner are all made with locally grown, seasonal produce, cooked according to traditional Proven├žal recipes.

Friday 22 August
Free day – optional visit to Avignon by taxi or optional spa visit for relaxation treatment (located in Mane, approx 45 minutes drive from Gordes, products used are Occitane).

Saturday 23 August
Depart


The cost includes:
  • Accommodation in the Hotel les Romarins, a friendly 3-star hotel based on people sharing a twin or double room. Breakfast is included each day. The hotel is just outside the lovely perched village of Gordes, is walkable into the village and has its own pool and garden for relaxing. All rooms have private facilities.
  • Transport for all the group excursions in air conditioned vehicle.
  • Dinner in the hotel on 5 evenings during your stay (the hotel has given us a special rate including the 5 dinners).
  • Guided vineyard visit with tastings of Cotes du Rhone wines including tasting lunch with wine at the Restaurant Les Florets in Gigondas (if the weather is not too hot and the group prefers, we can choose to change to the stroll and wine tasting picnic nearer the time).
  • Entrance fees to the Lavender Museum, Salagon Gardens, Fromagerie de Banon, Conservatoire des Ochres Roussillon, Lourmarin Chateau, Ferme de Gerbaud guided visit, Ferme de Gerbaud tasting supper.
  • Tour accompaniment on 18 and 21 August.
  • Real Provence holiday planning and the tour arrangements.

Not included in the cost:
  • All air travel and taxi transfers to and from your arrival/departure point in Provence.
  • Taxi transport for the optional excursions.
  • Meals except those detailed above.
  • Drinks with the included hotel dinners.
  • Drinks and telephone calls in the hotel including mini bar.
  • Entrance fees to the optional visits.

CALL FOR BOOKING FORMS (919) 732-5533.
SPACE HOLDING DEPOSIT DUE OCTOBER 25, 2013.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Banana Nut Bread...Now with a Hint of Lavender

My hubby LOVES a good banana nut bread...yes, he does! I found an extra delicious recipe online (dense and moist) and wanted to make it as a treat for an extra busy weekend. But, how can you own a lavender farm and not want to put lavender into everything? The answer- add a dash of lavender to everything. Please enjoy!


INGREDIENTS-
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon ground lavender buds
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (grind using a mortar and pestle)

DIRECTIONS-

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray 8 1⁄2 by 4 1⁄2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, ground lavender buds and salt together in large bowl.
  • Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup liquid).
  • Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1⁄4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth.
  • Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
  • Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes.

It was delicious, by the way!!



The original recipe (sans lavender) can be found here-http://courtneyoutloud.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/recipe-better-banana-nut-bread/