Walking around the farm is such a delight. Here are some pictures from this week (June 19-24, 2017)
We are still waiting for the purple to get here, but it’s coming!
The Farm and the shop are open daily for the 2017 season from 10 am to 4 pm. Bring your guests, family, self! Have a picnic, or just gaze out over the awesome views.
See you here!
In 2009 I went to a Lavender conference in Cambridge, UK and got a chance to visit the amazing Downderry Nursery owned by Simon Charlesworth. He has created the best greenhouse system I’ve seen for propagating and growing lavender. On a scant 2 acres of land they produce about 400 cultivars of lavender for sale. It was inspiring!
They had a special greenhouse just for rooting the cuttings that was held at an even 70º F and the cuttings rooted quite quickly under their care.
Coming home to our greenhouse with its lack of power and electricity, and the lack of means to build what we had seen, we thought about other ways to propagate our lavender. Back in 2002 I had visited a lavender grower in Nyons, France, who taught me that lavender can be propagated right in the ground. While there are problems doing that if you are going to be selling lavender plants commercially because the dirt in your ground isn’t sterile, it’s a great way to propagate for your own uses.
Preparing the beds
The beds need to have level soil so there won’t be puddling when you water them.
Taking the cuttings
When you take off the branch you will see a “heel” from where you gently tore it off the main stem. This is good. Roots grow more easily from that heel.
You can see the leaves that are on the bottom part of the cutting, remove them up about 3/4 of an inch because you don’t want the leaves to be in the soil.
After removing the bottom leaves, you’ll pinch off the top part so the bud that will try to flower won’t be there. You want that cutting to put its energy into building roots not making flowers.
After you have prepared the cutting put it into the Willow Water* you have prepared.
Sticking them and watering
Digging them up and transplanting
About 2 to 3 months later… dig up your plants. The roots will be intertwined, but if you take small clumps at a time, they will stay moist enough to keep the roots viable while you gently pull them apart and pot them up.
Growing lavender is an exercise in patience. It takes 3 years or more for a lavender plant to reach full size, and that is after you’ve got a cutting that has roots. You’ll be taking cuttings in the late spring or early summer (because the soil temperatures are high enough so it will work) and harvesting the rooted plants in the late summer. Then you’ll have to grow them out in pots. If you don’t have a heated greenhouse you’re looking at the next spring before those plants are ready. You have to love this to do it!
by Sarah Richards
*Willow Water! You can use rooting hormone if you want. But, if you are certified organic or trying to be, then you can’t use those hormones, so what to do? Use willow water – We take twigs from our willow trees and put them in water, they stay in that water for the whole cutting season because those twigs will make roots. During that time we will use the water they sit in and replace it with fresh water. You pour off the water in the willow’s bucket, and then put fresh water back in. Take the poured off water and use that for when you are taking cuttings that day. Discard after using it.
Lavender Sommellier, who is a member of the International Perfume Foundation, awarded Lavender Wind Farm two awards for our oils!
It was around 2003 when we first distilled our lavender thanks to a lavender grower about a mile away from us. He had a Newhouse Mini-still that looked pretty big to me! I learned how to work the elaborate system, pay attention to the drops of oils visible in the distillate, and how to time the process to get the best oil I could. He was gracious enough to let me use his system for a couple of years until I was ready to get my own still. I opted for a human-scale still that was a rotating column still made out of 100% copper from Portugal. We now have four of those copper stills – Grandfather still, Papa still, Mama still, and Baby still. (Really, I am such a girl in some ways and Goldilocks has stuck with me.)
For the last two years we have been using Grandfather still, which is a rotating column still about 150 liters in size. It is so big we had to build a platform to get to get high enough to load the lavender. Here is a video of Sarah a few years ago, and then Farm Manager, Sydney, working on a batch.
We harvest the lavender fresh. The column and cap of the still hold about 90 lbs of lavender. From that we get about 18 to 26 ounces of lavender essential oil per batch, depending on the variety that we are distilling. We distill each variety separately.
You can come to the farm and watch us distill the lavender oil during the summer.
Welcome to our Blooming Season Concerts!
These concerts are debuting in 2017 and will replace our festival that we have hosted for 13 years. It’s time for a change. Time for a relaxing experience listening to music, having a picnic, and wandering in the lavender fields.
What happened to the Lavender Festival?
We decided to focus on what we do best – grow lavender and turn it into the great products you have come to love.
Lavender activities are going on everyday during the summer in one form or another. We are open to the public for about 2 1/2 months during which you can watch us harvesting lavender, pick some yourself, learn about stripping the lavender off the stems and cleaning it, watch our distilling process, and simply wander in the fields.
Our community has an awesome Arts and Crafts Festival the 2nd weekend in August that has way more artists to choose from. There are also several Art Tours all year at various times so art is easy to find on Whidbey Island.
Tell me about the concert series!
On five Saturdays there will be a band or single musician who will regale you with songs, music, and stories from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. See the Blooming Season Schedule for who is playing this summer.
During concert Saturday we will still be working on harvesting, processing and distilling lavender. There will be U-Pick available, for you to harvest your own lavender.
There will be sandwiches available (from The Cove Café), as well as our signature cookies and ice cream.
Concert Dates and Performers for 2017
- July 8 – Choro Tomorrow: A group of musicians who play brazilian music — focusing on the beautiful and complex music that is choro.
- July 15 – Trio Nouveau: The lyrical conversation between the Trio Nouveau guitarists and their instruments is creative and amazing.
- July 22 – Wild Man Cooley (They don’t have a website yet! Wild Man Cooley plays a mix of Western Swing from the 1920’s-40’s, mixed with some jazz standards and very early rock tunes. Their upbeat song list is very danceable for all ages – in a style the band has dubbed Northwest Rural Swing. Wild Man Cooley features John Koschnick on Guitar, Peter Keating on banjo, drums, and vocals (simultaneously!), Fran Einterz on string bass, David Howell, vocals and harmonica, Peggy Moe, vocals and accordion, and Rick Castellano, vocals, ukulele, and cornet.
- July 29 – Skinny Tie Jazz: Plays Jazz Standards And Not So Standards!
- August 5 – Triptych: an instrumental group will perform familiar favorites from the big band era of the 30’s-50’s.
This is an awesome pie! Use tart apples like Granny Smith, or the equivalent.
Pastry flour 2 1/2 Cups
Salt 1/2 Tsp
Butter 2/3 Cup (or 1/3 Coconut Oil and 1/3 butter)
Cold Water 6 TBL
You will need a 9″ pie pan.
Making pie crust is an art. You can buy pie frozen pie crusts if you don’t want to take this on, but we’ve learned to do it pretty quickly and it works.
In a food processor put in the flour and salt. The butter (or butter and coconut oil) need to be cold, then cut them into about 1″ pieces and put into food processor and pulse until the flour/butter mixture looks rough, but there aren’t any huge butter chunks. Then add about 5 TBL of cold water and pulse again, you might need another TBL or two more of water until the dough in the food processor is still loose, but will hold together if you try to make a ball out of it.
Roll out 2/3 of the pie dough into a circle and then transfer to the pie plate. Roll out the last 1/3 of the pie dough into a circle (to use after the filling is in).
Apples 8 Cups
Lemon zest 1/2 tsp
Corn starch 2 Tbl
Vanilla 1 tsp
Cardamom 1/3 tsp
Lavender 2 tsp
Sugar 1/2 Cup
Melted butter 1/4 Cup
Cinnamon Sugar 2 tsp
Zest the lemon, toss it with the dry pie filling ingredients. Peel and chop apples and mix them with all the rest of the pie filling ingredients, including the dry ingredients. Fill the pie crust.
Take the circle you have rolled for the top and put it over the whole pie. Cut the outer edge of the dough so that it’s evenly sticking out from the pie pan. Roll the top and bottom of the edges of the pie crust down and crimp with your fingers to make a little designed edge. Cut some holes in the top with either the point of a knife or a fork to make holes for steam to escape while cooking. Put the pie onto a cookie sheet to protect your oven from overflowing.
Cook at 350º for about 1.25 hours – check for golden brown crust. When it’s nice and golden, and there is a hint of bubbling in the pie, or steam coming out, then it’s done. Cool and serve. It’s really good with ice cream – lavender ice cream if you have any. Yum!!
Who doesn’t like a tasty bit of butter, pecans, and sugar? It’s one level better with lavender.
114 g Butter
2 g Lavender Extract
150 g Pastry Flour
23 g Sugar
110 g Ground Pecans
80 g Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 tsp Finely ground Lavender
Preheat oven to 325°
Beat butter until soft, add sugar & blend until creamy, add vanilla.
Measure the pecans, then grind them in a nut grinder, food processor or chop finely with a knife. Stir them into the butter mixture and sift in flour.
Roll the dough into small balls, place balls on greased cookie sheet & bake about 30 minutes.
Roll after cooled in powdered sugar to coat, put them on a plate and watch them disappear.
If you want to store them, they will do well in a sealed container.
* If you don’t already have a scale, get one that also measures grams. Your baking will be ever so much better because you will be able to measure more accurately. Atmospheric conditions affect the volume and weight of ingredients, so using a scale helps make recipes succeed no matter where you are.
But, if you don’t have a scale here are some tips to help translate the weights
Butter – 1/4 lb = 115 g
Pastry Flour – 1 Cup = 106 g
Pecans – 1/8 Cup = 110 g
Extract – 1 tsp = 4.2 g
Sugar – 1 Cup = 200 g
Confectioner’s Sugar – 1 Cup = 125 g
Farming involves so many tasks that you don’t normally associate with farming a crop. At our farm the trees that were planted in 2000 as a wind and visual block had grown to over 20′ tall and were shading the lavender field. They also created a barrier between the two lavender fields.
In an old-fashioned display of extreme neighborliness, our neighbors pitched in to take some of them down. We took down 9 trees, and while it’s sad to take them down, it’s also a farming issue – the lavenders need sun, and these trees have grown more successfully than we had expected. Now they will contribute to the soil through the chips we will create from the limbs, and they will give heat through our burning of the wood. And now, the view between the two lavender fields is more accessible.
Need an exceptional Quiche for a party and aren’t allergic to cooking? This is our secret recipe for a Quiche that is utterly delightful. (Printable Quiche Recipe)
You will need the following ingredients. There are some ingredients that are simply best to measure by weight, so get out your scale or make your best guess. Get your Herbs de Provence from us!
Make your Pie Shell first (see below)
Preheat the oven to 350º
Sauté onions in the butter until tender.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and apple juice. Stir in most of the cheese, Herbs de Provence, bacon, salt, pepper and onions. Pour into pastry shell that you have prepared; sprinkle the top with the cheese you didn’t mix in earlier. If you don’t want a darker color on the top then mix all the cheese in earlier and don’t sprinkle the top with it.
Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Pie Pastry Shell
Making a pie crust doesn’t have to be a huge mystery. But, it does take some basic understanding of what needs to happen to make a good pie crust. The dried ingredients (flour and salt in this case) need to have little bits of fat all through it. The best way to do that is to cut the fat into the dry ingredients, and then add really
cold water (cold to stop the fat from melting) enough so the dough will form into a ball that doesn’t stick too much to your hands.
I use a food processor to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Put the flour & salt into the food processor, then add the butter that you have cut into chunks and pulse it in quick short bursts. When it looks like you’ve got little bits of butter throughout the flour, then you are ready. Add a few Tablespoons of the water and pulse. You want the dough to form little balls, but not one big ball – because if it does that you’ve put in too much water or pulsed it too much. Once it has a lots of little balls, see if you can pack it with your hands into one big ball. If you can you are ready to roll it out into a circle for your pie shell. Get your pie pan near the circle, fold the dough circle in half, and then ease it onto the pan, spread it out. Cut off the uneven bits around the edge. Along the edge, fold the dough under and press with your fingers to make a scalloped design. Voilá! You have a pie shell ready for your Quiche filling