High Summer at Hauser Creek Farm: Reflections on Lavender Season

At this point in the year, I can say that we've had a great lavender season. While fresh stems are basically done with, I've been busy lately with bud work. Rainfall has been scarce the last two months, and I'm thankful that lavender is drought-tolerant. So far, I have resisted the urge to irrigate. Lessons learned about harvest include the realization that next year I will need to employ additional help. I'm wondering if a "crop mob" scenario might work. Like most crops, lavender is time-sensitive. I am indebted to my mother, who spent countless hours on the barn porch bundling lavender. Always on the lookout for an opportunity to learn, she was excited to participate in the task, and she seemed pleased that in eight decades it was her first time helping with a lavender harvest. My mom noted that lavender smells better than tobacco, which she helped harvest during her youth.  

I'm pretty excited about our new, homegrown, naturally-sweetened loose tea blend. This past spring I acquired a stevia plant. I wasn't too familiar with stevia, the plant, but was curious because it's commonly known as "sugar plant." I've discovered that it truly is sweet! I've seen the little packages of stevia in the supermarket and take issue with the words "all natural" on the label. Clearly, the white powdery stevia is processed and the ingredients list includes stevia extract, among other things. While I'm usually a stickler for unsweetened tea, many people prefer some sweetness so I decided to add stevia leaves to my herbal tea blend. All the herbs were carefully snipped right off the farm and dried in my kitchen. This Saturday, we'll have the loose tea, along with dried bundles and more, at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. Come visit!  



Tea meets lavender and 2012 resolutions

Happy New Year! We are ringing in 2012 with our first home-grown tea blend with lavender and hints of peppermint and orange zest. Come springtime I'll have it available at the farmers market. Actually, the word infusion is a more accurate description than tea since our blend doesn't contain tea at all. Infusions can be a single herb or a blend of herbs. I have become a fan. Sure, I'm biased toward lavender but the novelty of a tea ball (see the photo) and experimenting with different herbs from the garden has been fun. The flavor is refreshing, and something about a hot cup of tea on a cool morning is comforting. I suppose it's my cold weather lavender therapy.

Long a staple in the South, my family drank sweet iced tea in abundance when I was growing up. My mother makes the world's best sweet tea. So, call me a convert. Now, I like my tea hot and straight up (no sugar or additives required).  

On the farm, the lavender plants, just over 600 at this writing, are tucked in and appear to be happy. It has been a mild winter so far and that makes us happy, too. This year I'll be adding to the vegetable garden. I have doubled the space and lately have been hauling in composted straw by the wheelbarrow. I expect to be at the farmers market more often in 2012, and we hope to have a farm dinner this summer around lavender bloom time. Stay tuned for more on this.

Give me a call if you want to drop by for a visit this month...I'd love to offer you some darned good (hot) tea! May your new year be prosperous.