Lavender Variety Selection and Soap Making Win for the President’s Day Weekend.

We’ve worked out our first plot arrangement now and selected our first varieties. I’ve picked a variety of sizes and types to see what’s going to do the best for us.  Fixer and I like to hedge our bets so we’re planning on some intermedia varieties as well as angustifolia.  I’ve picked some larger plants that I expect to grow in more of a hedge-type habit and hopefully they will be sturdy enough to form a bit of a windbreak for some of the smaller plants.  Some of the varieties are recommended for oil, some for buds, some for sachets or culinary applications.

Lavender can take up to two or three years to mature and yield well which means that I’ve got some waiting time ahead of me. The plants themselves generally have a productive life of about 10 years. Accordingly, the plan is to plant in flights so that we don’t end up replacing all the plants at the same time.

I hope that after this first flight of a bit less than 600 plants in April, we can continue to plant additional starts periodically throughout the spring and possibly again in September. I learned a hard lesson a couple of years ago about procrastination and growing.  Even if the weather is good, lavender doesn’t do well if you wait until late October to get a plant in the ground.  Lavender is sturdy, but not that sturdy.  Lesson learned.

The idea is that by planting early in the spring, the plants will have enough time to establish a strong root system while the weather is relatively mild.

It appears that we may be sourcing our starts from another grower who is local to us. You can’t beat reduced shipping charges, right? I visited Trinidad Lavender on Saturday and spent some time talking with Scott.  Check out his website here.

Check back for more details on variety selection and the particular varieties we’ve selected.

Getting ready for planting, we had another tree pruning, weed gathering, brush pile bonfire with the neighborhood. The fact is I think we’re surrounded by a bunch of firebugs.  I tell you, I’ve gathered nary a branch. I come out from feeding the baby and the whole crew is standing around a big ball of fire drinking beer and making fun of each other, which is fine with me, but I’m beginning to suspect they think I’m dead wood for not dragging brush with them. Could be true…but it’s also too cold to have the Lilliputian hanging around outside. I guess I owe them all a nice dinner.

Burning bush

On another note, I found myself with a magic, child-free day today when I have President’s Day off and my lovely daycare provider is open.  So what’s a girl to do with a magic extra day to herself? Go grocery shopping? I think not. I made soap.  Squeeee!

Sunday’s batch of pear fragrance soap was a train wreck, with bad color, poor separation and seizing.  Ugh. Even after CPOP in the oven, it got worse instead of better. Lesson learned: buy your fragrance oil from reputable sources with lots of customer support.  Thanks to my trusty friends at Soaper’s Retreat, I retreated, regrouped and this morning bent that darn fragrance oil to my will.  More water, slower mixing, lower temperature, more olive oil and less coconut. Here’s what I got,  nine bars of lovely, single color, mica sprinkled pear smelling goodness.

Pear with gold mica

Encouraged, and still with several child-free hours before me, I decided to blend a different recipe.  This one used shea butter, brazilian purple clay, apricot freesia frangrance and some castor oil, with a little mica on top for sparkle.

purple clay and mica

The batter was a little looser than I hoped, so the texture on the top wasn’t exactly what I wanted but I got to try a funnel pour, it wasn’t grainy like that mess from Sunday evening and it has the pretty mica so I think overall the weekend soaping is a win. It’s hard to see the different colors in this photo, but I’m hopeful since the base recipe is my test bar from Soap in my Mouth. I can’t wait to cut it.  Soaps are expected to be available on the Bucklepenny Etsy shop at the end of March.

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