Besides opening day for our local farmers' markets, nothing screams summer to me like lavender! Lavender is one of my favorite summer plants. The color of its beautiful spikes range from deep purples to light pinks and create dramatic pops of color to the landscape. Its scent wafts by on lazy afternoon breezes and attracts the ever-so-busy bee who knows that these magnificent budding corollas will be gone in a few months.
The first summer after moving to Northern Nevada, we noticed that we had several mature lavender plants on our property. The buzzing of the wild bumblebees as they collected the lavender's pollen got us thinking that maybe we could keep honey bees on the property, a dream my husband had had for several years. That next spring, we began bee keeping. For the next two years, we studied what bees love and how to create a blooming bee-happy garden from early spring to late fall. Lo and behold, lavender was one of the best things to plant to keep the bees happy.
Fast forward to this past spring,...I came across an article on lavender farming while at our local ranch supply store. A-ha! We decided to take a portion of our daughter's riding arena (since she's in college), and turn it into a lavender field. We've since planted 200 tiny lavender plants: from "Grosso," a fragrant and large flowering varietal which is mainly used for sachets and wands, to the prolific bloomer "Provence" and to the English varietal "Hidcote," which will be excellent for culinary lavender. They should all be able to survive our Sierra Nevada winters and provide lasting benefit to our bee colonies.
As we hope to sell fresh bunches of lavender, sachets, wands for fragrance, and packets of culinary lavender at next year's farmers' markets, as well as our honey, we had our state's Department of Agriculture come out to our property. We recently received permits to produce and sell these items. I am beyond excited to become a real lavender and honey farmer!
Stay tuned for more lavender and honey news...