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How to plant and grow lavender

Lavender: How to Choose the Right Variety

We are excited to be adding a lavender field this year with a couple hundred plants :). We did quite a bit of research before planting, and wanted to share some tips.and basic info on how to pick the right variety. It really comes down to how you want to use or grow the lavender plant. We chose Grosso and Provence to start, due to their abundant flowers and strong scent. Here is a quick list to help you choose which lavender to plant and grow:

Choosing Your Lavender Variety

Following is a list of suggested lavender varieties to consider and their uses (From the US Lavender Growers Association):

Landscaping:

  • Thumbelina Leigh – small, compact, dark violet flowers, good for containers.
  • Munstead – popular small plant with medium purple flowers, can bloom twice.
  • Hidcote – small with dark bluish purple flowers.
  • Buena Vista – medium sized plant, purple flowers that blooms continuously
  • Folgate – medium bush with light bluish flowers, one of the first to bloom in spring
  • Melissa – medium plant with light pink flowers.
  • Edelweiss – medium plant with white flowers.
  • Royal Velvet – medium plant with dark purple flowers
  • Grosso – large plant with purple flowers
  • Provence – large plant with pale purple flowers

Dried Buds (For Lavender Sachets):

  • Provence (L. x intermedia) – pale buds, some camphor scent, easy to take off stem
  • Grosso (L. x intermedia) – medium purple buds, strong camphor scent
  • Royal Velvet (L. angustifolia) – dark purple bud with sweet scent
  • Buena Vista (L. angustifolia)  – purple buds with nice lavender scent

Culinary Buds:

  • Provence (L. x intermedia) – use for meats and savories
  • Royal Velvet (L. angustifolia) – great flavor and nice dark purple bud, very nice in desserts
  • Betty’s Blue (L. angustifolia) – nice gentle lavender flavor and dark bud
  • Melissa (L. angustifolia) – wonderful flavor in desserts and teas

Crafting:

  • Grosso – nice long stems for lavender wands
  • Folgate (L. angustifolia)  – early blooming, dries dark blue/purple, great for wreaths
  • Royal Velvet (L. angustifolia) – dries dark purple, great for wreaths
  • Buena Vista (L. angustifolia) – dries dark purple, great for wreaths

Fresh Cut/You cut:

  • Folgate – early blooming lavender
  • Most angustifolias bloom earlier than lavandins
  • Buena Vista – blooms several times during the season
  • Grosso – nice long stems, easy to cut

Essential Oil:

  • Grosso (L. x intermedia) – considered the highest oil producing lavender, high camphor content
  • Royal Velvet (L. angustifolia) – sweeter, floral fragrance
  • Super (L. x intermedia) – higher oil producing lavandin with an oil fragrance similar to angustifolias
  • Maillette (L. angustifolia)  – considered the oil standard in France, one of the best angustifolia

As you can see there are too many to enjoy! Follow us for more on this topic.

Gifts for Gardeners

Best Gifts for Gardeners

What are some ideas for gardener gifts?

As a gardener and farmer, there is nothing better that a fantastic garden gift. But with soooo many choices online, and a ton of junk, how do you pick the one that would be the best for your gardener friend or family member? Here is a list of my favorites, hopefully one sounds good to you:

  1. A Gardening Apron – you don’t realize what you are missing until you wear a gardening apron with pockets out in the garden. It’s like bringing your shed with you. If you are like me, I spend more time going back and forth to the garage and shed than I do in the garden. A couple of things to look for: several pockets, waxed canvas, double-stitched apron pockets and adjustable straps.
  2. A Hori Hori – The Japanese garden tool, named with the Japanese term “Hori Hori” which means “dig,dig”, is an amazing friend in the garden. The Hori Hori can be used to dig, weed, cut, scrape and measure. With roots back to the Samurai forges in Japan, this gardening sword will be a favorite for any gardener on your list. You can read up on the features in a quality Hori Hori here: The Best Hori Hori Tool
  3. The Garden Tote – a garden carryall for tools, fertilizer, bulb packs, seeds and more, can be a great partner for the gardener. Our time gardening is limited, and having all you need a foot away can insure your time out there is saved for garden duties.
  4. The Dibber (Dibbler) – having its roots (no pun intended) with the first gardener’s way back in time, a dibber is a tool for making holes in the soil for seeds and bulbs. The handy tool makes quick work for gardening tasks, and modern dibbers are an attractive wood and stainless steel tool any gardener would love.
  5. The Garden Tool Holder – pruners, scissors and clippers, also called gardening sharps, are difficult to carry and can damage standard carriers. A thick and solid leather or heavy canvas tool roll can give any gardener a safe place to store their gardening tools.
  6. Bonsai Scissors/Clippers – garden scissors are an excellent gift for the discerning gardener, and have become quite popular for many reasons. These sharp gardening tools provide many functions out in the garden, and stainless steel scissors will last forever.

So, hopefully this quick list of gardening gift ideas can provide you with the best gift for the gardener in your life (or a gift for yourself).

Garden tool dibber dibble

Just What is a Garden Dibber? (or Dibbler?)

The Garden Tool Used For Centuries

We’ve all used many different things to make holes in the ground for seeds or bulbs. I know I have. Nothing has been off limits: a stick, screwdriver, dowel, shovel handle, and yes, even a finger. But a dibber, also known as a Garden Dibberdibbler or dibble, is a garden tool made for this very purpose. Its first recorded use was back in roman times, usually made from old tool handles, and its design has not really changed.

Dibbers are made of all different types or materials, including wood, metal and plastic. Here are the attributes of a quality dibber in the modern age, and one any gardener would appreciate as a gift:

  • A t-handle for leverage in making deep holes or penetrating hard soil.
  • A stainless metal tip to keep going and going
  • Wood handle for aesthetics
  • Thick wood for a solid grip

I know we use ours on the farm constantly (I just used it for planting Ranunculus and Anemone today), and after a 1000 bulbs, i am thankful for this handy tool. But its not only for planting. Here are all the uses for a dibber:

  • To make holes in soil for seed planting
  • To make holes in soil for bulb planting
  • To break up potted plant roots before planting in the garden
  • To clean dirt from tubers
  • For leverage in propagation with large roots.
  • To aerate the soil around a plant
  • To create deep water holes for plants in hot climates

So now all you have to do is get one, and carry it in your garden tool holder, garden tote or gardening apron.

Old Garden Dibber
Ancient Dibber

Cottage Garden Design Attributes

The Cottage Garden: Planting From Scratch

So, I’ve wanted to build a cottage/English garden for some time now and started a larger project than I anticipated. In doing research I wanted to understand what attributes make up this type of garden, and what features I wanted to include. There are really two main kinds of English Garden: the rolling estate/park and the cottage garden. The rolling estate is lush with broad expanses of green, and has a park feel broken up by “rooms” or areas of diverse planting. The cottage is your typical loose, flowing and colorful garden.

Key Attributes of an English Garden

So here is a collection of English/cottage garden traits I compiled:

  • Abundance – in the garden there is always a feel of slight overgrowth and abundance. Bare spots are not allowed, paths should be slightly crowded with blooms. There needs to be a “full” feeling.
  • Natural – plants should always look like they are in their natural habitat.
  • Weaving – using a variety of plants, vines and containers there should be a woven feel throughout the garden.
  • Variety – there should be a variety of bloom types,, sizes and colors to create a visual texture.
  • Informality – There is always a main theme of informality on the verge of organized chaos.
  • Layers – using height and plant types, there should be a layering of foliage and blooms.

Stay tuned for more on my Cottage Garden project.

Best hori hori garden tool

Hori Hori – The Best Japanese Gardening Tool

The Hori Hori Garden Tool: The Ultimate and Best Tool for Gardeners

We use our Hori Hori tool every day at Celtic Farm, and highly recommend them to friends and customers as the ultimate garden tool. Have you ever been in the garden and need a tool that you did not bring?  The Hori Hori Garden Tool is a barebones implement that can provide many of the functions that avid gardeners require.   This digging tool is often referred to as a garden knife”, “soil knife”  or “weeding knife” and is a true Swiss Army knife for the garden.  The word Hori literally means “to dig “, and Hori Hori is used as a digging sound in the language.   It has a specialized concave blade that is serrated on one side and can be used for the following:
  • weeding in the garden
  • cutting roots
  • removing plants
  • digging
  • measuring depth
  • planting bulbs
  • sod cutting
  • plant propagating through splitting
  • as a hand axe for chopping
  • as a trowel
  • as the all around, ultimate garden tool
How do you find the best hori hori garden tool?  Here are some things to look for when trying to find this ultimate garden tool:
  1. You want to purchase a full tang Hori Hori.  If you are not familiar with the word tang it describes the continuous portion of the blade that extends into the handle of a knife. Why the full tang on your garden knife?  A full tang provides the maximum strength and control when using the hori hori in the garden.  Cheaper knives have minimal extension of the tang into the handle.  YOu can see a full tang hori hori here: <link>
  2. 3 Rivets in Your Hori Hori Handle.  The full tang wont help you if its not securely connected to the wooden handle.  Quality Hori Hori’s will have 3 rivets on the handle.
  3. Stainless Steel Blade.   A stainless steel blade provides the rust proof strength required when using the digging tool in the garden.
  4. Curved, serrated blade.  Make sure the blade has a concave curve, and that the serration is of high quality for optimal use of the tool as a saw and cutting implement in the garden.
  5. Measurement marks. – I find it really handy to have inch marks on the inner part of my hori hori blade.  This is the ultimate tool for planting bulbs in the garden, and makes the ultimate garden tool even better.
  6. Blade length.  The Hori Hori blade should be between 6 and 8 inches, with the handle about the same.  This length gives perfect balance and provides for the one hand, barebones tool performance that makes it such a joy to use.

Want to buy our recommended/best Hori Hori?  Click Below:

Buy Our Hori Hori

 
 

 

 

Lavender Oil Uses

Lavender Oil Uses

Essential Lavender Oil for Health

As we continue to grow and extend our farm, I am really digging into the uses and background of everything we grow.  Lately in the “lab”, I have been experimenting with Lavender Oil in sprays and salves.   The essential oil that is distilled from many of the different lavender varieties is most commonly know for its relaxing and calming effects on the body, both physically and Healing with Lavenderemotionally.  It is also highly known for its skin uses, and can be used to cleanse cuts and scrapes, reduce irritations and can be applied for overall skin health.  Here are 10 ways to use essential lavender oil in your day to day life:
  1. Relaxation – take a few drops of lavender oil and rub it on your palms, wrists, feet or anywhere else on the body.  Deeply inhale several times to draw the calming scent.
  2. Sleep Aid – Lavender’s scent is known to aid sleep, and soothe nerves.  Use a Lavender spray that is part oil, part witch hazel and part water to spray linens and pillows to drift off.
  3. Burns – putting a few drops of oil, or a Lavender Calendula salve on a burn will reduce pain and redness and help in the healing process.
  4. Cuts and Scrapes – Lavender oil and salves can provide a soothing, healing effect.
  5. Laundry – spray your freshly washed towels and clothes to make them fresh throughout the day.
  6. Insect bites – Lavender salves can take away the sting and itch for mosquito bites and bee stings.
  7. Chapped/Dry lips – using oil or salves on dry chapped lips will help them deal and add moisture.
  8. Headaches and Migranes – Lavenders aromatic powers can help alleviate a headache.
  9. Acne – oil and salves of lavender can help reduce acne, and the redness of blemishes.
  10. Slow Aging – there is some dispute, but many experts agree that the antioxidants found in Lavender slow the aging process.
Just a few uses for this amazing plant!
Christmas Cactus Propagation

Christmas Cactus Propagation

How to propagate a Christmas Cactus

The Christmas Cactus, aka Schlumbergera, is grown widely and is loved for its beautiful winter blooms.  The plant makes a great holiday gift for friends and family, and propagating this plant can produce beautiful offspring for giving. Propagating Christmas Cactus is easy, and this succulent variety takes readily to new roots.  See the simple instructions below on how to root your Christmas Cactus cuttings.

Rooting Your Christmas Cactus: Step by Step

  1. First off, you will need to take some cuttings from your parent plant.  Simply take some Y-shaped cuttings from any growing tip, and take at least 3 segments.  You can just pinch off your segments.
  2. Although not required, most horticulturists advise letting these cuttings sit for 1-2 days is a cool, shady place to let the ends callous over.  This can protect the end, prevent rotting and also increase propagation success.
  3. While your cuttings are sitting, prepare a home for them that includes a mixture of peat and sand.
  4. After your cuttings have waited their proper time, dip the ends in rooting hormone, and stick your cactus into the medium.  You should push them about 1/2 a segment into the potting soil.
  5. Water them sparsely, and in 2-3 weeks you should see new growth at the tip.
That’s it!  After about six weeks, transplant your cacti into its final home and watch it grow.  
Changing the color of a hydrangea

Changing Hydrangea Color

How to change the color of your Hydrangea plant

Two years ago we propagated our favorite flower, the Hydrangea.  We wanted to create a variety of bloom colors for our Hydrangea loving customers, and to grab attention at the farmers market.  Well, it worked.  How did we do it? So, unlike most flowers, the lacecap and mophead hydrangeas can changes colors.  Fortunately for us, it is as easy as changing the soil pH.  Hydrangeas are the litmus test in the flower world.  Below are the pH ranges, and resulting colors: Acid Soil (pH less than 6.0)           Blue or Purple-Blue Flowers, Between Alkaline and Acidic (pH between 6 and 7)    Purple of Bluish Pink Flowers, Alkaline Soil (pH greater than 7)    Pink and Red Flowers How can you change the pH?  You can get a pH soil test kit to be exact, but that is not me 😉  I had pink, and wanted blue, so I wanted to lower the pH to create a more acidic environment.  To do this, I added aluminum sulfate (you could also use garden sulfur).  I sprinkled it around my hydrangea beauties, scratched it into the soil, and waited for a big rain.  To raise pH, you can use ground lime.  Use the same technique.  Good luck on changing your Hydrangea color!
Deer and rabbit deterrent

Deer and Rabbit Deterrent: The Invisible Fence

Keeping Deer and Rabbit Out of The Garden

Ok, I know, I know, another post on keeping my garden safe from deer and rabbit.  We live on a very open property in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, and there are quite a few deer families and jack rabbits that roam our property.  I did not want to clog up our view with added fencing, but wanted to make sure I kept the furry critters away from my dahlias and other flowers this year.  In my first post, Homemade Garlic Deer and Rabbit Repellent, I talk about protection for my garden using a garlic, cayenne pepper and egg spray.  This works like a charm, but I wanted to add an additional deer and rabbit fencing as an outer layer of protection.   I came up with an idea to combine fishing line and randomly placed shiny mylar ribbon to create an invisible fence.
Deer repellent

Fishing line and mylar for invisible deer fencing

I bought some wooden stakes at the Home Depot and placed a few screws into the wood at 1′ and 4′.  I put several of the stakes on the perimeter of my lower field to enclose the planting area.  This was the start of my deer fence.  I then took the monofilament fishing line and ran it from stake to stake, looping it around the screws as I walked.
Natural Deer Repellent

Invisible fencing for deer and rabbits

Then, at about 8′ intervals, I tied the mylar strips onto the fishing line.   If you can’t find mylar, just use tinsel, or aluminum foil.  The shiny strips move in the breeze and reflect light at night, and the cautious deer/rabbits avoid the area.  Since placing the deer fence, I have yet to see any deer tracks  in my garden.  Hope this helps!!
Homemade Garlic Deer Repellent

Homemade Deer Repellent

Making Homemade Deer and Rabbit Repellent

Last year I had some plants decimated by deer, and wanted to be proactive and get ahead of the curve.  So I set out to make homemade deer repellent with common household items.  Here is a list of what you will need:
  1.  Peeled garlic cloves
  2. Cayenne Pepper
  3. Eggs
  4. Water
  5. Liquid soap
  6. Food Processor
  7. Boiling Water
  8. Container
So, put the garlic and cayenne pepper in the food processor to start your homemade deer repellent project.  While you are doing this, boil a few cups of water, and prepare your container.  I used an old water jug from the kids soccer days.  Once the garlic and pepper is ground to a pulp for your repellent, put it and eggs (I used 3) into your container.  Whip up the eggs so the yolks break, and pour in the hot water into your repellent base.  Stir the mixture well, and put about 5 drops of liquid soap into the mix.  Cover the container, and shake it to mix.  Let this sit for a few days.   To use your newly made deer repellent, open your container, and be prepared for the stench, and use cheesecloth or a paint filter to fill up a spray bottle about a quarter of the way.  This is highly concentrated, and you can make it go a long way if you dilute it.  Fill the rest of your sprayer with water and shake.  Apply this to your plants, and repel all your furry enemies.  This concoction is also good for: rabbit repellent and grasshopper repellent. Be sure and reapply after the rain!
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