Our objective of this four-year project is to field test different heat, drought, and humidity tolerant species and cultivars of lavender in an amended soil mixture within 5" diameter drilled, 28" deep holes. We will document the performance of these plant varieties in the amended soil mixture over the four-year period and provide an exact, repeatable formula. We will also test numerous row cover crops between the lavender rows for soil management. We aim to companion plant these areas, so they have the same heat, drought, and humidity tolerance as the lavender. We would like to research and test multiple row cover crops with advice from Julie McConnell, our Horticulture Extension Agent in Bay County, Florida. We have currently identified three row cover crops we would like to research: Bahiagrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Microclover. Lavender has been grown as a value crop that can benefit small farms in various growing zones throughout the South. The market range for lavender products (direct from harvest and from processed as value added products) is rather extensive. Numerous lavender products include oil, fresh and dried bundles, potpourri, sachets, lotions, culinary products, as well as pet and veterinary products. For lavender growers, the product market can be local and international with direct and website sales. The lavender market can also reach the national level depending on clientele. Lavender farms can also attract agri-tourism. Lavender is native to warm, dry regions in the Mediterranean. Some of the major problems with growing lavender in the Southern region is plant damage due to heat stress, pests, diseases, and overwatering. These types of damage can be devastating to producers as the plant maturity (as with most perennials) does not reach full growth until the 3rd or 4th year and the potential life span of commercial lavender can reach 10-15 years. There is an estimated 15-20% crop loss per year for some farms growing lavender in various soil types with various methods. The importance of finding the ideal growing environment (both soil and climate) and methods for lavender plants (and potential farms) to produce thriving and long-life span plants is tremendous. A secondary problem with lavender is soil and weed management between the crop rows. The lavender is planted six feet apart with plants every two feet down the row. At Southern Grace Lavender Farm, we initially planted into native soil with a no-till auguring technique which provided individualized french drains and soil amendments (limestone, granite stone and garden soil) for each plant. We have seen varying growth levels throughout the field based upon what we now realize is a variable of nutrient-poor sandy soil and lack of beneficial microbes such as mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria in the soil. The lavender growth also varies based upon weed and grass competition from the area between the rows. This weed competition has been the greatest source of expense to the lavender field for hand weeding around the base of each plant.
1. To research multiple soil mixtures as well as different species and cultivars of lavender in comparative trials to identify, through evaluation and testing, the most disease-and pest-resistant, hardiest, and most garden-worthy lavender species and cultivars, and to provide objective, accurate, and reliable information about the cultivars tested for our Southern region to industry professionals and the gardening public. (Years 1-4)
We will accomplish this objective by planting 62 Lavender plants of each of the 20 different heat and humidity tolerant species and cultivars of lavender totaling 1,240 plants within the amended soil mixture and documenting their performance over four years under identical field conditions.
2. To research several cover crops for surrounding soil to match water conditions of lavender and reduce field competition. (Years 1-4)
We will accomplish the cover crop research by planting ten 250ft rows of each of the cover crops so they can be compared side-by-side for their wear and traffic tolerance, weed suppression, drought tolerance, and symbiotic mutualistic relationship with Lavender.
3. To host site visits and publish results of this research and encourage the adoption of best practices for our region to industry professionals and the gardening public. (Years 1-4)
We will host site visits during the process to industry professionals and the gardening public and will publish and discuss the results of this research at the Annual Lavender Festival, US Lavender Conference, and on our website and other associated social media.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our objectives and improve conditions.
Copyright © 2023 Southern Grace Lavender Farm - All Rights Reserved.