Little Willow Lavender farm is our little piece of paradise located in the rich farming land of the Liverpool Plains Shire North West Slopes & Plains Region of New South Wales.
The land of 7 acres includes our home, work sheds and approximately 1 acre of garden. The soil is amazing on the block, they say babies could grow in it. Many years ago it was used as holding yards for the cattle before transportation on the trains. We later purchased an adjoining block & old station masters cottage (1890) This cottage was named Little Willow, hence Little Willow Lavender.
In the winter of 2014 we ordered 300 Grosso Intermedia and 100 Angustifolia from Victoria. We laid irrigation in preparation but didn’t receive the tubestock until November, It was a heatwave when we started planting. There was such excitement when we saw some growth happening. We tended those little babies day & night, weeding, snipping of any flower buds. We had a great success rate.
We joined The Australian Lavender Growers Association (TALGA) membership. The association has been a great support and information platform. The association holds a conference every year and in March 2019 we were able to attend the conference held in Port Arthur Tasmania where we met and shared our experiences with fellow Lavender farmers from throughout Australia & New Zealand. Little Willow Lavender was also honoured to receive an award at the conference dinner.
December 2015 was out first harvest, harvesting by hand is done at night or early morning in the cool of the day. Not only for comfort but that’s when the oil rises to the flower heads and at its peak. We harvested an average of 3 bunches per plant that first year 100-120 stems per bunch. The following season that doubled and increases each year until maturity. Bunches of lavender are hung to dry for up to 3 to 4 weeks. Once dry the bunches are stripped by hand, then sifted to produce those aromatic lavender buds that are used in our sachets, wheat packs, eye pillows, soaping etc.
With good success of the initial plants we decided to prepare for our second stage of plantings. A “hilton” hothouse was built and over 4000 cuttings were taken of our initial plantings in March 2017. The soil was worked up and we planted in September 2017. No irrigation was laid in this section. All watering was done by hand until the seedlings started to take and were then left to get drinks from natural rainfall when it fell.
Rotary hoeing between the rows deals with most of the weeds and the beds are weeded by hand. These plantings looked great and had a 90% success rate. More cuttings were taken in March 2018 but success wasn’t so great, It was a savage winter in Willow Tree, so dry and when it did rain we got severe frosts, our well went dry, we pretty much gave up on the garden.
The Lavender has thrived.
As we prepare to head into our 2019 harvest, our plan is to harvest each second row for dry buds pre Christmas and allow the remainder plantings to fully mature into January & February for the distilling of our own pure essential oil.
We look forward to this new chapter, the story continues ……………………