After months and months of reading and researching and preparing the plants finally arrived. I'm a little embarrassed about how excited I got about this. I'm sure the FedEx lady thought I was crazy when I came out to take pictures of the truck and pallet!
We got the plants unloaded and unwrapped the pallet, and got all our little shovels, yardsticks and gloves ready for the next day.
Planting, Day 1:
There it is! Our very first plant, in the ground. The first day it was just 3 of us doing the planting, myself, Jerry and my sister Wendy. We got approximately 300 plants in the ground. They were tiny, but looked happy and healthy. It felt great to finally have some plants in the field! Our system was to put one plant in, and then use a yardstick to measure to the next spot, dig a hole, plant the plant and pull as much dirt up and around it as we could, kind of "fixing" the mounds. (Side note here: The yardsticks seemed like the perfect tool. The plants needed to be exactly 36 inches apart because the drip irrigation hose had emitters every 36 inches. Turned out the yardstick method was NOT the best!). Not knowing yet the mess we were making for Jerry to deal with in a few days, we were feeling pretty happy with our work! Once we had a few rows in, one of us would come along with the garden tractor, a tank of water and a sprayer and water each plant.
Day 2 of planting was basically a rerun of day 1. We had some extra help from family on that day and got about 400 total plants in. We were noticing that the plants from the day before were looking pretty droopy, so decided that on the 3rd day, Jerry would start installing the drip irrigation system so we could get some water on the plants. He had done tons of research on the best way to water the lavender, and taught himself with the help of YouTube how to make a system for our field.
Day 3 was a long one. There were only 2 of us doing the planting, while Jerry installed and worked out the kinks with the drip irrigation. He had run the black plastic drip line from our pump down to the lavender field. At the field he had to split it into 3 sections. This way we could water one section of the field at a time. Since we were sharing a well with our home, we wouldn't have enough pressure to do all the plants at one time. Each row of plants has a line that runs from top to bottom with a small hole every 36 inches where the water comes out. This just slowly soaks the plant at the base without getting the leaves wet.
It turned out that using the yardstick to measure was not working out. There were many, many plants that were off a couple inches one way or another, so they didn't line up with the drip system. If one in the row was off, the rest of them were off, so Jerry had to cut and splice many sections of the drip line so that the holes were next to the plants. This also involved trips to town (20 miles away) to get supplies, etc.
Wendy and I continued planting, and had worked out kind of a system where we would scoot forwards on our butts, pushing dirt in front of us with one foot up into the mound, making them bigger and more stable. It worked great for the mounds, but was pretty painful for us! Every bit of our backs, legs and shoulders were killing us by the 3rd day, but the planting had to be finished. We didn't get quite as many planted this day, but we were over halfway through the field!
Day 4 rolled around and I honestly didn't think I could do it. Everything hurt, and I just didn't want to sit in the dirt anymore. I actually sat and shed a few tears in the field that morning before anyone else was there. After getting that out of my system, we moved on. Wendy was back, (what a trooper, she took a week of vacation and spent the whole week doing this!). The kids all came out as well, so we had 5 planters and Jerry working on the water. The first bunch of plants really had perked up after having the water on them for a couple hours the day before, so we felt like we were on the right track with that. It turned into kind of a fun day with everyone there even though it started out rough.
Final day! My son came out for awhile, but couldn't stay all day, so we finished like we started, with me, Wendy and Jerry in the field. I can't even describe the feeling at having the last plant in. It was amazing!
We have to mention here that Jerry's dad had suggested before we ever started this project that we measure and put flags in the mounds every 36 inches before anyone planted anything. We thought that would be way too time consuming. After finding out how many holes were off ,we decided to try the flags for the last section. This worked like a dream!! All the holes and plants lined up just like they were supposed to. So we had to tell Jim McCabe he was right and we should have listened to him, (and he was sweet enough not to say "I told you so"), and we would have saved tons of time, and money on all the materials for splicing. Guess sometimes you just have to learn things the hard way!
Here is a picture of our first field the final day of planting, looking south. Our beehives are at the south end of the field.