Imagine the smell of a lavender farm…. it is something that will captivate your imagination for all sorts of things!Lavender farms may not be everywhere, but thanks to Long Row Lavender, just west of St. Louis, Missouri, it’s an easy drive for much of middle America. Tracy Smith shares the lessons learned about growing lavender, cooking with it, and bringing the great look and scent into your homes!
Tracy, her husband Chad and their four children started the farm several years ago as a way to spend time together outdoors. They would take things to local farmers markets, etc and eventually decided to build a gift shop. Later a cafe was added and with seating around the farm, it’s become a popular destination. Two of the kids are adults and doing their own thing but all of the family comes together now and then to get projects done, etc.
An ai-generated transcript of the podcast episode on growing lavender is available here.
Tracy tells us there are more than 400 varieties of lavender! Long Row plants several of them but acknowledges they hardly touch the surface. And part of that is because of the location… most lavender varieties like a more temperate climate than Missouri offers.
The hybrid Phenomenal seems to best fit this farm with its slight hills. But they plant several varieties — Monstead is the second variety that does pretty well for Long Row and they try different English Garden types and love showing guest some of the various colors that come with the beautifully fragrant plants. I went out to the farm before the plants were blooming to be sure I could give people a good heads up, but even then I could see some of the differences like with the two varieties I mentioned above.
I love how encouraging Tracy is about having people grow lavender at home. And while it frightened me learning that lavender is related to mint, Tracy says the trait that means mint will spread everywhere isn’t present with lavender. With that in mind, I bought some and have decided to plant it in a pot for the summer. This fall I may find a place to plant it in a flower bed…. fingers crossed it overwinters well. I want to see how much it grows in the coming year.
Tracey said they have been playing with planting times and all at their lavender farm. She laughs saying lavender doesn’t like having wet feet anymore than people do. That is part of the reason I went with the recommendation to have it in a pot this year. so I can be sure it is draining well. The challenge of too much rain has been a problem for Long Row Lavender. In fact, the heavy rains led Long Row to make a number of changes at the farm in the past year and the rows they have planted are shorter. She thinks the rows are still plenty long and there are even more rows.
See, the rows were going north to south, but the hill slopes going east to west. When they had a lot of plants damaged last year, they moved the older plants to raised beds and decided to change the row pattern on the rest of the farm while they replanted. The rows now run east and west and have plastic mulching down to limit the amount of water that soaks in or runs further down to peony beds, etc. that do better with more rain.
If you look closely, you can see different varieties as well as different planting times. Some went in the ground last fall and the winter seems to have treated them quite well Tracy points out.
You can see some of the video we captured while touring the lavender farm in this piece we did for the Grounded by the Farm YouTube channel.
Enjoying Lavender in Many Ways!
Walking through the show you can find all sorts of personal care, home decor and kitchen products that you will want to try (I sure did!) The team at this lavender farm make quite a few of the products in house, and they work with some suppliers on other pieces too. They offer opportunities for people to cut and create their own bundles of lavender. My niece is slowly building up a bouquet at her house… made a few cuttings already and has them hanging to dry! (She is further south.)
The cafe at Long Row offers lunch and hearing some of the things they do made it clear I need to go back when they are open.
- Ever thought of mixing a bit of lavender or herbes de provence (lavender, oregano, marjoam thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, and bay leaf) in on a ham sandwich?
- The idea of lavender chocolate chip cookies was a show stopper! And wow. She’s right. Lavender really compliments chocolate! It’s like mint or salt compliment chocolate.
- And I had to buy the brownie & lemon bread mixes that include lavender for Molly and I both! She loves cooking with lavender so I knew she’d love it since she didn’t have a chance to go. She even wrote a separate post on some of the ways she uses lavender in the kitchen.
I love that Tracy talks about how the family would search for lavender farms online as they were thinking about getting into this.
So often you think of lavender in the English countryside from movies, and the climate there is really better for many types of lavender. That’s why most larger lavender farms are in the Pacific Northwest. But there are lots of smaller farms like Long Row Lavender around the country. And there is even a map of US Lavender Growers who open their farms to the public!
And you can find Long Row Lavender Farm online! You can shop and learn a lot about Long Row on their website longrowlavender.com. The Long Row Lavender Instagram quickly caught my eye, the farm’s Facebook is updated regularly too.
And if you think Long Row is a good destination for you, they are just off Interstate 70. The farm & gift shop are open 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Saturday, and the cafe is open 11 am to 2 pm the same days. You can get dessert and coffee/drinks whenever the gift shop is open.
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