Red fescue. Covering the entire 7 acre field. Talk to any farmer and they will tell you the woes that come along with ridding a field of fescue; but wait, combined with the fescue is…POISON IVY. (burying face in hands and letting out a deep sigh)
We started off by burning the fields. Quite the risk with poison ivy everywhere, but you do what you gotta do. No one ended up with it in their lungs and, other than a few patches of rash on the arms, we fared just fine. We cut the field down first with the brush hog (it was extremely tall since the property had been untended for so long). Next, we called 311 to let them know that the burning would be taking place. The forecast had called for 8-10 mph winds that day so, after waiting around a bit for the wind to die down to the lower end of the projection, we went for it. We used a propane weed torch to start a perimeter. The tool worked like a charm. This was one of my favorite Christmas gifts…I feel pretty bad-ass torching things with abandon like that.
There were some moments of fear due to the way the wind hits our rolling hills, but we had a strong team of experienced “burners” which helped us stay calm when the wind acted unpredictably.
After burning, the prehistoric tiller that we have will be put to use. Soil amendments then follow, which include composted horse manure, additional topsoil, and over 40 TONS of 3/4 in. clean limestone gravel to help with drainage, as well as bring our slightly acidic clay soil to neutral (lavender likes a neutral pH 6-8). We will then create mounded rows which will cut diagonal against the hillside so water will be encouraged to go downhill, but hopefully the plants will not. After that, the weed cloth and irrigation will come in, as well as, gravel and grass to create the pathways and cover the unsightly weed cloth. We have every weekend packed with to-do’s until the big planting day. There’s no turning back now!
After a day of dancing in the flames it was pretty wild to see the finished hill in the cool of the evening and envision rows of lavender in the blackened earth.