Hemp Gardening in the Hill Country: Part 1

Updated: 16 hours ago

Though we received our hemp license in December of 2020, we didn't start growing hemp until Spring of 2021. And it was a good thing, Texas went through one of its worst freezes that winter. Once the cold weather thawed, we were excited to get our first 8 hemp plants courtesy of Ross Martinez from VJ Farms in Palestine, Texas. It felt really good to work with a Texan hemp farmer who understands the local climate constraints and challenges. Ross attended the Taste of Texas Hemp Cup at our event venue, LaLa Park, and won an award for flower highest in CBG, so I felt confident about his expertise. His most interesting piece of advice was to add "salt" to my soil if the leaves start turning yellow.

The strain that we acquired is called "The Wife" and is well-suited to outdoor weather in central Texas, or so we are hoping. Everything is an experiment at this point in Texas. I immediately planted them in large ceramic and plastic pots containing a mix of organic high loam soil and rich organic compost. I chose high loam soil because it needs to drain easily. Hemp plants don't like their roots to sit in water. The next step was setting up irrigation. Hemp plants are notoriously thirsty. Armed with an irrigation kit from my local nursery, I set it up in about thirty minutes. If you feel intimidated by installing irrigation systems, don't be—IKEA furniture manuals are WAY worse. You got this.

Over the first few weeks, we suffered a caterpillar invasion. Generally, in April thousands of caterpillars and worms descend from the oak trees and coat whatever lies below them in webs. This is a natural event and reflects a healthy ecosystem, but for tender, new hemp plants—it's a different story. I coated the hemp plants in diatomaceous earth and neem oil to protect them from being overwhelmed and thankfully all of them survived. We are dedicated to protecting vital pollinators and only use natural remedies, while simultaneously planting milkweeds to support butterflies.

Our hemp garden at LaLa Park is located inside a fenced area along with our 4 beehives, just beyond our pollinator mural and music stage. The mural protects the bees' flight path to and from a water trough, so guests staying at LaLa Park don't get accidentally stung. Our stage acts as a shady spot to teach guests and friends about the benefits of beekeeping, before venturing into the bee yard for a hive inspection.

I'm so excited to expand and enrich our apiary with these new hemp plants! We've hired a local tattoo artist to paint the beehives this June as well as plan to mulch the ground in order to make it more walkable. Right now, it's typical raw hill country terrain with limestone boulders and rocks jutting out of the ground everywhere. These new hemp plants in our apiary will infuse our honey with CBD and serve as food source for our bees during times of scarcity. Apparently, bees LOVE hemp, and we're out to test the theory!

Stay tuned as we update our bee yard/apiary and continue to nurture our new hemp plants.

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