Trudi Kasselman is passionate about the healing properties of plants. For many years, it was her dream to grow herbs such as lavender and rosemary at her home on Kasselhoft estate, near Leeudoringstad in North West, distill the essential oils, and produce a range of herbal products. This finally started coming true in 2007 when she and her mother-in-law, Rina Kasselman, following much research and consultation, distilled essential oil from their first harvest of rosemary and lavender. From these beginnings, the enterprise has grown into a sustainable, profitable business.
Rina and her husband, Chris, live on Kasselhoft, while Trudi and her husband, Danie, along with their children, CP and Tehlilla, farm on the adjacent Bona Bona.
The enterprise currently has 10 000 plants of the Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) cultivar, split evenly between the Abriali and Grosso varieties. These are excellent for essential oil production.
“About 4kg of plant material are needed to produce 25ml of essential oil. After distillation, the oil is stored for 25 days before being sent to a laboratory in Gauteng for the production of some of our products,” Trudi explains.
The lavender plants, which are irrigated, require between 300mm and 1 400mm of water per year. They cannot be over irrigated and the soil has to drain properly between irrigations. Well-drained, light, sandy, loam or gravel soils in full sun are best, and the plants prefer a soil pH of between 5,8 and 8,3.
Kasselhoft has 0,5ha grown to lavendar. The plants are spaced between 30cm and 60cm in the row, and has an inter-row spacing of between 1,2m and 2m.
The crop is drip-irrigated, as overhead irrigation can result in diseases and cause older plants to rupture. The plants are harvested twice a year when the lower halves of the flowers start to open. To ensure top-quality essential oil, the harvest must be completed within 10 days.
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