List of Utah Flower Farmers

Looking for a Utah flower farmer?

I generated this list with the help of the Utah Cut Flower Farms Association and the USU Urban and Small Farms Extension Specialist Dr. Melanie Stock. This list will evolve as more growers pop up, so please message me or comment if I am missing anyone (must have the farm name, location and website or social page to be included).

Cut Flower Growers in Utah

  1. Save the Bees Flower Co
  2. Sego Lily Flower Farm
  3. Wasatch Blooms
  4. Poppin’ Blossoms
  5. White Cottage Flower Farm
  6. S & K Blossoms
  7. Apiana Blooms
  8. Country Blooms Farm
  9. Red Acre Farm
  10. Sweet Pea Farm and Orchard
  11. Black Bear Flowers
  12. Paradise Valley Orchard / Florage Flower Farming Co-Op
  13. Paisley Flower Farm/ Florage Flower Farming Co-Op
  14. Stonehouse Dahlias
  15. Local Roots Flower Farm
  16. Happy Trowels Flower Farm
  17. Copper Moose Farm Flowers
  18. Three Sprouts Flower Farm
  19. Flourish Flower Market
  20. Better Food Farm
  21. Chateau Monette Flower Farm
  22. Growing Moon Beams
  23. Iron Clay Flower Farm
  24. Jessica’s Fresh Flowers
  25. Lily + Juniper Blooms & Designs

Note: I know I am missing some people on this list. Some farmers simply do not have a website or business social media page, which would make contacting them or finding them online next to impossible. Please let me know who I missed and tell me the business name, location and a link to a social media page or website. Thanks!

 

 

When to Plant Cut Flowers in Utah

The bipolar weather here in Utah makes it hard to feel confident about planting schedules.

One day it seems as if we are on the verge of spring, the temps are mild, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. The next day it is a white-out blizzard and we are scraping an inch of ice off the car windshields.

This weather messes with my mind and I start second guessing my planting schedule, before firmly reminding myself not to jump the gun.

Knowing when to start planting depends on two things: your frost dates and the hardiness of the plant or crop.

First, Google your first and last frost dates and mark them in your calendar.

Next, you will need to identify if the crop is a cool hardy annual, tender annual or perennial.

Identifying a plant’s hardiness is as simple as giving it a quick Google.

Below you will find my planting schedule for cut flowers. Remember that the planting dates are for direct seeding or planting transplants. If you want to transplant a cool hardy plant in March, then you need to start it indoors about 6 weeks sooner in February.

*Note: Some varieties prefer to be direct seeded into the garden and others do better as transplants. Read up on your specific plant to know which it prefers.

When to Plant Cut Flowers in Utah (based on the Lehi area):

Hardy Annuals: 

Cool hardy annuals are the plants that can handle the freeze and shake it off. In fact, many of these plants prefer a long cool establishment period to grow a robust root system and will produce more abundantly as a result.

These cool hardy plants are planted either in the fall (if they overwinter in your zone) or 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost date.

I transplant or directly seed hardy annuals in the fall 6 weeks before my first frost date. For Lehi that is around October 26th, so I plant mid September. If I miss that window (or want to plant a succession crop to extend the harvest) then I plant 6-8 weeks before my last frost date. My last frost is around April 22nd so I aim to plant around mid to late March. Below are some of the hardy annuals I plant at these times in my zone 7 climate:

Snapdragons

Icelandic Poppies

Orlaya

Bupluerum

Foxglove

Bee Balm

Delphinium

Larkspur

Queen Anne’s Lace

Honeywort

Pincushion

Stock (late winter planting only)

*Note: Flower Farmers also plant annual bulbs/corms in the fall (these cannot be planted in late winter unless you buy pre-chilled bulbs), such as tulips or ranunculus (in my zone ranuncs need overwintering protection in a low tunnel). Certain perennials also do best planted in the fall such as peonies or daffodils.

Tender Annuals:

Tender annual plants will not tolerate a freeze and must be planted after the danger of frost has passed.

I transplant or directly seed my tender annuals around Mothers’ Day (mid May), just to be safe. Most of these can continue to be planted in successions throughout about mid July (to know for sure, you must look at the “days to maturity” on the seed packet and count back that number from your first fall frost date). Below are some of the tender annuals I plant in my zone 7 climate:

Sunflowers

Zinnias

Amaranth

Cosmos

Dahlias

Ornamental Grasses (bunny tails, frosted explosion etc.)

*Note: Dahlias are a tuber crop that are planted at the same time as the tender annuals because they do not tolerate a freeze in my zone. In milder regions, the can be overwintered.

Perennials:

Perennials are pretty simple. You plant them when the ground is not frozen. However, certain perennials like peonies or daffodils perform best when fall planted.

I hope you noticed that most cut flowers are actually planted as hardy annuals in the fall. I like to call fall the “second spring” for most of Utah.

Mastering hardy annuals in the fall is key to an abundant spring cut flower harvest in Utah!

Of course, some growers have taken it a step further and use season extension devices to plant at earlier times. I use a low tunnel (think mini greenhouse) to overwinter ranunculus and anemones.

I also use frost cloth tunnels to plant some of the semi-hardy annuals under (these are hardy annuals that just need a smidgen of winter protection to perform better come spring).

If you are interested in companion planting fruits/vegetables then I recommend looking at this planting guide. (That guide also touches on micro climates to consider.)

For cool hardy plants specifically, I recommend reading Lisa Ziegler’s book Cool Flowers.

If this guide was useful to you then please leave me a comment below and share! I would love to hear from you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Tips from the Temple Square Gardeners

When I first started my Utah flower farm, Save the Bees Flower Co, I tried hunting down local gardening experts that could tell me more about growing field-to-vase blooms.

There are tons of books on flower farming and gardening in general, but nothing beats finding a local expert with the same growing conditions.

Two places came to mind immediately: Salt Lake City’s Temple Square and the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point.

I live in Lehi so contacting the master gardener at Ashton Gardens was relatively simple. However, hunting down the Temple Square master gardener proved more difficult. Unexpectedly, a routine trip to the library solved my problem!

It turns out there was a book written by a few of the Temple Square gardeners a few years ago called, “Temple Square Gardening.” This book is golden for local growers with very specific tips related to our Utah soils, weeds and pest challenges.

I also realized that I KNEW one of the authors! I literally exclaimed, “Hey I know her!” before remembering I was in a library. #shhhhhhh

My flower farming friend Shelly Zollinger never mentioned working on Temple Square or co-writing a BOOK about it. After picking her brain some more and devouring the book, I took away three main tips that you can read below.

Photo by Devin Justesen on Unsplash

3 Tips from the Temple Square Gardeners:

1. Take advantage of hardy annuals: Hardy annuals are not a new gardening concept, but one often overlooked by the home gardener or new flower farmer. A hardy annual is basically a flower you can plant in the fall and it will overwinter in the garden and bloom better and earlier in spring. This is extremely useful in our Utah climate, because our spring jumps right into the heat of summer.

“Over the years the Temple Square gardening staff has “invented” spring-blooming gardens for Utah…waiting until the soil dries out in the spring before planting pansies and other spring flowers means that by the time they finally become established, it’s almost time to take them out.”

The temple square gardeners plant the bulk of their gorgeous spring blooms in fall. (I also loved that the “Temple Square Gardening” book lists all the plants and flowers used as hardy annuals on Temple Square!)

I feel like people are intimidated by the idea of winter gardening, but it really is quite simple and it uses a lot less water (which is a big bonus in our state). I wrote a whole post on my experience with hardy annuals and winter gardening in Utah that you can read here. (For flower farming I recommend Lisa Ziegler’s Cool Flowers book too.)

2. Soil prep is the key to success: Again, this concept was not new to me, but I loved how the gardeners broke down Utah’s soil strengths and weaknesses and explained how it all fit together. The Temple Square gardens are routinely soil tested, amended and tilled to a depth of 8-10 inches.

“Adding organic matter is the easiest and best way to improve your soil….Soil texture dramatically affects the availability of plant nutrients….Amending sand or clay soils with organic matter improves nutrient-holding capacity. Soil pH also effects the ability of plants to absorb nutrients.”

The Temple Square gardeners identify Utelite as one of their “secrets” to creating better texture in their heavy clay soil. And unlike compost, Zollinger noted that you can add up to 50 percent Utelite to soil without worrying. (Apparently, Utelite is something you can find at most nurseries, but I was unaware of its existence until now!)

3. Take a natural approach to pest and weed control: “The earth was cursed to bring forth thistles and weeds, and that happens in the Temple Square gardens just as it does in your garden…For most weeds, prevention, rather than warfare, is the best control.”

You can prevent weeds by avoiding questionable top soils, using soil amendments that are fully composted correctly and catching weeds before they drop seed.

The grounds workers also noted that nature does not tolerate bare ground and weeds will quickly move in to your blank spots. They suggest beating the weeds by crowding them out with a canopy of flowers. “Where your plants flourish, weeds are not nearly as likely to grow.”

Temple Square gardeners use IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Basically, they maintain healthy plants that are naturally more disease and pest resistant and maintain pest population at an acceptable level. They do this by planting the right plants at the right time into amended soil, using good fertilizer and irrigation practices, encouraging a healthy ecosystem with beneficial insects etc.

They rely first on organic controls like hand picking or organic oils, but will also use chemical controls like Bt or soap sprays when necessary.

I do most of the same things, but I liked the added tip to plant a variety of plants. That way if something falls pray to pests or disease, your garden is not all lost.

Pin this image to save these tips!

What I found the most insightful, was that the gardeners design everything in a simple and natural style so it points back to the Creator rather than themselves. I’ve heard that they will literally toss a handful of tulip bulbs in the garden and let them land where they may.

It takes 34 full time gardeners, 30 seasonal gardeners, help from over 80 Church service missionaries and a thousand volunteers each spring and fall (for initial planting) to maintain the Temple Square gardens.

So the next time you see a grounds worker at the Temple, thank them for all their hard work! Maybe even volunteer to help!

If you have your own questions about growing a flower garden, feel free to subscribe to my Cut Flower Garden newsletter. I was pretty frustrated when I first started flower farming and had to hunt for good sources about specialty cut blooms in Utah. (Most gardeners gave me the side eye when I asked about stem length and vase life rather than heirloom tomatoes or water-wise landscaping.)

However, I am now a budding urban flower farmer in Lehi harvesting from over 1800 plants right in my yard using high density farming practices! I am happy to share my knowledge with those that want to create a little piece of heaven in their garden and enjoy fresh blooms on their table all season long.

Happy Gardening!

Maria

Winter Gardening in Utah

Winter gardening did not sound appealing to me at first. I thought it would be cold and miserable. I. hate. being. cold.

However, I gave winter gardening a shot this year and it turns out winter gardening is very low maintenance! I now prefer it to summer gardening. (I know how crazy that sounds.)

Winter gardening can be done with a low tunnel or without. Either way you can get a jump on the growing season, while using less water and spending less time weeding or fighting pests. (I sound less crazy now right?!)

I have a few overwintered crops in my space right now. Some that need the low tunnel and some that do not.

A good pair of boots while gardening is a must!

First, lets talk about low tunnel winter gardening.

Eliot Coleman, an innovator in the gardening world, designed the low tunnel to act as a cost effective unheated mini greenhouse for home gardeners. Originally, the idea was to overwinter cold hardy food crops, but flower farmers also use the low tunnel to overwinter flowers.

I have a low tunnel over the crops that are not hardy to my zone, but still prefer a cool establishment period (ranunculus and anemone). I am in zone 7, but my ranunculus are only hardy to zone 8 (a tiny bit more mild than my zone). The tunnel provides just enough protection to keep my ground from freezing and killing the ranunculus, but still allows them to get the long cool establishment period they prefer. Picky things.

Caring for my low tunnel crop is simpler than I thought it would be. I just vent my low tunnel on warm sunny winter days and if the weather stays above 28F for three consecutive days I water a little bit. However, that has only happened once and I don’t expect it to happen more than 3 times all winter. In general, the low tunnel provides adequate humidity.

I also have winter crops that do not require a low tunnel. These are known as hardy annuals (snapdragons, bupleurum, poppies, etc.) and also include the fall planted bulbs/tubers that are hardy to my zone (tulips, daffodils, peonies etc.).

These overwintered crops are so low maintenance, because winter snow takes care of most watering needs and the plants are dormant (meaning they are not in a very active growing stage).

This means the plants just need a dry fertilizer sprinkled in the fall during planting and it will slow feed them all winter.

Note that hardy annual seeds should be started mid summer and bulbs/tubers/corms are started in the fall.

As for pests, I did have a neighborhood kitty that wanted to dig in my rows, but I laid down bird netting over the soil and haven’t noticed problems since. (I am grateful for our neighborhood mouser, but don’t like working around kitty poop.) So far, I have not noticed any of the typical spring or summer garden pests munching on my plants.

The final key to easy winter gardening is to suppress weeds early on so you don’t have to weed in the snow and mud.

I use burned landscape fabric in my low tunnel and have not needed to weed yet.

In the rows I struggled a bit with weeds around the hardy annual plants, but that could have easily been prevented with some mulch or more landscape fabric. (I haven’t noticed any weeds in my bulb rows yet.)

Thanks to my winter garden, I will have MORE robust crops earlier, using LESS water and spending LESS time to care for them. In our dry Utah climate, I consider that a big win!

If I have convinced you to try winter gardening and you would like to make your own low tunnel for food crops or blooms, then follow this awesome tutorial by Bare Mountain Farm. 

My low tunnel cost about $250 to construct with parts from Home Depot and Amazon. I have 6 mil UV treated greenhouse plastic over tunnel and AG19 frost cloth inside.

Even if you don’t need a low tunnel for your crops (if you stick with hardy annuals and bulbs that grow in your zone), I would have a frost cloth on hand for extra cold snaps. If you know temps are dropping below freezing, I would toss a frost blanket over your crops just to be safe.

One last note, if you are interested in winter gardening for cut flowers I would read Lisa Zeigler’s Cool Flowers book. I have a copy on my bookshelf that I reference constantly.

And of course, winter gardening would not be complete without some late winter seed starting! Read up on my best tips for indoor seed starting here. 

If you have additional questions or want to share your winter gardening experiences, please leave me a comment below.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting Tulips for Cut Flower Production

Planting tulips for the cutting garden or floral work is different than planting for the landscape.

Flower farmers have perfected planting tulips so they get taller and bloom earlier. There are even certain tulip varieties flower farmers will plant known as “doubles” that look almost like peonies.

Below you will find my simple guide to planting tulips for cut flower production.

When to Plant:

In my 6b/7 climate, tulips should be planted in the fall. I planted mine at the end of October, but you could plant into late November. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you should be ok.

Where to Source the Bulbs:

Typically, you will want to start shopping for tulips in store in October. However, for farming varieties, you might want to shop from another farmer online starting in the summer.

Floret Farm sells out fast, but has beautiful options for home gardeners who don’t have the space (or resale tax-number) to buy in bulk. Here are some of Erin’s favorites for cut flower production.

I source my bulbs from Fred Gloeckner thanks to my re-sale tax number. I highly recommend going through the process to register your business to get the wholesale discounts as soon as possible.

Prep the Soil:

Before my tulips arrive, I make sure my soil is prepped. This means double digging or tilling my rows. I add about 3 inches of fine compost PLUS a dry organic fertilizer. I follow the Floret Flower recommendation and use Nature’s Intent (7-2-4) mix.

“We…sprinkle a generous dusting of a high quality organic fertilizer at a rate of 1.5 lbs/10 linear feet (or) 10.5 lbs per 70 foot long row….which is made from natural ingredients including bone meal, cottonseed meal, feather meal, kelp meal and rock powders.” (Erin at Floret Flower)

That dry organic fertilizer will feed your bulbs all winter.

Once the bed is prepped, it is time to plant!

 

Photo Credit: Floret Flower Farm

Plant the Tulips:

If you are wanting tulips for the landscape, you generally plant a few bulbs together in clumps for splashes of color.

When you plant for a cutting garden or for flower production, you typically dig a trench in one long row. I plant in 4 ft by 30 ft rows.

I start by digging a 6 inch trench down my row.

Then I place the bulbs (pointy side up) in my trench like eggs in a carton. This will encourage the stems to stretch towards the sun resulting in taller stems.

Now, Floret Farm proceeds to water their tulips before covering them again. However, I am working in very different soil. My soil is clay, meaning it hold onto the water.

I chose to forego the watering process because I didn’t want my bulbs to rot. At this moment, my bulbs are enjoying a nice slow drink thanks to the foot of snow that fell, so i have no worries about them getting enough water this winter.

Come spring, I will start watering the tulips regularly.

Photo Credit: Floret Flower Farm

Harvesting Tulips:

When it is time to harvest your tulips, you will harvest in the “colored bud stage.” They are not fully open, but are showing color.

You can either pull the whole bulb out (the bulb continues to feed the bloom for a longer shelf life until sold) OR you can leave two sets of leaves on the stem (which will continue to store nutrients for perennializing the bulbs).

I have done some reading on perennializing the bulbs or multiplying them and it sounds tricky. Often the bulbs rot, are eaten or have less appealing blooms the following year.

Flower Farmers typically re-plant new bulbs every year to get the best blooms for cut flower production.

However, I am really hoping to become self-sustaining and learn how to produce my own tulip bulbs someday.

Vase Life of Tulips:

Tulips are known to last a little over a week. Funny enough, they also tend to KEEP GROWING taller after being cut. How cool is that?

Tulip stems also have a tendency to curve post harvest so keeping them straight for the first few hours is important.

Happy Gardening!

If you have additional questions, let me know in the comments. I am happy to help. 

 

Growing Ranunculus and Anemones in Zone 7: Pre-sprouting & Overwintering

I have big dreams of growing ranunculus here in my zone 6b/7 climate. Ranunculus are my all time favorite flower and even though they don’t typically overwinter in my zone, I am determined to give it a shot.

The tricky thing about ranunculus is that they are cool season flowers, but they don’t tolerate freezing temperatures.

Here in Utah County we get temperature extremes of freezing cold to boiling hot, even within one day. Our spring doesn’t last long before the temperatures jump up meaning our growing window for ranunculus is very short (especially if you have plant them late winter/early spring).

This doesn’t allow a lot of time to get a harvestable crop from the ranunculus. (Same goes for anemones which have similar grow conditions.)

After quite a bit of research, I’ve discovered some flower farmers that grow ranunculus in zone 7 by planting in the fall and providing overwinter protection from the cold.

Being an urban flower farmer, my options are pretty limited. Ideally, a minimally heated hoop tunnel would be my first choice for overwintering the ranunculus. However, that is just not feasible in my suburban grow space.

Instead, I will be constructing a low tunnel for overwintering the ranunculus and anemones (a much more affordable and space conscious alternative to a hoop house). I am building a mix between this farmer and this farmer.

The cost of a four foot by thirty foot low tunnel is around $200. Add that to the cost of my ranunculus corms and anemones (around $225 for 500 corms) and you get quite the costly gamble. Therefore, I will be planting half my corms this fall and half in the late winter/early spring to compare results.

Plus praying for a mild winter.

Where to source corms?

If you are growing for market, I highly recommend getting your corms from a wholesaler for cost effectiveness. I ordered all my corms from Gloeckner. (They sell out so be sure to check their purchasing calendar to get your order in at the right time. I ordered mine in the summer.)

Side note: If you want to order just a few for some beauty in the garden, then I would order from Easy to Grow Bulbs online and I would actually just plant in the late winter/early spring rather than overwintering. 

Before ordering, I researched the different varieties of ranunculus to know which ranunculus series and variety would be the most hardy for my zone. Some series and varieties are less cold tolerant or don’t get tall enough stems for cut flowers.

After a lot of research, I found that most flower farmers in similar conditions found the La Belle ranunculus series to be the best option.

Now, different colors within a series also have different grow results. Some color varieties within a series are more productive than others. With that in mind, I decided to put most of my investment in the La Belle Champagne variety. I will also be planting smaller amounts of La Belle Whites and La Belle Salmon.

Finally, you will want to consider the size of corms. Knowing that I am asking a lot of my ranunculus to overwinter in a zone that they are not fond of and knowing I want them for market production (meaning I want the max number of stems as tall as possible), I chose the largest size corms (5/7 ).

The same process applied when ordering anemones for overwintering. My research pointed to the Galilee series of anemones in their largest corm size. I particularly wanted to grow the black and white (or panda) variety.

Unfortunately, Gloeckner canceled my order of the galilee series due to a crop shortage and subbed the Marianne series in the panda variety. I was super bummed, but hopefully, this Marianne series performs ok.

What to COnsider Before the Pre-SprouT?

Knowing my corms were scheduled for delivery the first week of October, I quickly began gathering everything I would need for pre-sprouting.

Pre-soaked vs dry ranunculus corm.

Below is a list of the materials I gathered:

  1. A pre-sprouting medium (half peat moss & half perlite – I got two large bags for mixing from Home Depot)
  2. A tub for mixing the medium and some tubs for planting the corms for pre-sprouting (I found some kitter litter-sized tubs from Walmart)
  3. Misting bottle for keeping the pre-sprouting medium slightly damp during the pre-sprouting process
  4. Mesh bags for the pre-soak (sourced from the dollar store)
  5. A clean bucket for the pre-soak
  6. Electronic temperature gauge to make sure the corms stayed as close to 50 degrees as possible (sourced from Home Depot)
  7. Waterproof labels to place in the mesh bags during the pre-soak and in the tubs during pre-sprouting

Some growers use different types of potting soil mixes for the pre-sprout medium, but after a bit of research I decided to go with my half and half mix of peat moss and perlite. Vermiculite is listed as an acceptable medium as well and potting soil.

pre-sprouting-mix-for-ranunculus
Mixing peat moss and perlite.

I chose not to do an anti-fungal soak in favor of keeping the process as simple and affordable as possible.

My next big consideration was where I was going to pre-sprout my corms. Ideally, the corms should be kept as close to 50 degrees fahrenheit as possible, but I did not have a root cellar or basement like all the other flower farmers seemed to have.

I considered keeping the corms in an extra bathroom with the heating vent blocked and the window cracked, but when I tested it out, the house heat seemed to kick on more frequently.

I ended up deciding that my partially insulated garage was the next best thing. (The walls and garage door are insulated, but we have not gotten to the rafters yet.) I am hoping this environment isn’t too cold since my corms will rot if they freeze.

I need this to work out as it is my only option…our garage tends to be about ten degrees warmer than the outside temperatures. Unfortunately, while our fall days tend to be around mid fifties, the nights are dipping down to 27 degrees. As an extra precaution, I placed a small space heater in the garage that should kick on if the temperature drops too far. (I hate the added expense of doing that, but the pre-sprout process should only take ten days.)

Corms tucked in garage.

The Pre-Sprout Process:

  1. Pre-soak: When my corms arrived I unpacked them and inspected them for any signs of rot or mold. Everything looked great so I started placing the corms in their respective mesh bags with waterproof labels. I filled my bucket with cool to room temperature water and placed the bags of corms inside, making sure all the corms were submerged. I then placed the bucket in a bathroom tub with the water trickling to allow air flow. I left my corms soaking for three hours which was plenty of time for them to plump up without risking rotting them.
  2. Prepping the medium: While the corms are soaking, you can prep the pre-sprouting medium and work station. I had a fold out table set up in my garage. I got out my large tub and mixed one bucket or peat moss with one bucket of perlite (one-to-one ratio). The best way to do this is with your hands so you can break up any big chunks of the peat moss and discard any large twigs. (This is a great time to include your little helpers that love getting their hands in the “dirt.”) Once it was all mixed, I used a watering can to sprinkle water on the medium until it was slightly damp but not saturated like you would with seed startingThe best way to do this is to add water gradually. Set the medium aside and prep your pre-sprout tubs (I used a black sharpie to mark the inches on my tubs for easy measuring). Make sure all your materials are pre-cleaned because you don’t want to introduce fungus or bacteria.
  3. Planting the corms for pre-sprouting: Once your three hour soak is complete, bring your corms to your prepped workstation. I let my corms drip dry by pulling the mesh bags out of the water and placing them on my table. Drip dry does not mean you should wait until the corms are actually dry, just get them out of the water and let the excess water drip off. To plant the corms in the tubs for pre-sprouting, you will be layering the growing medium with the corms like a lasagna. Start with a one inch layer of the growing medium on the bottom of the tub, then a layer of corms (just spread out the corms so they are close but not touching). Then cover the corms with another inch of the growing medium (don’t press the medium down). Repeat this process until your corms are all planted or tubs are full. I kept my varieties in separate tubs and placed the waterproof labels inside. Once the corms were all tucked in for pre-sprouting, I placed them on a shelf in my garage with the lids partially off to allow air. Every day I check on the corms to (1) make sure no mice got inside, (2) no mold is growing from a rotted corm that needs removed, and (3) that the growing medium is still damp. If the medium seems dry, I have been using a misting spray bottle to re-dampen it. I am hoping for a lovely batch of pre-sprouted ranunculus and anemone corms after ten days! 

Update: My corms sprouted after 14 days (they took a few extra days because my garage was chilly). I had outstanding germination on the La Belle Champagne. Only one was rotted out of 100. I was really worried that my corms were too dry or osmething because I saw nothing happening. Then suddenly boom! They all sprouted out of no where. The anemones had no rot, but had pretty low sprouting in comparison (around 60 percent). I would probably soak the anemones twice as long next year. I planted all of them anyway since I saw no rot.

pre-sprout-ranunculus
pre-sprouted ranunculus
pre-sprout-anemone
pre-sprouted anemone

While I am waiting for the corms to pre-sprout, I am prepping the outside area for planting. This involves double digging my row, getting a quick soil sample, fertilizing/amending the soil, and building my low tunnel.

My tulips, daffodils and peonies should be arriving for planting this week too, plus my dahlia tubers are ready and waiting to be dug up for storing. It is a bit overwhelming!

Stay tuned for the second part of overwintering ranunculus and anemones. I will also be sharing my process for constructing my low tunnel and planting my other fall planted bulbs.

If you like incredibly detailed instructions (like me) then keep following along here or on my Instagram. Both flower farmers and hobby gardeners are welcome!

 

 

 

 

The Art of Pinching to Increase Harvest

Want to triple your harvest of cut flowers? Then you need to learn the art of pinching.

Pinching is nicer way of saying “hack off the top of your healthy young plants.” Basically, you wait until your young plants are 8-12 inches tall then cut them down by 3-4 inches.

Whyyyyyyyyyyy?!

I didn’t want to do it either. You know how long I waited to get my plants that tall?!

Here are THREE reasons to pinch young plants:

  1. Pinching encourages branching. So instead of that single snapdragon stem, your plant will make 3-4 usable stems.
  2. Pinching encourages taller stems for cutting. Taller stems are better for floral design work.
  3. Pinching increases the amount of usable stems. This relates to plants that get really beefy stems that are too thick to use in floral design arrangements. Pinching those monsters (think dahlias) will result in more stems that are ALSO a more reasonable thickness.

Even with all those reasons to pinch, I was still scared to do it. It feels very counter-intuitive to behead your young healthy plant babies.

However, I forced myself to do it on at least half my snapdragons to observe the results for myself.

My non-pinched snaps bloomed weeks sooner than the pinched stems, but my pinched plants have triple the amount of stems per plant.

Do note that you do NOT want to pinch a single stem blooming plant like your typical sunflower or stock.

Reserve pinching for branching varieties such as; snapdragons, dahlias, sweet peas, zinnias etc.

Erinn from Floret Farm has an awesome free video tutorial that shows how to pinch some of the common cut flower garden varieties. Check it out here.

As always, thanks for stopping by my little website. I spend days putting together posts that will help you have an abundant cutting garden or farm of your own. I am usually being crawled all over by my two rascally kids as I write and edit my posts. I’m also usually keeping said kids from eating dirt while I get some photos of the grow space. You can probably relate to the struggle! If you found this post useful, please comment below. It is encouraging to hear from you and it gives my website a boost on the Google search engines! I hope you will follow along on Instagram where I bear my soul on all the struggles and successes related to growing cut flowers. Happy Flower Farming!

5 Vase Life Hacks for Your Locally Grown Flowers

Your locally grown cut flowers are a little different in the vase than your grocery store bouquets.

They are not bred for shipping across seas. This means your local blooms will  smell wonderful and last longer….IF you treat them like locally grown flowers.

What?! I demand flowers with minimal effort! I know, but unfortunately this is reality. And in reality, flowers are living things that need food, water and some TLC.

Here are 5 Vase Life Hacks for your Locally Grown Flowers:

  1. Keep the water clean enough: How clean you ask? If you wouldn’t drink out of the vase yourself, then don’t let your flowers! Why? Flowers are drinking that water up the stems and the tiniest debris can clog the stem. Think of it like a tiny coffee straw, but smaller. Wash your vases and buckets (if you are harvesting) before every use. Then check your vase regularly to be sure it stays that clean and FULL. Fun fact: Overseas blooms are bred to drink less water so they survive shipping. Your local blooms will drink a LOT more water and you will need to keep an eye on it.
  2. Give your flowers a haircut and condition: If you just bought local flowers, then recut the bottom inch or two of the stem and strip any leaves off that will sit below the water line. Flowers will benefit from having the bottom 2/3 of their stem leaf free. It will allow the plant to focus more energy on keeping that bloom healthy and hydrated. Don’t play with your flowers until you condition them! Put them in a cool, clean vase of water (with flower food) out of direct sunlight for a few hours first. They have been through a lot and need time to bounce back before you start arranging them and moving them around. Mess with your flowers before they get enough TLC and you will notice blooms and leaves falling off.
  3. Feed them: I wondered if feeding flowers those little packets was really necessary. Does it really help? Yes. Yes it does. This thrifty gal now uses flower food religiously. Your plants cannot survive on water alone. They used to be rooted into the richest of soil that provided a constant supply of nutrients. They are now on a major diet that is limited to flower food packets. Feed your flowers and you will lengthen their vase life PLUS the flower food packets keep the water clean! Without the flower food, you will be changing the water every day to keep it clean enough. Dirty water = bacteria. Bacteria = dead flowers. I ask nicely for a flower food packet while grocery shopping and the kind employees always give me a handful. You can also buy them in bulk on Amazon.
  4. Don’t roast your flowers: This should be a duh, but unfortunately, it needs to be said. Don’t leave your flowers in a hot car (or hot window). Crank that AC up and place your flowers out of direct sunlight for the ride home. If your blooms do wilt, don’t give up! I have had blooms look totally limp that I brought back to vitality. Recut the stem an inch or two, place in boiling water for a few seconds and then place in cool water with flower food for a few hours. Its like magic watching a limp “dead” flower rehydrate into a beautiful straight stem. “Have you ever made anything happen? Anything you couldn’t explain when you were angry or scared?” #potterhead
  5. Harvest with good habits: If you are harvesting from your own garden, do so during the coolest part of the day (early morning or late evening). Flowers cut in the hot part of the day will wilt. Also learn when the best harvestable stage is for each flower variety. Some blooms stop dead in their tracks once cut, while others continue to open. Harvest with a clean bucket of water on hand if you will be out for a long time. Some flowers even need the ends seared in boiling water before they are set in cool water to condition. Other flowers like Daffodils leak a sap that is poisonous to other flowers and will need to rest for a few hours before mixing with other varieties. And still other flowers with woody stems (like lilacs) need a vertical cut up the stem post harvest. Learn a little more about your flowers and their individual quirks so you can set them up for success in the vase. Always harvest with clean, sharp shears so you don’t blunt their stems (making it harder for them to drink up water and flower food). As you harvest, clean 2/3 of the leaves off the stem. This will save the flower the effort of keeping all those leaves hydrated and instead it can focus more energy on the bloom. After harvest, bring them inside and let them rest in a cool place outside of direct sunlight before you play with them. It is also a good idea to boost them with some flower food after the trauma of being cut.

As always, each post is a labor of love and the result of hours, sometimes days, of work. I would love it if you commented below. I like hearing from you (and knowing someone is out there), plus it boosts my website in the Google servers. Happy Flower Farming!

5 Reasons Flowers Are Good for Mental Health

Did you know flowers are good for your your mental health?

Some months ago, a friend posted a picture of flowers someone had anonymously left her with the caption, “Every time I walk in the kitchen, I remember someone loves me.”

I think of that story whenever someone says cut flowers are not worth the money “because they die.”

As I start my journey as a flower farmer, I wanted to nail down exactly why people buy flowers or why they should buy flowers.

So I did a little digging and it turns out several studies have been done on the connection between flowers and mental health.

Here are 5 Mental Health Benefits of Flowers:

  1. Flowers ease recovery of hospital patients: Research shows that patients recovering in the hospital benefit from fresh flowers in their room. Patients were less likely to need additional pain medication, they also had less anxiety and feelings of fatigue. The same study also noted better blood pressure readings and heart rates thanks to the bedside blooms.
  2. Flowers have a long-lasting impact on happiness: “One study reported that 80% of people who received flowers had a positive change to their mood that lasted for days.” So not only, are you making someone’s day by giving them flowers, you are making their whole week. And yes, the flowers will fade, but the memory will last forever. That doesn’t mean you have to wait to receive flowers to enjoy the benefits of improved mood. Another “study showed that when frequently exposed to flowers, people reported lower levels of depression and anxiety and lower stress levels, with higher enjoyment levels and a stronger sense of life satisfaction.” (Source FlowerFox.com)
  3. Flowers in the home reduce depression and anxiety: Want those good moods to stick around? A Harvard study revealed that flowers feed compassion and chase away anxiety and worries. “The research participants lived with fresh flowers for just a few days and reported increases in feelings of compassion and kindness for others. Overall, people simply felt less negative after being around flowers.” (Society of American Florists) Psychologists also noted that “flower moods” are contagious. Basically, the lucky people that have fresh flowers, spread the good vibes around. They are more compassionate and considerate to others.
  4. Flowers get the creative juices flowing: Green work spaces that have plants or flowers are known to reduce stress levels and in one study increased creative ideas by 30%. Another study, concluded that green spaces in the workplace resulted in more good ideas, innovative thinking and better problem-solving abilities.
  5. Flowers make the giver happy too: This comes as no surprise to me. Studies show that those that those that give flowers are happier. You send a bouquet to brighten someones day and you brighten your own! That’s what I call a win-win situation.

Want to learn more about flowers and their connection to mental health? Here is a great read with sources: https://www.flowerfox.com.au/blog/6-proven-mental-health-benefits-of-flowers/

 

 

 

 

How to Setup Dripworks Drip Lines

Feel a little clueless when it comes to how to setup Dripworks drip lines? I was a bit intimated by drip lines and assumed they were ultra complicated.

Turns out, the hardest part of installing the Dripworks drip lines up was the baby that woke up early from his nap.

I purchased the small kit from Dripworks and added a few extra packages of drip tape, end plugs etc. to make it work for my space.

This is the Dripworks drip tape kit I purchased plus extra drip lines, row connectors and end plugs to customize it to my space. Photo credit to Dripworks.

Before you purchase drip lines, map out your garden space and figure out the length of mainline and drip tape you will need. Also consider the type of soil you are working with and how that will affect the number of lines needed in each row.

I chose to do three lines of drip tape down each row since our clay soil is dense, but it transports the water a little better than sandy soil.

(Someone  with sandy soil would probably do four drip lines.)

Don’t know what type of soil you have? You can order a soil test or go outside after it rains and see for yourself. Just grab a clump of the dirt in your hand and squeeze to see how well it sticks together. Clay soil tends to clump. You can also look at your untilled ground in the summer. Does it have cracks? Is it super hard to shovel? Probably clay.

Once my kit arrived I watched a quick Youtube video on installing dripworks drip lines and went to work.

The first part you will need to make is the manifold. The manifold =  filter + regulator + hose regulator. It looks like a weird paintball gun.

You connect the weird paintball gun to the faucet (I also ordered a faucet splitter, so I could use the faucet for other things without disconnect my lines.

I also recommend adding a timer to your drip lines to get consistent watering with minimal effort. (This will also come in handy when I am off camping or visiting family.)

Garden Tip: Use teflon tape on your end plugs or on any connections that are leaking on the manifold. This saved my sanity.

After the manifold is connected to the faucet, you will need to connect your mainline tubing. That is the thicker tubing without drip holes in it.

I bought an easy-loc T connector since my line needed to go in two directions from my faucet (I have rows on either side of the faucet). I had to cut a portion of the mainline to connect first then connect the easy-loc T so it added a step.

I struggled big time trying to wiggle the stiff mainline tubing onto the manifold. I finally gave up and let the tubing sit in the hot sun so it could become more pliable.

That seemed to do the trick.

My next issue was getting the mainline to lay flat when I rolled it out. I ended up using landscape staples that came with my kit to hold it in place while I connected the drip tape lines.

The drip tape lines go down the length of each row. To connect them to the mainline, the kit gives you a special hole puncher and multiple drip tape row connectors.

Excuse the mess, but you can see how th emain line goes down the length of the garden and the drip tapes come off of it.

I spaced my drip tape lines about a foot apart on each row.

You make the holes with the puncher where you want the lines to start, then stuff in the connectors.

I found it easiest if I punched the hole slightly higher than horizontal and put the connector in with a twisting motion.

The hole is punched in the mainline and the barb attachment is stuffed in it.

Once the connectors are in, you will connect the drip tape by sliding it onto the end of the connector and screwing the connector down. (It will make sense when you see the parts you are working with.)

Slide the end of the drip tape onto the barb connector.

Unroll the drip tape down the row and cut.

If you have row covers make sure the end peaks out so you can tighten any end plug leaks. (Wish I had thought of this….)

To connect the end plugs, you will want to put teflon tape on, before sliding the end of the drip tape on.

Try to keep the drip tape from going sideways when screwing the end plug down over it.

The figure eight kinks the end of the mainline.

Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

At the end, you will probably have sore thumbs from punching all those little holes and twisting on all the row connectors.

Once your lines are down you will use the figure eight ends to kink the end of the mainline (you don’t want water pouring out of the mainline).

 

The last step will be testing out your drip lines/timer by turning on the water.

Walk along your lines while the water is running to see if you can spot any end plug or manifold leaks.

Be sure to turn the water off, before fixing the leaks or you will be working in mud.

That is it! My next step is to research how often my drip lines need to go on and programming that on my timer. So far I have found these other articles helpful here,  here and here.

Garden Tip: If you are working with landscape fabric you will be putting that down over the lines. I researched the pros and cons of drip tape over or under the row covers and decided to go with under.

 

The idea being the water will be flush with the soil and be more likely to go where I want it to go before evaporating. I’ve also heard drip tape lasts longer if it is protected under the landscape fabric.

 

The trade-off being easy access to your drip tape if a leak springs or a drip hole gets clogged.

 

Hopefully that isn’t an issue if you have a filter on your manifold, avoid stepping in on your rows, or stabbing landscape staples into your lines on accident.

For my top three tips to laying landscape fabric, you can read my post here. 

If you plan on putting down a straw or hay mulch, make sure you test your lines first and put the mulch on top.

If you still have questions, feel free to post them below in the comments!

It is amazing how long it takes to write each post with two rascally kids climbing all over me. However, I do my best to include details (even if it is embarrassing to admit my failures). If you can, I would really appreciate it if you left a comment below. It makes me happy to know someone is out there and it gives my website a boost. Happy gardening!