Monday, November 20, 2017

Full Circle

My first amazing season as a flower farmer passed in a blink of an eye, so it's no surprise that I find myself right back here again, planting bulbs and planning ahead for next season's blooms!
 Last year, I planted around 3 thousand bulbs.  This year the number increased to 4,000.  It sure sounds like a ton but, believe it or not, I'm so small scaled compared to other flower farmers I've come to know and admire.  While daffodils and alliums remain to naturalize in the garden, tulips will once again be treated as annuals (see last post).
There's my Tilly, lost in a sea of late summer blooms. Most mornings had me out pinching plants (to make them bushier) or deadheading (to promote new buds) blooms.  Timing the blooms to open for an upcoming event is quite tricky, but by the end of summer, I could easily gauge harvest time by the size of the buds.  It's work, work, work, but I loved every minute of it!
Providing fresh bouquets at the local farmer's market generated some wedding design work for me as well.  I loved creating this bright sunflower bridal bouquet.
And these cheerful mason jar centerpieces for an engagement party. 
Fresh, local grown flowers are the best!
This is what my work area looks like before Sunday's farmer's market.

Ta-Da!  A sample of my mixed bouquet ready for market.

September/October was dahlia season.  That blush one is called
Cafe Au Lait, most prized by designers.
And, no wonder, she's a BEAUTY...isn't she?

Well, there's lots to catch you up on but that'll have to wait 'til next time.
Thanks for stopping by, friends, I'll be back soon!



Monday, May 15, 2017

Catching up...

So much going-ons to share since my last post, but, as usual, I am scrambling for time!  With two farmer's market sales under my belt, it's a good time for a re-cap.
Remember all those bulbs I planted last fall?  Each and every one made it through the winter and provided such an array of colorful and gorgeous blooms!  I truly thought I would lose some here and there to voles and squirrels!
Even the bulbs I planted in plastic crates did extremely well!
I kept detailed notes on which varieties did best, provided longest stems (though I harvest them all with bulbs attached).  There will be a few varieties I will NOT include in this fall's planting, due to bud size, color pigment and foliage issues.
Before I knew it, the window for tulip harvesting came to a close...which is end of April here in central NJ.  This last harvest was certainly bittersweet.
As you can see, there were so many different colors and sizes it was hard to pick a favorite.
Tulips can be wrapped in newspapers (bulbs and all!) and stored in a cooler, for a few weeks.  Did you know that?!
Since this was my first 'farmed crop', mistakes were made in this process...
but that's how I'll learn to do better!
A sampling of blooms I had available for that first farmer's market sale. 
Not too shabby, eh?
It was such a fun experience and I felt like a proud mama, showing off her babies!
Offerings included wrapped bouquets in difference sizes and mason jar arrangements.
The flowers were a big hit and I even had a few repeat customers at the 2nd market, two weeks later!
I already miss all these beautiful spring blooms but I'm definitely looking forward to the next crop to harvest.  They include alliums, bachelor buttons, lilacs, peonies and irises.  Can hardly wait!  Thanks for visiting, friends!  If you're local, come visit me at the Rte 12 circle market in Flemington 9-1pm...every Sunday.


Monday, January 30, 2017

My humble beginnings...

...as a flower farmer, that is.
 Planning what to grow that will provide blooms for cutting in spring, starts in
August/Sept. There are hardy annuals that will handle my Zone 6a winters no
problem. Bachelor Buttons is one of them.
Seeds direct-sown in the garden looked great just a few weeks later.
I also started many other easy to grow hardy annuals.
Such as sweet peas, nigellas, poppies and larkspurs
(images from google).
New raised beds were created all around the garden.
This is a front yard island bed I extended by 3'.
Brick edgings were removed, sod cut and dug up in 12" sections, soil
loosened with hand picks and added back to new bed.
Supervisor Tilly approves!
Don't forget the bulb food!
Many bags of soil and compost later, I was ready to plant!
Since the front yard is pretty much deer country, my plantings were mostly
daffodils and alliums...all 600 of 'em!

And in the backyard, hubby built 6 new raised beds...wahoo!
5' x 10' and 6" deep.
I use a weed barrier to prevent nearby tree roots growing through,
and layers of newspapers break down fast so a good way to recycle, as well.
  These tulips will be treated as annuals at harvest time...
meaning I will pull up the whole bulb (to get longer stem length),
and discard the bulbs..making room to grow the next batch of plants.
Leaf mulching is a great way to add nutrients to your beds...though
be mindful that breakdown of said leaves will affect your soil's PH level.
And here I go...expanding another bed...
...for more tulips!
I can't wait to see the explosion of 3,000 bulbs!

It's going to be beautiful spring!
Have a great week!