March 2019 - Flower Update!
It’s my goal to post monthly updates on the blog, so that those who are interested can follow along in this Flower Adventure!
Exciting news this month (besides the flowers beginning to pop up). I’ve happily accepted a part-time job on a local flower and veggie farm this growing season. It’s a huge opportunity to learn the ins and outs of production farming on a small scale and I’ll be sure to share what I can about that as I progress.
Unfortunately, February here in the Pacific Northwest brought us close to 17” of snow this year and I hadn’t prepped any of our beds for such unusual weather, not believing we’d get any. Seeing the wee anemones, daffodils, and tulip sprouts completely buried spurred me to research the use of short and high tunnels.
These are un-heated structures made out of ribbing and plastic covering that greatly protect crops from harsh weather. They are used pretty extensively here in the north to give farmers a jump start on production in early spring and help extend the growing season longer into fall and freezing temperatures. The snow provided a learning opportunity that has really opened up possibilities for the future!
So far, my anemones have only produced very short stemmed blooms (perfect for tiny bouquets), I think they’ll lengthen soon as the weather warms. I’ve put up several wind breaks around the yard to help all the seedlings this year as they stretch for height.
This month has mostly been about starting seeds indoors for transplanting outside once we pass the last frost date on April 6th. The type of farming that interests me is small scale sustainable farming, usually done on 2 or less acres. In this style of farming, plants are packed tightly together to utilize every nook and soil building is emphasized to create a nutrient rich environment without chemicals. This also calls for succession planting, or planting crops several weeks apart to ensure a continually rolling bloom of flowers, not just one big bloom in June and then nothing for the rest of the year. For example, I have 3 sowings of cosmos this year, each 3 weeks apart. All 20 varieties of flowers I’m growing will have similar sowings. This required early planning, back in November, to know exactly how many flowers I would need for each bed and what dates they needed to be started in order to have blooms all season long. Needless to say this can get complicated, so I use a planner and journal to record all of my dates, notes, and observations. We’ll see how well my plan worked at the end of the year!
Our seed starting station has been going 14 hours a day since the middle of February. Watching the tiny seedlings pop up and realizing that I will care for them from germination to bloom and eventual death is daunting and invigorating.
The first flowers to be transplanted out this year will be little pansies and violas for cutting. I’ve always loved them and hope they work well for unique small bouquets.
I’ve also been experimenting with gathering wild budding stems and holding them in our ‘cooler’, also known as our very chilly front stairwell. It’s my hope to blend my love of wildcrafting together with flower farming and create interesting bouquets with wild plants that strike me as lovely in their own right. So far, huckleberry buds and purple dead-nettle have been successful in vase trials for 5-7 days. I look forward to experimenting more as Spring continues to unfold into blooms!