As we wrap up our first year of flower farming with a big hooray, I thought it appropriate to share the many lessons I have learned this year.
Flower farming is hard work - weeding, feeding, harvesting, planting, dodging insects, shoveling manure, and oh my the sun.. the heat can nearly bring tears to your eyes. And yes, I even harvest in the rain and sometimes in the peak summer heat, I actually welcome it. My nails are a mess, hair is way past due for a cut and condition and I have truly forgotten how to dress to go out as I spend most days in farm clothes.
As our very wise local AG agent said to me "Louisiana is the place where insects and pathogens come to vacation." There are no truer words. We tried very hard to use neem oil and all organic insect control and fertilizer. We lost the battle along with thousands of plants. I mourned the death of each of them and lost many hours of sleep trying to find the most environmentally friendly pesticides that actually work. We have since found a system that appears to be working - alternating organic and conventional products and using only as needed.
Plant Spacing in Humid and Hot Louisiana:
Zinnias must be planted with an abundance of spacing here in Louisiana, we tried the 9 inch spacing method and found that there simply was not enough airflow in our heat and humidity. We spent way too many hours harvesting only to throw out 2/3 of the crop due to the blooms not being up to our standards. Our 2019 plan includes spacing nothing closer than 12 inches and zinnia will be spaced 24 or more.
While we love our annuals, we wish we would have planted more perennials this year. 2019 will include many, many more perennials and we are over the moon excited about this
Selling at the farmers markets is not our cup of tea. Setting up the tent and lugging our bounty over to the market is a tremendous amount of work and stress on the blooms, and the farmers. If we find a few markets who will allow us to do pop-ups rather than signing on for every weekend, we will send out social media announcements to let you guys know we will be there. Instead of the tent, we will arrive with a little flower cart for ease of set up and hopefully small enough that we are allowed a shady location. The heat and sun is just too much on the blooms, and being a newbie at the market equaled a not so shady spot.
Flower Stand at Our Farm:
We loved, loved having the flower stand open at the farm, however we are working on a better system to come up with dates that our clients can count on. Perhaps the third weekend of each month. We will make an announcement once we have a solid plan. It's on the short list.
Flower arranging is my absolute favorite thing to do, and there is no better venue to do this for. Providing farm-fresh, locally grown flowers, arranged in our on-site studio adjacent to the flower fields is most definitely a niche market. I am proud to be one of the very few farmer-florist in our area!
Renovations are nearly complete on my flower studio. I can not wait to share with you all the photos and have you over to enjoy a glass of tea and chat about our flowers.
Subscription Service for Local Businesses:
We are now offering flower arrangement services for local businesses. Custom arrangements delivered each week.
We are expanding our wholesale accounts to local florist. We will spread the love with many more florist who can benefit from having our locally grown blooms for their valued clients.
We are so very excited to have several seasons under our belt and a better understanding of our crop availability. With this, we are now offering subscription service to individuals who enjoy having fresh cut, locally grown flowers in their home. Hop on over to the Flower Subscription Page for all the deetz.
My favorite crop this year - Lisianthus! I have quadrupled our crop for 2019!
Least Favorite Crop:
My least favorite crop - Zinnia. As pretty as they are, the vase life breaks my heart. It's not necessarily the vase life that gets me, it's the fact they do not die gracefully. The tips will brown prematurely. Really, it gets to me. They could actually continue for nearly 10 days without petal drop or melt, but those brown tips, ugh. I will continue to grow them, but have eliminated white, yellow and green. I have chosen ones that I have found to be the least conspicuous about the brown tips so they can be enjoyed longer.
Some of our New crops for 2019 :
Bridal wreath spirea
Bells of Ireland
And many more! You can find a complete list on Our Crops page.
A flower truck to pop-up around town is high on the long list. It may be several years before we can accomplish this but it is a huge desire. Not only will I immensely enjoy this, I really feel you guys will love this option as well!
This is another long-list item, but definitely on my mind. I am working out details and plan to offer nationwide delivery of our farm-fresh blooms. Perhaps 2020, if I can manage to get it together in 2019 that would be fabulous.
I love flower farming! Heat, insects, sweat and tears, bring it!
Here's to an exciting 2019 flower season!!
Farmer, florist, lady with the feed bucket. Horses and flowers make my heart go pitter-patter. Or sometimes clippity-clop.