As I briefly mentioned in our last blog post, I've started working on a little flower farm on the property. I'm approaching this endeavor cautiously, mostly because that's how my husband is most comfortable and I really do need him to rein me in sometimes. Don't tell him that I admitted that out loud, though.
Starting small, I decided on an area that is 46 feet x 48 feet. It is a perfect spot in between two hose bibs and slants a bit, so water shouldn't pool if we get torrential downpours. There will be 7 - 4 feet wide beds, with 18" in between for walking and overgrowth. It's only missing a south-facing windbreak and we're still undecided as to whether we will plant bushes or put up a manmade barrier. I'm voting for bushes, because I'd like to cut from those as well for bouquets. Once we figured out the best area on the property for growing flowers, we measured three times and roped it off. Gigi was great at guarding the rope.
We then removed the rope and spray painted the perimeter, just to be EXTRA sure that this is what we wanted it to look like. After asking many different people and doing a ton of research, we opted to kill the grass in that area and then tilled it up a bit to remove the dead sod.
While it looks like Anthony is working extremely hard and I'm just standing on the sidelines taking pictures, he actually only let me use the tiller for one row. He loved doing it and hogged it the whole time. But I knew there was a lot more backbreaking work ahead, so I let him have his fun with that part.
We only tilled it once, and also tilled a smaller area a few steps away where I ended up planting peony bushes. More on those later. I'm not really a big fan of a lot of tilling - it breaks up all of the fabulous organic matter in the soil and also pulls up dormant weed seeds. And I definitely don't need any extra weeds in my life.
The first tough part was removing all of the clumps of sod. I only removed it on two of the rows where I planted spring bulbs, because I don't need to worry about doing that now. I can work on that in the spring. I knew that I needed to plant a TON of bulbs and didn't want to overdo it and give up or - even more likely - temporary paralyze myself from digging and raking for 5 days straight.
Look at all of that sod. I covered it with a tarp for a few weeks after we dug it up in hopes of it all dying and somehow magically disappearing. No, it didn't work, but hey - it was worth trying! It looked great when you drove by our house for those few weeks in November - a giant tarp and paint sticks poking out everywhere next to big, unkempt piles of dirt. My poor neighbors.
I then dug trenches to plant all of the bulbs I ordered. All 2100 of them. Which, for a flower farmer, is not that many. But the previous fall I planted 80 around my house and thought I was a boss. Ha!
These are some of the lovely Tulip and Daffodil bulbs I purchased from various companies. I wanted to test a few different places out - to see what kind of quality their bulbs were, how quickly they shipped, customer service issues if any, etc.
I read Floret Farm's blog voraciously and followed her bulb planting instructions to a T. If you don't know about Erin and her SICK flower farm, you must check it out. Immediately. I've learned half of what I know about flower farming from her blog and speaking engagements.
I dug this wide trench, put all of the bulbs down until they were almost touching each other and filled it up about halfway with water. Then I put soil back on top and topped that off with compost.
I dug separate rows for the Daffodils, the Allium and the Muscari.
I used my old paint sticks to identify which variety I planted in each row. So, it ain't pretty, but it will do for now. Now we wait. Actually, now I try to learn EVERYTHING ELSE I can about flower farming. I have just begun to choose which seeds I'm going to start in my basement in the next couple of months. I need to figure out how much drip tape I need, oh yeah, and how drip tape and irrigation works. And how many seeds I need. And how to correctly do soil blocking. And how much landscape fabric I need. And 127 other things, but I'm taking it one step at a time. If all goes well, this is what we will see poking up out of the ground in early spring:
Wish us luck. And get ready to buy some flowers.