Whew, it’s been a busy week! It’s crazy how fast this dream of doing a “little flower farm side thing” has evolved over the past few weeks. Basically what started out as a simple idea for how to gain back some of the money for my cut garden hobby has now grown into a legit business venture, and I’m putting in the hours to prove it. Not only do I need to do the actual WORK of producing flowers for selling, but I’m also having to learn a ton about marketing and business and all sorts of fun things.
I told my husband that I basically have 3 things I need to do every day for the flower farm:
1 – Spend time actually working on growing.
This week, that meant sowing hundreds of seeds both indoors and out, watering, preparing soil, building garden beds, etc. So far, almost everything I’ve sowed has come up (both indoors and out), which is encouraging but far from meaning that they will all actually produce for me. Time will tell.
2 – Spend time researching.
While I’ve grown a garden for years and have been fascinated by flower gardening particularly since I was a young kid, I still have a LOT to learn when it comes to not only cultivating all the different varieties, but also harvesting them, timing the plantings and succession plantings for market selling, and learning how to grow them (and WHEN) in this particular area. I’ve been spending a ton of time every day listening to webinars, reading books, studying flower farmers on YouTube, and more.
3 – Spend time working on actually building up the business side of things.
This week, that meant calling up local florists to see if there’s any interest in buying from me (the answer is a strong YES from everyone I’ve talked to so far, which is amazing!), looking into businesses that sell flowers and getting down contact information to call them down the road if I have extra flowers to sell, creating and maintaining a social media presence since that’s primarily how I’ll directly market bouquets (follow me on Instagram HERE and stay tuned for the Facebook page to be ready in a week or two), researching prices for both wholesale and retail, and nailing down how I’m planning to do my CSA bouquet subscriptions (which is my #1 preferred way to market my flowers, at least for this first year).
It’s been a steep learning curve so far, and I’m sure it will only get steeper once I actually start having my plants produce flowers (and start experiencing the inevitable plant and business failures along the way). I am super excited though, and I hope you’ll join me for my journey here and on social media!
Here are 5 fun facts I learned this week in my research:
1. You control the size of a sunflower’s bloom based on how closely you plant them together
You guys, THIS BLEW MY MIND! I always thought that the size of a sunflower bloom was entirely dependent on the type of sunflower, but it actually turns out it’s much more dependent on how closely plants are spaced out. This was great news for me because I was planning on having to space out all my sunflowers 9″-12″ apart, but now I’m going to be planting them every six inches. This means I can almost double what I can plant in my sunflower bed!
2. Around 80% of the flowers sold in the U. S. are imported from other countries
Originally I just wanted to start my flower farm as a (very) small little hobby business that would basically just earn me enough to pay for itself and not much else. However, the more I’ve looked into it, the more I realize that this is a profitable industry if you can manage and control your production really well. Local flowers are much fresher than anything that’s going to be sourced from out of country, which means they have a longer vase life and you’ll also be able to choose from a MUCH wider selection since you don’t have to worry about transporting them long distances.
3. Many hardy annuals can actually be planted in the fall for a much earlier bloom time the following spring
Okay, if you are into growing flowers at ALL, you have to check out the book Cool Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler (aff link). This book has changed EVERYTHING for me, and I only wish I would have read it last summer so that I could actually have put all the ideas into practice for this first growing season. In a nutshell, she basically teaches how there’s a huge class of plants known as hardy annuals (such as poppies, snapdragons, black-eyed susans, and more, that you can plant in the fall and then that will winter over and produce blooms much, much earlier the following spring than if you follow what it says on the seed packets and wait until spring or until your last frost date to first plant them.
Much of my planting outside right now is experimental (since technically I’m about two weeks ahead of what she even said to do, but that I chose to do anyway because our weather was forecasted to be quite warm for the first half of March), but based on what her book says, I actually think the flowers I direct seeded outside this week (larkspur, Bells of Ireland, poppies, love-in-a-mist, and bachelor’s buttons) should do all right.
I’m doing a lot of “experiments” this year with a TON of different varieties (I definitely have a seed-buying problem), but I figure that once I figure out what works well, I’ll know more which types of flowers to focus on in future years. For now, I’ve just got to try them all! 🙂
4. Tweezers are your best friend when it comes to taking care of seeds
I didn’t use tweezers with the first wave of seeds that I planted, and it shows—because some of the seeds are so tiny (yarrow, snapdragons, I’m looking at you!), there’s as many as 12-15 different seedlings coming up in a single cell in some cases! I got smarter once I noticed how often that was happening, and I used tweezers to carefully pull out the seedlings by the leaves and replant them into their own cells. I also started using tweezers to pick up the seeds and drop them exactly where I wanted them in the cells when first sowing new seeds, as well. (I’ve also heard that you can use a toothpick to do that too, esp. with the tiny, tiny seeds like snapdragons).
5. The difference between “biannual” and “biennial”
I hadn’t paid much attention before to these two different terms and were treating all things under this category as if they were the same thing. So, for future reference, a “biannual” is a plant that flowers twice in one year (such as some types of roses or irises), and a “biennial” (a much more common flower term) is a plant that only produces foliage the first year and then doesn’t bloom until the second year (such as most types of foxglove, hollyhocks, and more).
Hope you learned something new, and I’ll try to be back next week with a new Homestead Weekly!