It finally rained last night and a whole lot today too. They kept on saying it was going to rain last week and it really didn’t, which sort of caused me to fall behind in my office work. So I breathed a huge sigh of relief when it started to come down last night. Not only is it giving me a day to catch up with inside work but it has been couple of weeks since we got any measurable rain at the farm and the ground was starting to dry up. I have transplanted so many things in the last couple of weeks and a good soaking is just what they need. What have I been planting you ask. The list is long: lisianthus, snaps, stock, bells bupleurum, sweet peas, dusty miller, campanulas, grasses, dianthus, scabiosa, and more stuff I can’t think of right now.
It finally got warm last week and so many perennials and shrubs are coming up and leafing out. There will be a lot happening in a couple of weeks, inside the hoops and out in the garden. Right now I have anemones and ranunculus in the hoop and fritillaries, narcissus, and tulips outside.
The to do list seems endless right now. There are still so many transplants to get in the ground, more seeds to start so I’ll have flowers late in the summer, irrigation lines to set up, weeding to do (yes, so much weeding), and my first wedding of the year is on Friday. Yikes! At least Mother Nature took care of the watering for me today.
April is one of my busiest months as a flower grower and, as it is in it’s final days this year, I am thinking about all of the things that should be done by now but are not. Not entirely my fault, most of it can be chalked up to the weather. We have been on a roller coaster ride for the last few years so I think I am over the anxiety that it causes (mostly over it.) By now I would like to have a whole lot of annuals planted out. I did get a couple of beds in last week: snaps, stock, sweet peas, bells, calendula, but there are about 20 more flats sitting out there waiting for the ground to dry up a bit so I can till and plant.
I have also been ordering, paying for, and receiving stuff. You know the type of stuff you know that you need but you don’t really have the money to pay for it because it’s only April, but you need it if you want to have a productive season. Stuff like plants, bulbs, shade cloth, landscape fabric, cover cop seeds, market booth fees, a new market table, gas to get to the farm…. It’s enough to give a girl a headache. I try to keep my attentions pointed in the near future and resolve that this fall I will save more money so that I can make it through the long and expensive spring. It is hard to do when you need so many things to run a profitable business, sometimes it’s hard to draw the line. But look at what I got last week, a bunch of bare root stuff. Probably won’t pay for itself this year but hopefully next year I will have at least recovered most of their expense.
And I am still starting seeds, both annuals and perennials. The annual seeding schedule starts to lighten up a bit in the basement and moves into more direct seeding as the weather warms, assuming that it will warm! On my list now are more heat loving plants: celosias, marigolds, gomphrena, grasses, as well as more successions of scabiosa, and snaps. On top of all the actual work of growing the flowers April is a big month for marketing and beginning to sell these flowers. I can grow as much as my heart desires but unless someone actually pays me for them, well, I don’t eat. Tulips and anemones are blooming in the hoop. Ranunculus, stock, snaps and poppies are getting buds set. Mother’s day is coming, people have weddings on their mind, and I almost always feel like I am forgetting something. And that is the madness that is April, every year. It brings new life and excitement along with long work days which are scheduled around the unpredictable weather.
What is going on out there these days? That is what everybody wants to know. It has been a long and cold winter and all of the plants seem to be sleeping in this spring. I can’t really blame them, it is snowing again right now. The weather had been nice and warm for a few days, then rain and now snow. It will warm up later this week and I think that a lot of plants are going to be in a hurry to get up and do their thing. Already I have iris, narcissi, tulips, lady’s mantel, dianthus starting to poke up out of the ground. Lilac and viburnum buds are beginning to swell and I saw a couple of witch hazel flowers starting to open. I think that spring is actually here. I am so happy that we got those hoop houses up last year. Even though spring is late I still have tulips ready to go for Easter.
We planted all of the new hops yesterday in the rain. I think that there are 20 different varieties now. Yikes!
I’m going to start field planting annuals late this week, not too far off schedule despite the slow start. Last week I planted a ton of alliums that I got a good deal on, since it’s spring and my supplier was hot to get rid of them. Mention bulbs on sale to me and I loose my mind. No self-control whatsoever. Another round of lisianthus just showed up as well as some scented geraniums and succulents. Oooh my basement is over flowing with all kinds of good stuff.
Seriously overflowing, I have flats on the floor. Not a great pic but you get the idea. Most of it can get moved to the hoop after tomorrow night’s return to frigid temps. And I am going to fill that germination chamber up with annuals one more time this week, then it’s on to the the perennial project.
This week I feel like spring is actually going to happen. The rhubarb and daffodils are coming up outside and almost all of the snow has melted. I can finally a run a hose over to the hoop houses and get some serious watering done! This part along the back is where Nich’s hops are planted and it had the deepest snow cover as it backs up to a giant empty corn field.
And another sign of spring: tulips in the hoop! SO exciting. I really had been hoping that we would have a normal spring so I could be selling these things by now. I could use the money, April gets a little rough in the financial arena for me. All of my needs for spring are getting purchased with little in the way of income. It makes me anxious.
I have gotten most of the planting done in the hoop houses and I am mostly caught up on my seeding schedule. I have another big round this week then I can start to focus on the perennials that have been patiently waiting in my fridge. I am not sure where I am going to plant some of these but it seemed like a great idea during that LONG winter we just endured. Seriously! It was the longest, coldest, snowiest winter of my life. This is not me over exaggerating, these are facts.
We finally started work outside yesterday and it felt good! My anxiety about the cold and wet spring is starting to disappear. I will still be a little behind with my flowering schedule for a couple of months but I am back on track now with my seeding schedule. I did skip a few weeks of seed sowing in the basement and sunflowers will have to wait at least another week to get seeded into the field. To make matters even better they are calling for decent weather all week.
The perennials are starting to come up and I have already seen that some of them have not made it through the winter. The last twelve months have been stressful for these guys and I’m sure that I will find more losses as the weather continues to warm and there are blank spots where there should be plants. That’s OK I was hoping to start over this year any way.
The daffodils are getting ready to flower. If it stays nice and sunny I expect there will be a few flowers by tomorrow, a couple of weeks later than “normal”. These very same daffodils were all opened up by the end of March last year and the year before it was the beginning of May. It seems like there is no normal any more only extremes one way or the other.
Alright, things are not so bad as they seemed a week and a half ago. Lat week I was very busy catching up on my planting. And I am happy to say that I am mostly caught up, which is a huge relief. I spent an entire day in the basement seeding about 80% of what I had to skip during most of March. I was able to begin hardening plants last week and that cleared the way for lots of new stuff to go under the lights. I might still have to bring it all in at night but that is better than waiting. So far germination has been good, which is really putting me at ease, I just have to remember to keep them watered.
I also spent a glorious day at the farm last week. I was planting my anemones and ranunculus into crates, they were starting to look a little sad all cramped up in those plug trays. There is not enough room for this in my yard so that means it’s officially farm time again and I could not be happier about that. I have had to bring them into the barn for a couple of nights but hopefully after Wednesday they can stay out for good.
It has come to that time of year again… almost spring. Each winter I take a gamble and attempt a moderately accurate prediction of the arrival of spring. It looks like this year I guessed wrong. I planned my seeding schedule with the idea that I would be able to start moving plants outside in early March. If I had a hoophouse it would not be that big of a deal. But I do not have a hoophouse, nor a farm to put it on. Instead I have an overflowing grow room in the basement. I’m sure that the outlets can’t handle any more lights so that is not really an option. If the weather were just a little warmer I could put up my cold frame in the back yard, all the snow out there doesn’t help that situation and they are calling for another 6 inches tomorrow. I have no right to complain about precipitation in any form at this point considering we are still technically in a drought. The deficit heading into the winter was so bad that all of the rain and snow we have gotten over the last months have not caught us up yet.
Last year I said that I would not operate like this again. We needed to move but finding a farm suitable for our needs has been more difficult than I thought it would be.
I only have room for a few more trays of seedlings down there so I had better use it wisely. Thanks to some neglectful watering in earlier this month, I might be able to make room for a few more. But I had planned for over 30 more flats to be seeded during the next three weeks. I will have to ration my space and wait. Wait patiently for spring to come.