To Market, To Market

Summer has arrived!  

The blooms are booming.  Now... we just need to find homes for all of them.  

[Flowers: Poppies, Strawflower, Anemone.  Larkspur, Ranunculus, Corn Cockle.  Double Click Cosmos, Bachelor Button, Calendula.  Status, Rubenza Cosmos, Aster.] 

As we step into this season of abundance, we are finally starting to see some of the results from all of our hard work.  (We are also starting to see some of the changes we can make to become even better growers.  *wink,wink*  Got to love the learning process.)  The flowers shown above are some of our successes!  Brimming with bunches of blooms, we are now seeking out partners interested in helping to spread the joy.  If you are, or if you know of anyone who is, looking to partner up with a fresh flower grower, please let us know!  Stores, restaurants, businesses, florists, hotels, veggie growers, farm stands - we would love to find folks that appreciate flowers and would love to collaborate.  Here's to great partnerships!

Here comes the sun

...and I say, "It's all right"

Salvia, cosmos, allium, and daisy

Salvia, cosmos, allium, and daisy

Well, I need to tip my hat to Mother Nature, as she is the true flower grower.  Any notion that it was us, as remote as it might have been, has been unceremoniously flung out by the crazy weather roller coaster we have been riding this spring.  "Yes, Ms. Nature, it's all about you."

Hopefully, this recent round of roasting sun has finally done the trick.  You see, our flowers have been waiting.  Patiently waiting.  Us, not so patiently waiting, for them to grow from their scrawny, spindly little, cold-damp-weather selves, into the bloom power houses that we have urged them to be.  We fertilized, we weeded, we coddled ...nada... the sun comes out for 3 days and ... BLAM!  Ok, it was kind of a little blam, but it's still a blam.  We'll take it.

Islandic poppy

Islandic poppy

**Reveal of Lesson Learned** This spring, we anxiously watched the start of a farmers market come, and pass, and we had nothing in the 'freshly grown local flower' department to contribute.  It's an interesting feeling, to find yourself hovering over plants that you nurtured from seeds, searching for any sign of a flower bud and thinking, "Come on. Come ON! Anyone? ANYONE!?"  AND... I can promise you that we are taking the steps needed to try, really try, to avoid being caught holding an empty vase at the start of next year's markets.  

Humbled and hopeful.  See you at the markets!

Farmers Markets

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Allium and ferns

Allium and ferns

It's all set. Farmgirl flowers & finds will be bringing our flower bounty to two farmers markets this season.  We will be attending the Gilford Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9-noon, June 17 to September 23. And we will also be attending the enchanting Littleton Farmers Market, on Sundays from 10-1, June 4 to October 8.  The possibility of a third location is bubbling on the back burner, just in case our thumbs turn out to be extra green (location suggestions always welcome).

The planting pace has officially gone from a waltz to the hustle, thanks to Mother Nature (rain, schizophrenic temperature swings, and *grumble* black flies *grumble*).  Space still seems to be at a premium these days.  This time it is not the need to find cozy spots for seedling trays, it is about finding more permanent real estate for those same seedlings now that they have grown up some.  As soon as ground is tilled up and prepared, we have plants waiting.  I picture their little plant knees pinched together, bouncing around in an impatient 'hurry' dance.

Filling up fast

Filling up fast

Dahlia beds

Dahlia beds

Last month, we potted up most of our dahlias, in hopes that the head start would mean that we would be able to bring these dazzling beauties to you that much sooner.  Yesterday, they made the move to their prime hoop house location.  There were so many amazing varieties to choose from... here are a few you can look for: Cafe au Lait, Creme de Cassis, Fuchsiana Karma, Ice Cube, Noordwijks Glorie, and Peaches and Cream. 

See you at the Markets!  

April showers

Come on May flowers!

Transplants on overnights

Transplants on overnights

April started out cold and snowy, moved into sunny days punctuated with 80s, and has finally settled in to rainy and mild.  The seedlings aren't quite sure what to do, and to be honest, we're faking it a bit too.

We have several ongoing projects right now at farmgirl (the reason why it has been so long since the last post... I'll try to do better).  First, Dave has the wonderful, and desperately needed, outdoor seedling room up and running (Thanks for your hard work Dave!).  Most nights we have to provide some supplemental heat, and most days need lots of cooling air flow, but many of our transplants have made the move.  A few rebelled and wanted back in (kind of like a cat that will most certainly die if you don't let them outside... and then stand in the doorway), but most seem to be loving it out there.  Amazing, but we are already running out of room (Plant, Dave, Plant).

Old goat yard out, new garden beds in

Old goat yard out, new garden beds in

Which brings us to our next project.  We are working hard at getting some outdoor spaces ready for the transplants and seeds that love this cool, spring weather.  Yes, ideally this should have been done last fall, but we were too busy falling in love.  But never fear!  Our sleeves are rolled up, the tiller is on the old JD 317, and we mean business.  One area that got spruced up this week was the home of some former residents, a wee donkey and several goats.  The housing was dismantled (we will reuse what we can), and the mighty brambles were driven back towards the woods with chair and whip.  Wha-CHA!  We now have about two and a half good rows ready to plant, and will start bending tubes for some protective low tunnels next.  

Main greenhouse ready for a cover

Main greenhouse ready for a cover

We are also making progress on the first hoophouse.  The base and end boards have been replaced, purlins (reinforcing bars) have been installed, hoops have been trued up and tightened, and it is now ready for plastic and end walls (the greenhouse was not used last year, and needed a bit of sprucing up).  It has also been tilled up; five nice beds have been carved out and are ready for plants.  Dave doesn't ever seem surprised, and I really shouldn't be either, but I often find my self amazed by just how much needs to get done and how long it all seems to take.  Good thing we both love what we are doing, and can't wait to bring flowers and smiles to folks soon.

Spring hasn't quite sprung

The good with the bad...

... and more snow ...

... and more snow ...

There are few things better than a new adventure to provide you with ample opportunities to practice patience, flexibility, humility, and plenty of forgiveness (especially towards one's self).  Starting up a flower farm has proven to be worthy of new adventure status.

Spring has not been disappointing us with a lack of curve balls... take the newly fallen (ok, falling) snow ON the new seedling room, for instance.  On the plus side, there IS a new roof for the snow to fall on, AND there is no snow IN the seedling room.  Now if it would only warm up enough to let us start to move seedlings INTO the seedling room.  Come on warmer weather, we need the space!

Being quite eco-minded in our approach to farming, it should be expected that we would extend that philosophy into the other items available from farmgirl.  So this weather has provided the perfect opportunity for me to work on some of them.  Farmgirl flowers & finds will be offering both hand-tied bouquets and bouquets that will come with vases.  Why not reclaim some steel cans and glass jars, and re-purpose them into some of the vases you offer?  Exactly.  It has been very rewarding to take materials that have served their intended purpose, and give them a second chance to be useful.  The vases pictured here have been finished with chalk paints.  Ultimately, there will be a variety of vases to choose from, made out of a range of materials, running from fresh and simple to the more elaborate.  Have ideas for, or images of, containers made with re-purposed materials that you would like to share? We would love to see your earth friendly vase suggestions.

"second chance" vases

"second chance" vases

Nor'easter Stella

On Tuesday, March 14, we were bestowed with a visit from a guest that we were not excited to host. Stella... 

Admittedly, we were expecting her, but her stay proved to be as frustrating as anticipated.  It's so hard, so hard, to shift from SPRING! back to a mindset accepting of winter.  Granted, it is still March (one of our snowiest months), and yet the crashing temperatures and 20" of fresh, heavy snow that was left behind was... problematic.  Beautiful and so, so, unwanted - there were reports of hoop houses in the area being crushed under the weight.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, we were not one of them, as we had not yet put the plastic lid on the new outdoor seedling room.  But today, Dave is back at it.  Go, go, gadget mini greenhouse-ish structure!  Hurry!

Framing the Seedling Room with Stella

Framing the Seedling Room with Stella

Teenage seedlings

Teenage seedlings

Hurry!  The seedlings want a nice sunny spot, and we need more indoor space for the youngest of the seedlings.  It's time for the teenagers to get their own room ... out with you!  Fortunately, the seedling room can be supervised from the house, just in case an unruly party breaks out.

March

This month is aptly named.  It seems that this is exactly what we are doing.  Marching...  

Dianthus seedlings

Dianthus seedlings

Marching and planting...  Trays, and trays, and trays of peat moss blocks and seeds.  Trays of cooperating seedlings, and trays of obstinate 'come-on-what-is-taking-you-so-long?' seeds.  Trays on the floor, trays filling up rooms, trays waiting for seeds once we find more room.  

Marching and planting and watering...  So thirsty.  Everything is so thirsty.  Little seedlings like chirping baby birds, "can I have some more water?"  Water...  Top water... Bottom water... Too much water...  Time to water again...

Marching and planting and watering and building...  It feels like the March Hare has come for a visit, "No room, no room!"  We are doing our best to channel Alice, "There’s PLENTY of room!", now we just have to find it/make it/re-purpose it.

Farmgirl flowers & finds came into existance with snow already on the ground.  Granted, winter probably isn't the easiest season to start a flower farming business, and it would have been nice to have the fields and greenhouses ready to go last fall, but that fall preparation wasn't possible - and we weren't willing to wait another year.  So we are forging ahead, and dancing the dance of the creative problem solver.  Not having had last fall to prepare, we have anticipated some bottlenecks.

Project: Greenhouse lean-to

Project: Greenhouse lean-to

As I write this, Dave is outside crafting a home for some cool temperature loving seedlings.  We plan to relocate snapdragons, poppies, delphinium, larkspur, columbine, feverfew, and strawflower (they will be much happier out there, and it will free up valuable indoor space).  He is building a temporary greenhouse lean-to on a south facing wall where our dwindling wood pile used to be.  The mini greenhouse will provide valuable seedling growing space until we can get a new skin over the bones of the existing greenhouse.  These two spaces will be our workhorses as we wait for the ground to thaw.  At that time, it will be all about the beds and fields, preparing them for transplants.  Stay warm and think sunny thoughts!