Thinking about a cutting garden... lots of questions.

katnip_ct(z6 CT)May 3, 2005

For about 6 years now,we have been starting seeds in our unheated plastic greenhouse. It's about 10 X 16'. Lots of mistakes the first few years, but with time comes experience:). I would like to try my hand at growing flowers for market but wonder if the 1.5 acres we have available would be enough? Also, would we need more greenhouses? And with a deer run through our property, is it even feasible? In the past, I have been slicing small slivers of Irish Spring soap and putting them RIGHT IN the sunflower buds to avoid that awful discovery of evenly chomped off sunflower heads upon waking up:( But how can you deter them on a large scale? And finally, how much money can you expect to make? I'm sure this is a difficult question to answer, but I'm just wondering if it's possible to make enough to live on or is it more for a hobby and some extra spending money? Thanks!

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Noni Morrison

KATNIP, I would say that you can grow a lot of flowers on 1.5acres If you put up a deer fence. I did mine right after the deer nnipped the tops out of all 12 of my newly planted fruit trees! It was sone way to get DH to part withthe money! Nothing ugly aBOUT DEER FENCING when it is surrounding a beautiful garden! I USED ANUMAL WIRE on 6' posts, then we wired on 10' rebar rods and ran wires at BOUT 8 nd 9ft. It has worked for 5 years now. I have roses and shrubs. growing along the insides of the fence.

AS TO AMOUNT OF MONEY MADE, IT WILL VARY WITH EACH PERSON;'S CIRCUMSTANCE. Fr my garden partner and I it is enough for some spending moneyh of our own and to buy plants for our gardens that our hubbies would see as luxuries. THre are others here who do make a living with their cutting gardens.

It will only work if you absolutely love growing the flowers though because otherwise it is as hard work as any other kind of farming, and you get to deal with not only deer, but blights, diseases imported with stock, weeds, tainted manure, etc. Always some new excitement, LOL.

For those of us who stick with it I think we all have a passion for growing things and for working outdoors...we have to!

IF you do have that passion and like making others happy with your work then it is worth the aching bones and susnburned arms. If you walk down the street and itch to cut the flowers along the way and arrange them, if you would rather go to a plant sale then a disco, if your idea of heaven is a day spent working in your gardens with no interruptions, and you just love starting seedlings in the greenhouse in January...then go for it!

I garden about 2 acres of mixed cutting flowers, shrubs, roses, and dahlias, and have 2 1/2 acres of woodland to pick greenery from. I have a small workroom with about 24' of grow lights. After they are ready to harden I move them to an unheated greenhouse starting in March. My unheated greenhouse is 8 X 8' and it works for me. I just keep rotating things through.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 9:05PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Catnip - As always, LizaLily's advice is excellent! In addition to her info, I have learned that you need to decide what you can grow, and how and where you want to market your flowers - basically a business plan. I started small and this year will have almost 2 acres planted between perennials, bulbs, and annuals. I'm adding woodies each year too.

I don't have a deer fence, but do have deer...and have found they ignore most things (but having a puppy/dog helps too!). I'm planting the things they don't eat around the perimeter both for wind blocks and as a deer deterent (butterfly bush, lilacs, hydrangea, tall hardy asters, sunflowers, etc.)

It is fun, but definitely hard work!
Good luck,
Wendy

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 2:18PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

If the established deer run goes right throught where you'll be planting, I doubt anything short of a fence and/or a dog will help. The dog needs to be outside all night to keep the deer out.

I made a thick perimeter of deer deterrents around my house garden to discourage the deer from coming in and eating the yummy roses, tulips, and other deer candy close to the house. No problem! They just stepped over, or trampled, the supposed deterrents on their way to the good stuff close to the house. And my dog, a good deer-chaser for years, got intimidated by a big buck (who we ate, eventually) and never chased a deer again. For a couple of years, there were no desirable-to-deer plants in my house garden at all, until I finally asked my husband to put up an electric fence. That works, every time, if constructed right. And it did, and does. I also have a plastic mesh deer fence around my raised cutting beds, which has worked perfectly also, but it's way more of an eyesore than the electric fence. I wouldn't have one close to the house for just that reason.

If you plan to try to make money at it, I strongly suggest an electric or mesh deer fence. Deer can eat up all your profits in one night, no problem. Or, if you're doing a wedding, and the day before when you're harvesting, you come out to find all the colors the bride wants, eaten, you're in big trouble. Of course, you don't have to do weddings! - and it's probably best not to do any until you know you have enough established plants, and have the timing of the annuals worked out well enough, to have enough of the right flowers at the right time.

It's hard work, but rewarding if you love flowers, if not financially. Not many people get rich at it. My very small flower business covers its own expenses, but when I figure out what I'm paying myself hourly, it's pretty sad - last time I checked, I was still below minimum wage! HOWEVER - I'm in a cold, erratic, difficult climate, which really jacks up expenses. And I only sell at one farmer's market.

I have somewhere between 1 and 2 acres in flowers - they are in different areas and difficult to measure.

Jeanne

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 10:55AM
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