A Little Market Gardening In Northern Michigan

thinman(Z5 MI)September 13, 2009

Some of you have been kind enough to take an interest in my growing of cut flowers and selling them at our local farmers' market, so here are photos of a few things around here this summer.

Some zinnias and snapdragons from a few weeks ago. The snaps are now done for the year.

Some amazing Digitalis Camelot. I started it from seed in early spring, and it bloomed great guns in August. There are still a few.

About 120 sunflowers that I cut last week.

My humble market display


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I was hoping you would post some pictures for us to enjoy this year. They are just beautiful. I hope you had a very successful season.

Do you grow any everlastings? I know one huge market gardener who does and sells lots of dried bouquets and sprays and wreaths.

Do you think you will ever expand into vegetables?

I accidentally found out this summer that one of the longest blooming plants I have is the old heirloom Snow on the Mountain. It is a variegated plant grown mostly for the contrast of the leaves. I broke off a stem accidentally and just stuck it in water and it lasted at least a week. I was very surprised.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 5:32AM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

How lovely!
I am so envious of the foxglove. Well, truth be told, envious of all.

Here, what isn't fried is chewed. Y'all must not have as many insects as we have.
We have had 6" of rain in 5 days, so things a looking better.
I doubt that will be a drought breaker, but nice to have.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 8:06AM
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Nell Jean

Gorgeous! I wouldn't call that an humble market display; it's certainly to be proud of.

Our former neighbors had relatives who lived in Michigan and spent their winters somewhere along the Gulf Coast. I can understand why they wanted to go home when spring broke.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 11:13AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Now that's impressive, looks like you had a good growing season. I really like the way you've displayed your flowers, I can see where you would sell out quickly.
What all did you grow this year? Going to add others to the list for next year? AND...the wire mesh on the snaps, is that to stop them from flopping or to keep the stems straight?


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 11:36AM
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beautiful, I wish you lived my me..

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 11:59AM
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I forgot to comment on the fabulous healthy foxgloves! Weren't these the plants you were worried about early in the season?

They turned out great.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 3:44PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Glenda, what a memory you have. Yes the digitalis are the same plants that looked like they were barely making it back in April.

I sure don't have anything to complain about now, do I?

The only everlasting I grow is statice, that I use as a filler in bouquets. I have a lot of it this week, so I think I'll see if I can sell a few bunches for drying. And speaking of veggies, I'm planning on adding some tomatoes for market next year. I think those are pretty good money-makers, and the labor has to be less than cut flowers and making bouquets.

Kathy, thanks, and how great that you got some decent rain. That has to give you all some hope. We do have bugs here, but thank God they're not Texas bugs! :-) Our cool summer this year wasn't the best for growing, but the silver lining in that cloud is I think it slowed the bugs down quite a bit.

Thanks, Nell. Summers here are often wonderful, but winter on the gulf coast sounds like a great plan to me.

Hey, Annette, thanks. Here's what I grew, or tried to, this year.
Ageratum, blue and white; Amaranth, Autumn's Touch and Opopeo; Celosia; Corn flowers; Bells of Ireland; Cosmos; Craspedia; Daisies; Dianthus, Amazon and Sweet Williams; Digitalis; Heliopsis; Highlander millet; Kale; Purple Coneflowers; Purple Majesty Millet; Rudbeckia; Snapdragons; Statice; Sunflowers, six kinds; and Zinnias.

I'll be adding and subtracting next year.

The mesh (actually plastic) around the snaps is to keep them from getting knocked over. It's probably not really necessary, but I had read that if they do get knocked over, the tips will start turning skyward before you know it, and there go the straight stems.

Keesha - thanks. I wish you were a customer of mine!


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 6:53PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

TM, I don't know about your neck of the woods but Garlic is a big seller at our farmers markets. Dahlias make good cut flowers too, for bouquets the miniatures (under 4") mix well with other types of flowers. I love, love, love your Purple Millet.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 7:16PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Oh, that is really interesting. I'm very intersted in the netting you are using - keeps plants nice and straight?
I really enjoyed seeing you garden in the rows with the flowers. A few years ago my Mom and I went to visit a man in Markham Ontario, his name was Carmen and he's now since passed. Carmen grew all his flowers in rows and that fascinated me. I think maybe he had grown up propagating and selling, but in his 90's he was just giving. Now, I never did ask him if he also grew for cut flower production (or his dad may have, since Carmen said he grew flowers the way his dad did, in rows).

Thanks Thinman!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 12:14AM
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How nice! It makes me want to grow more flowers for cutting next year. Your market display looks very enticing.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 8:28AM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

Ok, it's all beautiful. But what I want to know, did you use your seed planting contraption for the sunflowers? I'd love to do a wall of sunflowers in the backyard like that. Direct sown or started in the greenhouse?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 5:58PM
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Oh TM I am SO glad I checked in over here !! WOW what a great display of your talent for growing plants. The flowers are just beautiful ! WOW again. If I lived closeby I can tell you that I would have a bunch of your bouquets every week. I can't believe your pretty display and those prices are fantastic bargains.

I so look forward to seeing more of your bounty. c

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 8:15PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Annette - I'm thinking seriously of growing some dahlias next year. There is a flower farm in southern Michigan that does a lot of them and their website really has me tempted. They also sell the dahlia tubers.

GGG - Rows of flowers are pretty far from cottage gardening, but I'm basically flower farming, so it's a good way to go.

Thanks, Schoolhouse. You should grow more for cutting next year. All it takes is seeds. :-) One of my market customers has told me that she grows flowers at home, but can't bear to cut any, so she buys mine.

Thanks, Token, and yes, I absolutely used my homemade seeder to plant the sunflowers. It worked great, though not very quickly. I used it for pumpkins, squash, and corn too.

Caroline - thank you! You're right about the prices being bargains. I've been told more than once that my prices are too low, so I'm going to let them rise a bit next year. I'm getting to the point where the income will have to go up some to make all the work worthwhile.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 10:51PM
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BecR(zone 9 CA 19)

TM---WOW gorgeous bouquets, great prices, and what green thumbs and fingers you have!!! lol I'm not a little jealous of the masses and rows of seemingly perfectly healthy flowers (and pumpkins, etc.) you are able to grow---and from seed no less!

I couldn't seem to keep the one single pumpkin seedling alive, that I lovingly purchased, planted and practically hovered over this spring and summer. Was so excited to have a pumpkin or two for my 2 grandaughters for Halloween, but alas, guess it just wasn't meant to be. It got some kind of weird stem disease early on and finally keeled over after putting on very little growth--although it did produce a few blossoms, and we were excited over that. Can you say Major Disappoinment!!! :(

Ah well, will have to live vicariously through yours and others achievements in the jardin, at least this year.

Would love to see more, especially anyone growing pumpkins!!


    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 1:58PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Thanks, Becky. Yes, I can definitely say Major Disappointment. I can even say Major Disappointment's superior officer, General Disappointment, which, luckily, hasn't happened lately. How sad that your pumpkins didn't come through for you. I'd be happy to show you a shot of my pumpkins, but they are all covered with chicken wire to try to keep at least some of them from getting devoured by the stinkin' deer. The deer have even chewed a few pumpkins right through the holes in the chicken wire. They couldn't eat them, but they could ruin them for selling.

I'm surprised you didn't hear me cursing them out in CA. My four year old grandson was walking through the garden yesterday saying "Stupid bugs, stupid deer!"

This isn't pumpkins, but Annette will like it, I think.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 8:33PM
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BecR(zone 9 CA 19)

Another great shot, TM.

And YES, I would love to see your pumpkins!

I tried to do an organic garden this year (with the pumpkins), but obviously that didn't work, for me.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 1:58AM
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blueberryhills(7 NW AL)

Thinman, you might try a small battery powered radio in your garden to keep the deer out. Our neighbors do it every year in their pea patch. Only they say it's better to tune it to talk radio instead of music.
Hope you get some great pumpkins!

We enjoyed your pictures. My kids were impressed with your market stand!

Is that some sort of tubing you have in your sunflower buckets?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 10:04AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Sigh.... that millet is gorgeous, it's got me thinking what a good accent plant it would make. Another thing to think about :o).


    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 11:00AM
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Here are a few pics of my set-up the last year I sold my goods at a local Farmer's Market:

1. My set up - I ended up adding another table so I could sell canning jars filled with fresh garden flowers. I sold pots of herbs and perennial plants too. Sunflowers, zinnias and gladiolas were the best selling flowers and I sold a LOT of Basil - Lemon Basil was the favorite.

My daughter on her lunch break joins me for awhile.

2. A Happy Customer and her granddaughter who were among my regulars

3. This is the granddaughter who accompanied her every week. This little girl bought my Purple Garden Phlox and Doublemint every week - she loved their fragrances. I gave her little tomatoes and blackberries to munch on. The children who came by were my favorite people & customers.

4. Here they are together.

5. Other loyal customers

I sold five varieties of Tomatoes, 2 kinds of Okra, 3 varieties of Cucumbers, New Potatoes, Crookneck and Zucchini Squash, Sweet Corn, Wild Blackberries, Wild Sand Plums, Hale's Best Musk Melons, Broccoli, Cabbages, and all kinds of cut, bagged herbs. I sold out every day.

I also sold my organically grown produce and Free-range Eggs to the wholefoods healthfood market just up the road from the Farmer's Market.

So, I know what hard, hot work it is. But in spite of all the work and challenges, it was a lot of fun too.

Hope you don't mind my posting these.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 10:44PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Annie, of course I don't mind. Your pics are right on topic and fun to see. I really like your brightly colored tags that you've used to identify things with. I'm going to have to look for some of those.

It is a lot of fun, isn't it? It's so gratifying to have people admire the things you have grown and prepared, and to plunk down cash for them.

Thanks for posting.

BBH, thanks for the tip. I'm willing to try anything. They are now breaking through my plastic mesh fence that has worked well all summer. Yikes! Yes, the tubes are lengths of 3 inch plastic pipe. They really help with keeping the flowers standing up.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 9:17AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Some pumpkins for Becky - my little pumpkin patch, festooned with chicken wire.

The tall stuff on the left is two kinds of amaranth: opopeo and autumn's touch. I use it in sunflower bouquets.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 12:29PM
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BecR(zone 9 CA 19)

Thanx for posting your pumpkin patch, TM! I'm green with envy. Bet your grandson is thrilled!! :) Becky

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 5:50PM
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BecR(zone 9 CA 19)

Nice to see those pix, Annie! Looks like alot of work, but a fun and rewarding time, too! :) Becky

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 5:51PM
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What the pics don't show is how freaking hot it was!

I had to get out in the garden at 5 a.m. to pick, bag, box and pack into the truck so that I could get to the farmer's market and be set up by 8 a.m. Then unpack the truck, set up the tables and displays, and get ready. The noon rush was the busiest time and the most fun time. The little children who accompanied their moms or grandparents were so darned cute and generally quite precocious children. We had indepth conversations about EVERYTHING. One little boy asked if he could have just one of my Shasta daisies. When I asked what he was going to do with it, he replied that there was a girl in his Pre-K class that he was in love with and he wanted to impress her (his very words). We talked for awhile and I told him that when his grandparents were ready to leave, if he would come back by I would give him one, so it wouldn't wilt in the heat. He said,"Why thank you! That is so thoughtful of you!" Five years old. I found that most of the children who came to the farmer's market LOVED fresh veggies and fruit. They were very intelligent and had incredible vocabularies. They were very knowledgeable about a good many subjects. What a testiment that good food grows good brains.

The other best groups who were customers were the handicap folks, the college students from OSU, and the foreign students and teachers. I was the only vendor selling organic produce and vine-ripened fruit. I offered free printed recipe sheets for things like zucchini bread, and recipes showing how to use the produce & herbs I sold. These contributed to selling many of my wares. I also offered specific helpful information on using herbs for seasonings, as a dietary alternative to salt for people who were on special dietary restrictions.

Being knowledgeable about my customer's needs and wants also expanded into becoming aware of the various cultural cuisines - a bonus. I knew what each culture would be looking for to buy and they would come back time after time because of my knowledge about their foods. They often came by to give me recipes to share with others or just for me to try. Some came by to offer me seeds of fruit or herbs to grow that they said I would be able to sell...and I did!

It was extremely competitive. It was a lot of fun. I helped others and I learned a lot from them too. It was very rewarding.


I set out little bowls of fruit and small tomatoes so people could 'sample' them before buying. This worked really well. The little kids came every day to "sample".

    Bookmark   September 21, 2009 at 12:27PM
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Though we are a farming country, we don't have markets like your "farmer market". I love it. I missed going to one last time I was in the States. Thanks so much, TM and Annie, for posting photos of your set-ups at the market so that I could be able to see.

More photos next time, please, please.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 9:02AM
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