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March Update

Posted by anniew 4-5/PA (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 12, 06 at 8:56

As a long time poster/reader who's been absent for several months due to computer problems, I am not sure if the monthly update has been forgotten or what. So, I'd like to know what others are doing.
I am still in the process of ordering some seed, although my main crops, sunflowers and zinnias are taken care of. I've started a CSA for the season, and offered a flower option. Although we filled our membership, only a couple have chosen to add flowers to their weekly share which is rather disappointing.
With all the scheduling for CSA veggies, I'm still wondering how much time I can put into a diversified flower crop. I sell at a farmers market and have a farmstand besides the CSA. I'm particularly wondering how many glad, lilies, dahlias and liatris I can fit into an already hectic planting schedule.
What's everyone else doing?
Ann


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: March Update

WELL, Ann, we are having a glorious day here after everything March could throw at us last week!, I bought 15 cubic yards of dairy compost which I am busy spreading and using to reshape and mound my rose garden. So this is partly for the artist in me, but I also sell the roses from these plants. IT is giving me great pleasure to correct something that has annooyed me for the 6 years it has been in place. Straight rows and paths just are not my style! Now they will be a sunken path wandering amoung flower covered mounds, each one a color arranement of roses, lilies, phormiums and other perennials. It will mean moving some roses but they can go into spaces that were paths before. And since they are just leafing out here I think they will make a fast recovery if they even notice they have been moved!

After a bit of lunch here I will move on to the lavender rose bed which is in a different area and feed and prune them and give them a good dose of alfalfa pellets.

Yesterday we planned a May 20th wedding that will be lavender callas, and purple tulips and hopefully lavender roses if I can get them to wake up and GROW! That bed has never done much so It will get great piles of dairy compost along with the feed and alfalfa. Also, this winter I had some trees cut that had been shading it for more of the day thenthey liked.

This weeks new inspiration is to set up a roadside stand at my house to sell my extra dahlia tubers as I dig and divide my 3 year old patch. I will be starting on that next month so not too soon to think about the stand and signs. I would really like to be able to sell largers bouquets out of my home then the $6 ones I sell at my stand. So I am thinking of starting out, (After the dahlia tubers are gone) with maybe 3 nice big ones like the ones we deliver to our customers for $15. I will also put up a sign there advertising our subscription service as we live on the south end of the island and may have visitors to the north of us who would like them delivered.

This road is on the north or my property and I have a nice spot under a big old maple where I don't think I would even need an umbrella. Eventually I would like to move my flower sales to my property and not have to run the 6 mile round trip several times a day. However, I see it taking several year of people getting use to me being here for that to happen. Atleast my new field will show up, hopefully in a blaze of colors this year to help advertise.

I have planted my larkspurs and nigellas and poppies but don't see anything up yet. Not surprising with the snow wind and cold rain this week.

My rows of daffodils and tulips are looking real healthy this year, no blight that I can see yet, fingers crossed! I think it will be another 2 weeks until the daffs from the new planting are tall enough...the buds are sitting near ground level but growing taller by the day. That is alright. I picked a hundred daffs from the old plantings yesterday.

Sales have been very slow so far at the stand. Well, time for lunch and back to work!


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RE: March Update

WELL, Ann, we are having a glorious day here after everything March could throw at us last week!, I bought 15 cubic yards of dairy compost which I am busy spreading and using to reshape and mound my rose garden. So this is partly for the artist in me, but I also sell the roses from these plants. IT is giving me great pleasure to correct something that has annooyed me for the 6 years it has been in place. Straight rows and paths just are not my style! Now they will be a sunken path wandering amoung flower covered mounds, each one a color arranement of roses, lilies, phormiums and other perennials. It will mean moving some roses but they can go into spaces that were paths before. And since they are just leafing out here I think they will make a fast recovery if they even notice they have been moved!

After a bit of lunch here I will move on to the lavender rose bed which is in a different area and feed and prune them and give them a good dose of alfalfa pellets.

Yesterday we planned a May 20th wedding that will be lavender callas, and purple tulips and hopefully lavender roses if I can get them to wake up and GROW! That bed has never done much so It will get great piles of dairy compost along with the feed and alfalfa. Also, this winter I had some trees cut that had been shading it for more of the day thenthey liked.

This weeks new inspiration is to set up a roadside stand at my house to sell my extra dahlia tubers as I dig and divide my 3 year old patch. I will be starting on that next month so not too soon to think about the stand and signs. I would really like to be able to sell largers bouquets out of my home then the $6 ones I sell at my stand. So I am thinking of starting out, (After the dahlia tubers are gone) with maybe 3 nice big ones like the ones we deliver to our customers for $15. I will also put up a sign there advertising our subscription service as we live on the south end of the island and may have visitors to the north of us who would like them delivered.

This road is on the north or my property and I have a nice spot under a big old maple where I don't think I would even need an umbrella. Eventually I would like to move my flower sales to my property and not have to run the 6 mile round trip several times a day. However, I see it taking several year of people getting use to me being here for that to happen. Atleast my new field will show up, hopefully in a blaze of colors this year to help advertise.

I have planted my larkspurs and nigellas and poppies but don't see anything up yet. Not surprising with the snow wind and cold rain this week.

My rows of daffodils and tulips are looking real healthy this year, no blight that I can see yet, fingers crossed! I think it will be another 2 weeks until the daffs from the new planting are tall enough...the buds are sitting near ground level but growing taller by the day. That is alright. I picked a hundred daffs from the old plantings yesterday.

Sales have been very slow so far at the stand. Well, time for lunch and back to work!


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RE: March Update

All seeds have been received. Most sown (except celosia). Lilly bulbs are ordered. Today I order bareroot woods rose and dogwood (1 gallon sales). We are cutting so much curly/pussywillow I am now selling to 2 other wreath makers. This month I could make as much $ as the whole 6 months of growing/harvesting of flowers!! Last week I took a tour of a big rose grower by Salt Lake City (8 acres under glass), yes not the biggest but still fun. I had to buy a few dozen for the house.

Bryan


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RE: March Update

Welcome back, Ann!

We've had a particularly rainy, snowless winter. We'd get a few inches of snow, and it would melt. So it's been brown and ugly out there. I was delayed by one week on putting my hoophouse cover on (had a cold), and surprise, surprise, a few days before the rescheduled day, we got 8 inches of snow! So I put the cover on in the snow, as usual. Somehow the crunchy snow underfoot just feels right on hoophouse-covering day. It keeps me from getting very muddy, anyhow. One year my husband shoveled two feet of snow out of the way so we could get the cover on. That was a little too much.

So now the hoophouse is thawing out. I still need to finish hooking up all the fans, louvers, heater, and thermostats, but I'll get that done today. Then I need to put shavings on the floor, clean up the beds a bit, and add good stuff to them, then hook the drip system back up. I don't even have the shavings or good stuff yet, but plan to have that done in the next couple of days also. I've already got a few lettuce seedlings that really NEED to be planted out in there, sooner than I'll have it ready, so we'll see if they make it. I'm astonished at how fast lettuce germinates and grows. (My sister always told me she was glad she grew veggies and I grew flowers, because flowers are such a pain to germinate. I'm beginning to understand what she was talking about). Some Amazon Neon and Sweet dianthus are already germinated and waiting, but they aren't close to really needing to be planted. I've got a few greenhouse snaps sown but not up yet, ditto a bunch of peppers. I've finished planning and graphing my veggie and flower beds, and seed-starting schedule is all made out. I don't know if I really need to do all that anymore, since I'm not going to market. Perhaps such organization isn't necessary, but it's a habit. It does help to know how many seeds of each thing to start, so I'm not wasting a bunch of seeds and effort and germination space.

Narcissus are starting to come up in the house garden. Nothing else is moving yet; there are still patches of snow and good hard freezes every night. My raised beds still have snow on them and are mostly frozen solid. It's still very, very early spring here, or maybe late winter. But what's really important is that the ski mountain has tons of snow, so the skiing is still very good!

Jeanne


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RE: March Update

Hi Everyone! Like Ann, I also have been computerless for the last few months. Sure am glad I have re-hocked up again. I didn't realize how much valuable info I was missing out on until I no longer had it available to me. Seed orders have been placed, recieved and started. I love this time of year. Even though everything outside is dull, dreary, and muddy....I just can't wait for everything to get GROWING. I am especially pleased with the germination and growth of my Dianthus SWEETIE MIX. They have already outgrown the Amazon Dianthus. Even in the field last year I liked them a bit better. A good deal of seedlings have already been started: Dianthus, snaps, feverfew, calendula, ageratum, statice, salvia snow nymph and gruppenblau, asters, and also my celosia and gomphrena. I find I have to start alot of my seedlings earlier than most people , as I grow most on the cool side. My plants are slightly smaller and take a bit longer,, but they are definetly stockier. It works for me!!!! I'm still debating about ordering the karma dahlias(tubers). Two yeas ago I orders them but the company sent me substitutes instead(Bishop of something or another) I was very upset. Didn't grow them last year, but lot of people were looking for dahlias in the bouquets. Well back to work, still have to clean out greenhouses #1 and #2. Greenhouse #3 is just about done. I use that one for growing early tomatoes and cukes. I did try growing some early flowers in there but something went drasticly wrong. I guess MY flowers are best grown in the field. Happy growing, HEIDI


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RE: March Update

Hi all!!
The weather has been SO warm here (70-80 the past two days!) and yet we have not been able to break ground yet, so I am pining and worrying about schedules. We are living 45 minutes away from our house and land, and my husband is working fast and furious at our house renovation, so the tilling will have to wait until this weekend. Sigh. We have to get all the drywall and electrical done this week, so that the plumber can come and do his magic. I know that this year is different for us because of our house situation, so I just keep reminding myself to be patient and see things long term, and see this, our first year, as a complete learning year. And learning we are doing!!

I am really inspired about the seed starting process, because my plants are all seeming pretty healthy. It makes me want a hoophouse, because I keep thinking how well they'd do in there if they're doing this well under lights. I'm excited to get these plants in the ground!!

We laid out our beds, and that was pretty exciting -- and also hard. I have new respect for surveying equipment. It was a real challenge to get everything at the right angle and distance. Creating a uniformly four foot wide path that's a couple hundred feet long and perpendicular to its cross path was a little mind-bending for me, but we did it. I had the help of a friend and her daughter, who watched my 2year old son. Once we got the main paths done, the rest is going pretty smoothly.

I am enjoying this forum very much, and look forward to continued learning about everyone here. Hopefully our next update will be that we are moved in (our move-in date is April 15) and preparing to plant in earnest!

April


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RE: March Update

Hi everyone,
I'm behind this year...we've had a cold winter, had 5" of snow on Saturday, so, I'm a month behind where we were last year (but it was dry and too warm!), so go figure! Last year by this time I had picked 100's of bunches of daffodils, and this year right now they're only about 4" tall! I have the seeds in hand, but its too cold to start them in my unheated barn...so will wait a bit. But, the weather is allowing additional organizational and cleaning up tasks to be done inside! I think I'll panic when the warm weather sets in though...and it all has to be done...now!

Take care,
Wendy


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RE: March Update

I have picked about 400 daffs so far but sales have been very slow. Most of mine are going into large bouquets for subscription customers. I picked the first 60 from the new planting today...not sure what variety until they open a bit more as I was late getting my tags in place. These might be the 100 plain yellow daffs I Planted to go with all the other fancy varieties. I have had a good return of Slim Whitman and Ice Follies from last year's planting. Found the first of my tulips (planted for this year) to be able to feel the bud among the leaves so that was exciting!

I picked branches of my giant pink pussywillow...the leaves that is, that are leafing out nice. It bloomed in Jan-Feb. After I am through using the leaves I will cut the whole bush back. Brian, how far from the ground should I cut it? It seems to grow about 20' a year! I also have returning hyacinths starting. We like the spindlier flowers of the older plants as they are not quite so overwhelming fragrance-wise but add a prety blue note that helps sell the bouquets. I am also using flowering plum (Bleiriana), forsythia, or pear blossoms in my bouquets this week.

And wonder of wonder, I have sprouting with my bupleurum for the first time ever! Anyone who can tell me what buplurum wants? It is under the lights right now.


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RE: March Update

Hello everyone!! I'ts nice to be back and see some of the familiar names here. I got back from our family vacation a little over two weeks ago and it was in the 50's and all the snow was gone. We really didn't have much of a winter, warmest on record with very little snowfall. So I was thinking I was gonna get a jump on things this year. WRONG!! We have had three snow storms since we've gotten back accumulating a total of 27 inches of snow with huge drifts. So all I can do is hurry up and wait.

The Christmas wreath venture went really well last year, way better than I had expected, thanks for the tips Bryan. So, with that success, I had big expectations for my Red Twig Dogwood heart wreaths for Valentines day. Unfortunately it was a bust, people don't decorate for Valentines day like they do for the fall holidays. So, my extended family and neighbors got heart wreaths as gifts for Valentines day. I'm still going to pursue selling wreaths during the cut-flower season and see how it goes.

I've just finished ordering all my annual seeds and I am meeting with my shrub salesman in an hour. I'm going to add a few new woody perrenials this year. One is Viburnum opulus Xanthocarpum. It produces golden yellow berries instead of the normal red ones. I'm going to put in 200 of them this year. Another new one will be a bi-colored pussy willow, 100 of them. I'll be adding another 250 Hydrangeas to the field I've already got going, 100 Pee gees, 100 Pink Diamonds and 50 Annabelles. I'll also be adding 100 more Quill Mock Orange, 100 Bridal wreath, 200 snowball viburnums, 40 Blue Muffin viburnums, and 100 Illex Red Winterberry to the ones I've already got going. I'm not going to add any more Lillacs this year.

I look forward to everybody's progress this year as well as all the valuable tips I get from you all.

Happy growing,

Steve


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RE: March Update

lizalily, cut it back to the main branch. It depends too how you want your branches next year. For example if you just thin your tree, it will have stems that branch out better next year (great for wreaths). If you take everything down to a stump or ground each year, you will get a 4' to 10' straight whip (which are good for florist bundles).

Steve, Good to see you back! Don't you just love all the snow? NOT. I have been working in it as best as possible. In fact I have 40 10 clamp curlys to drop off today. What type is a bi-color pussywillow? I know the salix discolor goes from white to red to yellow. That sounds like a lot. I just ordered holly and dogwood from the prison. They have a nursery that does bare-root for about $1 each. I will get some more pictures to you in April of our wild pussywillow harvest.

Good sowing/planting to all.

Bryan


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RE: March Update

I HAVE PLANTS UP! I planted larkspur, agrostemma and nigellas about 3 weeks ago and today for the first time I can see little seedlings! How exciting is that!

I also started the feverfews in my greenhouse and I think every seed germinated! Wish I could share my extras with someone...No way do I need that many! IT is hard to toss green growing things and not give them a chance to have fun in the sun!


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RE: March Update

I got all of my shrubs ordered yesterday. Ouch! that hurt the bank account. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to order any Curly Willow, my supplier was out of everything including potted stuff. Bryan, do you have a name of a supplier where I can get bare root Curly willow stock? I think those pussy willows are the same kind because what you are describing is pretty much what it looks like to me.

The snow is slowly melting and I'm doing busy work to pass the time. My wife also has dragged me into her "Restore the barn" project. We have an old turn of the century 80' X 40' barn that needs a few major structural repairs. Overall it's in pretty good shape but the stuff that needs fixing is pretty involved. It's a nice old, hand hued, post and beam structure and it will look great when it's done. The problem is everytime you start to fix something it opens up a whole new can of worms.

Take care,

Steve


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RE: March Update

Steve, email me your address again and I can send you some curly cuttings. Let me know how many thousands you want.

It is going crazy now. Trying to get everything cut for wreaths, sowing, and to top it off I am the vendor coordinator for one of the FMs so I am doing the new guide lines, application and map. I figure for all the hard work I am at least going to give myself 1st choice of booth spaces.

Bryan


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RE: March Update

Bryan,

I'll e-mail you privately with my address and a few questions.

Sounds like you might be at the point where your eyes are bigger than your stomach. I'll be at the overwhelmed feeling in about a month. It's the start of breeding season for my birds and I have a small window of opportunity to convince the hawks that I'm a desirable enough mate so I can collect semen from the male and inseminate the females. I just took all of the praire seeds that I was cold-moist stratifying out of the refrigerator and sowed them in flats today. So, breeding season, seed germination and shrub planting will all hit about the same time. That's about the time my wife starts to think about calling the guys in the white coats.

Take care,

Steve


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RE: March Update

Steve, this is probably a stupid question, but why can't the males inseminate the females themselves the old-fashioned way? Are they potentially too violent?

Heartbreak at my house, AGAIN. Now that all the snow is melted and the front yard clear, I see that there are literally HUNDREDS of vole trails all over it and most of the blooming perennials (peonies, phlox, roses, iris) are undercut and dead. The varmints are active right through the winter, under the snow. They eat the roots right out from under the plant. The plant will be standing at a tilt, and when I go investigate, it comes off in my hand, with no roots left whatsoever. They already took all the bulbs, except narcissus, out last winter. Those $&!!%&@#@% critters won't go into a trap and don't reliably eat poison. I'm considering letting my front yard go back to native forest floor, except for the blue spruces and weeping willow and sugar maple I planted. The voles did eat a shrubby maple's roots, so I suppose the sugar maple isn't safe. I'm tired of fighting. The only deterrent seems to be steer manure, applied in the spring and the fall, in generous amounts. I don't think I want to have to heavily manure my entire front yard twice a year. I already do that in my mini-orchard and that's enough work. I do have lots of lovely raised beds that are lined with hardware cloth, but they're nowhere near the house. Sigh.

Jeanne


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RE: March Update

Jeanne, my dear, time for some hardware-cloth beds up near your house! You can't let the voles win! Just make one bed at a time and get it going, then on to the next one. Slow and steady wins the race,as I Kept telling myself this morning!How about getting a whole family of homeless kittens to be outside vole eaters too? We have a vole left on the ramp without its head or guts most mornings from our one outside cat..we;;. if you multiply that by half a dozen? :-)

Been working slow and steady here this morning. :Loaded the stand with my gorgeous daffodil bouquets...Love the bulbs from Daffodil Depot! Came home and set out to find foliage for the next batch. I Have half a bucket of salmon berry in bloom, and the other half is full of mahonia flowers..been slow work as I snip off the prickly leaves off each stem as I pick it. Set out to find what was blooming along the road edge and met my new neighbor next door so exchanged daffodils for flowering quince and had a nice chat. Just in for a snack then back to the ˙ard stuff, rearranging my rose bed. IT is half done and I Planted my 7 new David Austin roses yesterday.(SHakespeer 2000, Golden cellebration, Jude the Obscure, Molyneoux, Portmerion, and Blythe Spirit, in memory of my cousin Blythe who died of cancer.


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RE: March Update

I feel a little guilty listening to all the work most of you are doing right now. I am plugging along at things though, my sun porch is getting filled up with flats of seedlings I've started, and our weather has been exceptional, although a little scary. It's just not normal for us to have 64 degrees the end of March, 1st of April. And something that NEVER happens is dry soil at this time of year. We haven't had snow for a while, there is none anywhere in the field, along the edge, or in the woods. We are wide open, no mud, just dry soil. There is rain forecast for this evening and I hope we get it. All the fencing is up around my tulips to keep the deer out, and I've been weeding some beds, getting ready to spread manure. My husband has been working on my greenhouse the past few weeks, and we are almost ready for the plastic. I can't help think this weather is going to change back to winter at any moment, it's just so weird to have spring hit this early, and this warm. I'm feeling phantom black flies biting. Ha. Not a one in site, but if this weather keeps up, they'll soon wake up. Take care everyone, and be careful not too over do. We're too busy for injuries!
Cheryl


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RE: March Update

Jeanne,

The North American Goshawk has a propensity to kill the male in a captive breeding situation. In the wild she will run him off after copulation to go and catch something to eat for her in order to prove he's worthy of raising a family with her. The only way to do it is to use imprinted birds(birds that were raised from chicks) so that they see us as their mates. There are only a handful of semen donating males in the country. My kids love helping raise the chicks and I love watching them do it.

Sorry to hear about the vole problem, for me it's pocket gophers. There's always some critter trying to eat our flowers.

A quick lily question, Once the lily's you sent me come up I have no Idea how much to cut so as to not kill the plant. When is the best time to cut and how much stem do I take?

Nice to see yo still contributing to the GW eventhough your out of the "business" and turned ski bum.

Steve


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RE: March Update

Aw, heck, Steve, I've always been a ski bum! The only thing that changes is what I do when I'm NOT skiing. This Sunday is closing day at our ski mountain, but that's okay, I'm more into gardening now. Besides, I don't really like to ski slushy spring snow.

When to cut lilies sort of depends on who you're selling to. If it's florists, cut when the first flower is open or almost open. If you're selling direct to the customer, cut when the first one or two flowers are open. How much to cut is a matter of opinion and judgment. I find that with most Asiatics and Asiatic crosses, you can cut half of the plant and still have it come back bigger next year. If you cut two-thirds off, next year's plant might be the same size or possibly bigger, but it could also be smaller. If the particular variety has stems that aren't of satisfactory length, cut no more than one-third this year, even if you can't sell stems that short, and they'll be longer next year. I've never tried to cut more than half an Oriental, and in fact usually cut between one-third and half of the plant, because I've always wanted those to be bigger next year. That isn't necessarily good judgment, though, if you're selling them. It's hard to sell humongous 20-bud flower stems. As a rule of thumb, if you like the current size of the plant, cut half or less. If you want it to be bigger next year, cut one-third to half. There are some lily plants that are simply amazingly vigorous and you can cut them very low and still get a bigger plant next year. Golden Tycoon comes to mind. Cut those puppies SHORT! - leave a 1 - 1 1/2 foot stem, and they'll STILL be bigger next year. They can get too big, so you don't want to let them get too happy. There's another yellow I sent you, I can't remember its name, that is much less vigorous. I wouldn't cut more than 1/3 of those. There is an orange I sent you, Volendam, that's on the very-vigorous side too, but it doesn't develop overly-big flower heads, so there's no need to cut it really short unless you have a use for 4-foot stems (it's tall). Lilies are heavy feeders; if you can't fertilize them enough, they'll be less vigorous. All in all, it takes a couple of years to figure out who to cut short and who not. It helps if you take notes. You can always cut some of each variety short and some long, and see how they come back next year.

Jeanne


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