So ... here I go on some of the more popular questions.
What do you do?
I wonder that myself ... a lot! I flower farm. Flower farming is different than gardening. You use lots of the same skills and knowledge but it is different.
So please don't call me a gardener ... a gardener plants 20 snapdragons ... we plant 850. And just to be clear ... we plant between 8000-10,000 annuals .... every year. And when I say we, I mean me. Honey handles the mulch .... I do the plugs and the planning.
Instead of planting flowers in beautifully arranged beds ... we grow them in rows. Just like an Iowa corn field. Most farmers use 4' wide rows so they can easily weed across the row. I am shorter so my rows are a little under 36" wide.
Many people use grass paths between the rows so they can mow. I use mulch ... mulch dries out a little quicker than grass, helps hold moisture and will eventually break down to add more organic matter to the garden.
Flower farmers also space their plants much closer than the tags recommend. We are trying to get the tallest stems, the most stems out of a fairly small area. So if the tag says to space 18" apart .... we may plant them 9" or at times even 4" apart. This is intensive gardening and does not work with all plants. It also requires incredibly fertile soil so we use compost, compost tea, chicken manure and other organic fertilizers to keep that soil working for us.
The average flower farmer can handle approximately one acre of flowers by themselves.
Because of the intense planting, the use of plant supports .... most weeding is done one way. On hands and knees.
Want to join me????
How do you charge for flowers?
A one gallon milk jug full of flowers is $20. Our average customer will get three large vases of flowers out of a jug.
If I don't think you have enough flowers .... I will send you back to the garden to get more.
Or I will stuff your jug for you!!
Don't make me do that! ;)
When do you open?
My stock answer is .... When God tells me to.
Seriously .... I really never know. We always hope to be filled with flowers by June 15th. But who would think that we would have frost in the forecast in mid-May??? So this year, it is totally a guessing game.
I usually have lots of flowers around the farm by the end of May. Normally, those are peonies, false indigo, lilacs, clematis..... perennial flowers. But this year, I think they will be later. The buds are small on the peonies .... and I have barely seen the false indigo.
We look for heat degree days. Days that seriously warm the soil. If you have your a/c on --- my flowers are happily growing. If you have a sweater on .... most likely, the flowers are shivering too. But unlike you, my flowers need more than a day or two to re-act to warm temperatures.
What are your hours?
Starting June first ..... we are open Thursday -Friday from 9 to 5, Saturday 9-3 and Sunday 12-3. We are closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
That being said ..... if I am home .... and if you stop by, I will happily help you. But it is the time I commit to my friends, family and our home. So please call ahead so I can plan.
Last year ... we started opening Thursday evenings until 8 pm. We need it to be light out ... so we are open Thursday evening from June 15th to August 15th. It is the perfect time to bring a picnic lunch and relax in the Iowa countryside.
What about tours and groups?
I love having groups on the farm but I need your help to make it a successful event for you. I need to know when you are coming and what your expectations are. Surprise group tours are not successful events!
We are a business ... with an employee count of 1-1/2 employees. So if you just drop in .... I may not have the time to give you the attention you want and deserve. Please let me do that for you.
There are charges for group events and tours. Please talk to me about your needs and I can give you the correct information.
So that's the FYI on the FAQ's for today.
Any more questions?? Drop me a note here .... or do the social media thing.
Whatever that is!