The fall has been flying by at Quince Blossom Ridge, as I’m sure it does for so many flower farmers. Late August brought slightly cooler temperatures, the departure of the Japanese beetles and the first harvests of our QBR roses!
When planning to use roses for cut flower sales, the health of plant should be the primary concern, particularly in the first year. We had been hopeful that after spending the spring feeding and weeding and disbudding the plants, they would be ready to harvest this fall.
Disbudding (removing the flower buds before blooming) pushes the energy that would have gone to growing that flower, back into the plant. We kept a constant disbudding regimen throughout the spring and summer while maintaining a careful eye on the overall health of the plants. Once they formed sturdy stems and doubled in size, they should be ready to harvest from.
We have been beyond grateful to finally be able to enjoy these beauties and share them with our clients!
Goodbye Old House, Hello New Sheds!
When we first purchased the property there was a small, old house hidden within a circular grove of trees at the end of the driveway. The house had been abandoned for decades and was a serious state of disrepair. While we love old things and always try to work with what we can, especially if it is antique or vintage, we had no intentions of keeping the house.
So finally after months of it looming over our future ceremony grove, we finally were able to take it down and clear the space! We have visions of a lush white and green garden surrounded by large, old trees — including our the specimen southern red oak that we first fell in love with when we purchased the property (and included in our branding!).
In the mean time, Dan has been busy building two sheds on the farm side of the property. One will house our well tank and tools, the other will become our walk-in flower cooler! We are always looking to make our spaces at The Ridge (even the farm spaces) feel a bit more landscaped and finished. More to come on this in the coming months!
I have always been partial to fall as my favorite season. Beyond loving the shift from sweltering six a.m. harvests in the field to crisp mornings layered in sweaters and scarves, it is the change of colors that really lightens my soul. Harsh pinks and reds in flowers soften to rusty and coppery tones. The leaves change from late summer electric greens and yellows to umber, goldenrod and burgundy. The shift in the late day light calms my anxious end-of-season energy, lulling me into a cozy and peaceful state.
We had high hopes for dahlias this year!
For those who aren’t familiar with dahlias, one of the major reasons they are an extremely popular flower to grow is that they self-multiply. They grow by tubers (like a potato) or cuttings taken from a mother plan and then over the season develop more tubers. A single tuber or cutting can produce a clump of 5-10 individual tubers which can later be divided and planted on their own.
After growing dahlias for the last several years both at home and at Eco I was confident that we had a plan in place to get a better yield than ever before! But nature seemingly had a different plan. Perhaps it was our lack of planning a more consistent watering schedule before we had the well or just the daily work of running the farm and continuing to balance that with our day jobs that really made the difference. Either way, the growth was delayed significantly through the fall and we did not have harvestable stems until late September, which is almost the end of the growing season for them.
Dahlias are not cold hardy. So as every dahlia grower knows, the fall can be a time full of abundance. It also is a time to constantly be monitoring the weather and falling temperatures. A light frost can take out some of the more delicate plants and a full/hard frost will turn them black kill them to the ground. (The tubers will remain intact and should be dug up from the ground to store in a cool, sheltered place for the winter.)
Frostmas 2022 and the end to our first year!
As flower farmers, we refer to this as “frostmas”, the term used to describe the sudden end of the tender annual/heat loving annual production for the year. It can be a welcome end to a long stretch of hectic days of harvesting for this year and seed starting/planting for the following year. It can also be an early end to the growing and selling season, which can have a severe impact on a farm’s ability to generate income.
Our frostmas came a few weeks earlier than anticipated (the second week of October) and probably only a few days shy of our first big dahlia harvest for the year. We monitored the weather for days leading up to the cold snap and hoped the temperatures would hold out just a little longer. And while it was a deeply frustrating and abrupt end to our growing season it also allowed to say to ourselves that it was finally time to slow down after what felt like a marathon year.
It is really hard for us to imagine that we are finally at the end of our first full growing year. This year simultaneously crawled and flew by! From starting with an empty grass and thistle covered field to around half an acre of planting beds and hundreds of roses, peonies and dahlias –it has been a very productive year.
In a few weeks we will dig up the dahlias and store them for winter. We will tidy up the beds, clean and sharpen our secateurs and spades and cover any of our tender crops that will need protection from the winter winds. Then, finally, we will put our feet up for a little while and enjoy the holiday season with friends and family (and of course, start planning for all of the exciting ideas we have in store for next year).
October 15, 2022
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