Winter Work for Flower Farmers

The winter, for me, is just a different part of the cycle. Most days, I still don't feel like I can quite squeeze in all of the things I hoped to do for the farm and design business. I also try to catch up on errands and appointments that we can't fit into the summer, and I take on part time work as a substitute teacher (about 1 day a week). 

Here is a month-to-month outline of winter projects and activities for our farm:

This year, from early to mid October, we ran a late tulip and narcissi bulb sale (online). Then, for a couple of weeks from the end of bulb planting time (late October-early November) to Thanksgiving, I made and sold indoor wreaths with the flowers we dried from the summer. These seemed to be very popular with customers and sold quickly at market and online. I'll plan to allocate more space for these flowers next year, based on the excitement for them. 

Dusty miller, strawflower, and statice wreath for an early November farmer's market. 

Dusty miller, strawflower, and statice wreath for an early November farmer's market. 

From the week of Thanksgiving through Christmas, we were full steam ahead with holiday wreaths that we sold locally at a winter farmers' market at Sugar House Creamery in Upper Jay, NY and online. We also added a favorite tool and signature hand-made gardening aprons to our online store.

A tulip bulb shipment heading out the door last October.

A tulip bulb shipment heading out the door last October.

Around Thanksgiving, wedding floral design inquiries for the Summers of 2018 and 2019 picked up substantially, and they kept me busy almost every day. The deposits for those contracts help make sure that the farm keeps moving ahead and that orders for seeds, compost, potting soil, etc. can be made now. They also help with winter capital improvements to the farm - like better insulation in the root cellar where we keep bulbs and improvements to our shed outside as we transition it into a small design studio and farm store. 

I also grew our first amaryllis and paperwhites. Next year, I hope to be able to offer them for holiday sales and winter weddings. -Yep! There are gorgeous, seasonally appropriate flowers that we can have here, in the frosty Adirondacks, for winter weddings, too. So- if you've got a passion for sustainability and an interest in fresh cut flowers for your winter wedding next year, please be in touch! Let's make natural, beautiful, effortless winter wedding design a new trend in the ADKs. 

This month, I kept busy with wedding proposals, seed starting and dahlia propagation, substitute teaching work and our first big dahlia tuber sale. Each year, I buy some new tubers, hold some in storage until we plant out, and start some early for cuttings. Taking cuttings is simple- but it takes time- about a month in a sunny heated space (or under grow lights) to get the first viable stems for cutting. Dahlias may be propagated this way until mid-April (for us anyways!) for plants that will bloom in the summer. After then, you can keep taking cuttings, but the plants will likely only develop tubers that can be saved for blooming plants the following year. For a blog post on dahlia cuttings, click here

February brings the onset of much more seed sowing. And perhaps a few more wedding and event contracts for 2018 if we have room on the calendar (now booking more 2019 events!). We are offering bouquet punch cards as our CSA program this year, so there will be a push to inform customers of that option early in the month in time for Valentine's Day. 

I'd like to say that there were a couple of organized weeks of seed ordering and bed planning, but in reality I was working on that periodically over the last few months. I ordered the first seeds for this season in October, I think. But I'm still finding some here and there that we just have to try....And so the cycle goes.