Saturday, January 30, 2016

3 Easy Annuals Every NEW Flower Farmer Can Grow

Looking out over the raised cut flower garden at the perennial beds, ( out old greenhouse which is being replaced with a flower studio) and our hen house to the left.
 Are you dreaming of a flower farm of your own some day? I'll let you in on a little secret. You don't need multiple acres to begin. In fact, a small suburban plot can serve as the perfect trial ground for your " someday" farm. I farm my garden on less than 1/2 acre where I grow many different annuals, perennials, herbs, and flowering shrubs. I grow all of my annual cut flowers in 4 x 12 raised beds, 12 inches deep. This makes planting, weeding, deadheading and harvesting manageable for beginners. 
Here are a few things to consider before you sow those first seeds.

Start with just a few raised beds to build confidence.
  •  Make sure you plant in an area that gets a minimum of 7 hours of daylight.
  •  Have your soil tested. Fast growing summer annuals need a nutrient rich soil to thrive. I order a horticultural mix  from our local landscape center. It arrives premixed and ready for planting flowers, herbs, and veggies. 
  • Determine your water needs. Will you rely on nature, install a drip system or, will you hand-water your garden?  I hand-water everything ( and rely on frequent rainfall) here in New England. I own a 100' garden hose that reaches every corner of the garden.
Zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias, gladiolus, and pumpkin on a stick, ( ornamental eggplant)
Today I'm sharing some of my favorite easy annuals every NEW flower farmer can grow. They all have a few things in common. They're easy to start, have long blooming seasons, are great for cutting and require very little care in between. 

Let's start with the easy Zinnia!

Zinnias grow best when you direct sow them after the last danger of frost in your gardening zone. Most seed packets have planting instructions on the back or inside of the envelope so plant accordingly.  Zinnias will give you brilliant blooms from summer-frost and the bees and butterflies love them.

 3- 4 seed packets will be sufficient for one or two 4x12 raised beds. Try a few different varieties for fun!  

 Let's talk Sunflowers!

No flower garden would be complete with out sunflowers.  I love growing sunflowers. I just wish I had a field so I could grow bunches and bunches of them. Even still, they are worth growing in smaller amounts just because they are such a summer time favorite. Sunflowers aren't just yellow either.

They come in varying shades of deep red, chocolate ( almost black) and tawny golden oranges too! 

Three great varieties to try! 

Sunflowers can be started inside ahead of time in a greenhouse, or sunny windowsill but they grow just as well when planted directly at the proper sowing time.

This pretty lady isn't an annual, she's a perennial called Lemon Queen.
It's fun to let your perennial sunflowers, mingle with annual sunflowers. 
Below is a pitcher full of Black Eyed Susan's ( perennial), lemon queen ( also a perennial) and 
drop dead read, sunflowers ( annual ).

Sunflowers don't need much arranging for adding simple beauty to any occasion.

Let's talk Cosmos!

Cosmos are so easy to grow you barely need to think about them at all once you've planted them. 
 This one below is called, Rubenza for it's deep burgundy red color, although this photo makes it look almost hot pink.

Here they are in full bloom about mid-September. They make great cut flowers and will bloom well into fall until the first frost takes them out for good. I love using the baby green foliage for filler too so plant more than you need and you'll be able to enjoy multiple uses from this beauty.

Cosmos look amazing in loosely gathered arrangements.

I hope you'll give all three of these lovely ladies a try this year. No green thumb necessary. With a few prepetory steps in the beginning you'll have vases full of cut flowers right out your backdoor all summer long. 

When I fist started out I bought seeds from my local nurseries and big box stores. If you want more variety and better pricing for larger quantities there are some great sources online.

Johnny Selected Seeds
Baker Creek  
Floret Seeds NEW!

One of my dreams is to have my own seed line, Dandelion House Seeds...Put down some roots and BLOOM!

Keep me posted on your progress and feel free to contact me if you have more questions.  

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