Friday, November 30, 2012

December Photo Project

December Photo Project 2012  

I decided to join the fun of taking one photo per day for 25 days for the month of December. I will probably be taking 100 photos each day because I have a new camera. It is not fancy or anything but it does way more than my very old camera could do. Maybe you would like to join also, check it out and follow along as I learn how to use my camera. It is just one photo a day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quotable Sunday 11/25/2012

Nature Makes All The Rules

It is after Thanksgiving and all we have worried about was a killing frost and having no more flowers.  Well, still no frost but no flowers either.  We have learned that nature makes the rules.  We can cover, protect, shelter and hope that flowers will continue to bloom but when there is not a enough daylight; no buds will form and the season will come to a slow sad close.  Only a few blooms will try and survive and send a blossom or two but they are few and far between.

We learned that you can plant, protect and nurture your future flowers along but when nature decides it is going to rain..... a lot; you can build all the high and low tunnels you want and plant on raised beds and the water will still come.  

We learned that we might not want to have a flower farm at the base of a slope where all the water runs down and to the rivers, but percolates up in the rows of your hoop houses; but you play the cards you are dealt and dig more drain lines.

We learned that we need to stay out of goopy hoop houses or risk becoming 4 inches taller and maybe shoeless.  And we learned that dogs can't get enough of mud, creeks and ditches.

We also learned that despite all our planning, planting and protecting, nature is going to produce what it will produce.  We just keep learning, experimenting and trying to plan better and produce what we can and when we are able.

If you look closely at this wild weird arrangement of assorted flowers, you will see 2 mini callas that were supposed to be done 2 months ago and a dutch iris that is the only one to bloom out of a 1000 bulbs and it is not even the color we requested.  Nature decided that this is what we should have in our vases this time of year.

So we will continue to work with nature and learn the rules and possibly bend a couple of them here and there and continue this journey of flower growing.

"Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also the process and the result." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

We had a few more flowers left that we could deliver a Thanksgiving bouquet to a dear friend's big family gathering and still have a few flowers left for our table.  Thank you Mother Nature for the bounties of nature.  This is our first holiday meal that is gluten free and it will be wonderful as we enjoy our turkey with a ton of vegetables that we bought at our last Farmers' Market of the year.  So thank you and many blessings to all our friends both new and old, to our families spend across the country and to you who support us in our endeavors.  Hopefully next year we will have more flowers available so those who believe in supporting local business will have local flowers too.  Please shop local as much as possible and support local businesses and farms.

                                                             Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quotable Sunday 11/18/2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week is upon us and it is a time for gratitude and reflection.  We are most grateful to be able to do the work we love, to be out in nature and to work with beauty.  We are most thankful to our family and friends who support us in our endeavors and reward us with their kindness and generosity of spirit and encouragement. We use this time to reflect and contemplate our lives, our place in the universe and our direction to the future.  We strive to be in the moment and not rushing head long into the next season or holiday but to enjoy and bask in the fruits of our labors and of others who work the land.  We spend time remembering our past and all our family members who are no longer with us in body but remain so connected in spirit. We use this time to relax, re-energize, re-educate and heal from a long season of work.  We spend this time to begin to plan and prepare for our future tasks.

So take a moment to reflect and be grateful for all you have, all you are and for all that you will be.  We are so very grateful for you.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.  -Johannes A. Gaertner

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dahlia Roundup

We have done posts of digging dahlias, dividing dahlias and storing dahlias.  We have covered those topics pretty well but we decided to do a post on our favorite dahlias.  To become a favorite dahlia that will be planted every year we evaluate them based on certain attributes.  They include:  hardiness, good tuber producer, strong stems for self support ( no netting), good laterals for cutting, popularity and basic prettiness.  These were our favorites for this year

Maarn is a great dahlia, it produces tons of blooms, long sturdy stems and is one of the longest lasting dahlias in the vase.  It is a nice soft orange and has been used in quite a few weddings.

Midnight Moon is a lovely mostly white with lavender tips that has very sturdy stems for cutting. It produces tons of blooms and keeps on going if you keep them cut.  Whites and yellows are difficult for us to grow because they are the most attractive to the cucumber beetle who LOVES dahlias.  Moon keeps sending up blooms despite the attack of the beetle.  Best to grow ahead of the bugs.
Gitts Attention is a gorgeous white and if you can get it ahead of the bugs, it is a wonderful white bloom for bouquets.  Very strong plant and stems that needs no support.

Polventon Supreme is a great yellow dahlia that is wonderful for bouquets and weddings.  The bugs love it so plant it early or late.  Great stems for cutting.

Foxy Lady is a pretty little dahlia with great color.  It is almost always the first dahlia to bloom for us.  The stems get weak as the season goes but we keep it in our mix of dahlias because of the coloring, the small size for petite bouquets and it is popular being the first dahlia of the season.

Wildcat is a wildly popular dahlia.  It makes yellow bouquets pop with color and mixes well with a lot of our flowers.  It sends up a fair amount of blooms but can blow to a single a bit more often.  We are going to bring in some new fresh tubers to improve the mother stock of Wildcat.

Loverboy is a beautiful red dahlia. This photo isn't doing it justice but it gets cut faster than I remember to photograph it.  Nice big bloom and a bold statement in an arrangement.  It looks terrific with our big orange, yellow or deep red lilies in making a large bouquet.

Neon Splendor is another big bloom at 7 inches.  It is a bright orange color and looks splendid in Autumn designs.  It can throw single blooms also but the color is so great that it is worth the effort.
Kenora Lisa is a fairly new dahlia for us, we have only had her for two seasons.  The color and size of the blooms are just wonderful.  It is a coral,  peachy pink color with hints of yellow and is a 5-6 inch bloom.  It is the blossom that gets the most oooohs and aaaahs at the market.  Brides have wanted  it for their weddings.  We need to build more stock of this dahlia.

Jessie G. is a burgundy/purple ball dahlia that is about 3 1/2 inches. The color fools you, inside under artificial light it is purple, take it outside in the sun and it is a beautiful burgundy.  Learned that one the hard way this year.  Great stems and a sturdy plant.

Hamilton Lillian is a big peachy orange dahlia that is new for us also.  Large bloom and good stems.  

Patricia Ann's Sunset is a gorgeous red/orange waterlily.  Looks wonderful in Autumn arrangements and is a long lasting waterlily variety.

Miss Delilah is one of the first dahlias we had when we started cut flowers nine years ago.  She is a workhorse of a dahlia that keeps blooming and setting tubers.  When we lost all 3000 dahlias to a freeze in 2009, she was one of the first dahlia variety we replaced because of her consistency and good bloom production.

Gonzo Grape and Taboo are our two deep purple dahlias and most of the time I can't tell them apart very quickly.   Both produce great blooms with good lateral cuts.  The bucket is full of Grape/Taboo and Foxy Lady for wedding reception flowers. 

Cafe au Lait is a big dahlia bloom.  We like to call it a salad plate size bloom, not as big as a dinner plate dahlia.  This also is one of our original dahlias we had before we started our cut flower farm.  We got this dahlia from a mixed bag of dahlias from Costco.  It was not popular, hard to sell and folks saw it as a washed out pink or white dahlia, not for brides.  So it was removed from our collection after a few years.   Then suddenly it became very popular as a bridal flower and now tubers are hard to get but we have a few and will always be adding it to our collection.  

There are a few other dahlias that we used to have but were lost in the freeze, that I would like to find and bring back to our collection.  The sport of Ala Mode was my most favorite dahlia which was a peachy/pink orange dahlia with a shimmer of lavender.  Ivanetti was a deep purple ball that lasted forever in a vase. Black Satin is a deep black red ball that is just striking in a bouquet and two miniature size dahlias; Precious a little lavender dahlia and Raz-Ma-Taz a yellow and raspberry combo that was just fun to play with in bouquet.  Replacing 3000 dahlia tubers that were grown and collected over 10 years, is hard to replace in just a few years but we try new dahlias every year; some make the collection and some do not.  It is exciting when the new catalogs come out and we start picking all the new varieties we would like to try out.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Quotable Sunday  11/11/2012

Running around like crazy!

Did it happen, did it???  Every morning for a few weeks, that is the important question of the day... did it happen?  Say it aint so..... It aint so, yet.
Did we get a big frost?  We have been jumping up each morning, noses pressed to the window, looking for the tell tale signs of destruction.  Black drooping leaves, shimmering frosty grass, a clear blue early morning sky are scanned to see if it has happen. But so far it hasn't happened.  We had some localized field frost on a few plants but the killer frost hasn't happened until maybe tonight.(cue scary music). If you are a farmer or a plant lover, you know it will happen soon, any night now.... but you're not ready for it to be over... you just want a few more cuts.

For the past few days I have been running around like crazy cutting as many flowers as I can for our home.  I have been hoping for flowers for Thanksgiving but it just might not be, this year.

While skies darken again and I am just minutes away from a hail storm, I am cutting the last zinnias, the last amaranths, the last dahlias and other pretty flowers to make a couple more arrangements.

Now as I write this, it is early Saturday evening, the skies have cleared and there is a chill in the air. The end is near (dramatic pause). There isn't much time, things are rapidly changing, the leaves are falling, the flowers have stopped blooming and you can feel (gasp) IT is coming. Although we are tired, it is sad to see the season of flowers come to an end.  There are still so many chores and jobs to do but the pretty flowers might just be over. 

So I will post this for early tomorrow and you will know that the first thing we will do in the morning, is press our faces to the window...."Did it happen?"

"November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."

-  Elizabeth Coatsworth

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Quotable Sunday 11/04/2012

Daylight Shifting Time                     

This is the weekend we shift our clocks back to Standard time.  So check your clocks, you were supposed to get up at 2:00 am and move the dials back a hour.  Hope you did just that.  Are you like me and enjoyed another hour of sleep this morning?  But what does it really mean, this exercise in playing with all the clocks even in the car (don't forget that one).  It is not really about saving daylight because that is going down here in the northern hemisphere wether we move clocks or not.  It is about shifting time to morning or night.  The credit of this idea is to Benjamin Franklin. Slightly edited for brevity.

                             Benjamin Franklin  Excerpts and commentary on
                                    the essay in Journal de Paris, on April 26, 1784

 As he neared the end of his long tenure as American delegate in Paris, Benjamin Franklin felt his years. Gout and gallstones hampered his movements and left him virtually confined to his house in the Parisian suburb of Passy.
One such piece took the form of a letter to the Journal de Paris concerning the economy of lighting in the home, which Franklin wrote after attending the demonstration of a new oil lamp. In it, he parodied himself, his love of thrift, his scientific papers and his passion for playing chess until the wee hours of the morning then sleeping until midday. His friend Cadet de Vaux published the letter in the Journal on April 26, 1784, under the English title An Economical Project. Franklin began the letter by noting that much discussion had followed the demonstration of an oil lamp the previous evening concerning the amount of oil used in relation to the quantity of light produced. This he followed with details of how a great discovery of an avenue of thrift came to him.
The Parisians never woke before noon
Franklin had eventually bedded down at three or four hours past midnight but was awakened at six in the morning by a sudden noise. Surprised to find his room filled with light, Franklin at first imagined that a number of the new oil lamps were the source, but he soon perceived the light to be originating from the outside. Looking out the window, Franklin saw the sun rising above the horizon, its rays pouring through the open shutters.
"I looked at my watch, which goes very well, and found that it was but six o clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanac, where I found it to be the hour given for his rising on that day. I looked forward too, and found he was to rise still earlier every day towards the end of June; and that no time during the year he retarded his rising so long as till eight o clock. Your readers, who with me have never seen any sign of sunshine before noon, and seldom regard the astronomical part of the almanac, will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of his rising so early; and especially when I assure them, that he gives light as soon as he rises. I am convinced of this.
Sly Franklin claimed that a noted philosopher assured him that he was most certainly mistaken, for it was well known that "there could be no light abroad at that hour." His windows had not let the light in, but being open, had let the darkness out.
"This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections," the letter continued. Had he not been aroused at so early a morning hour, he would have slept until noon through six hours of daylight and therefore, living six hours the following night by candlelight. Realizing the latter was much more expensive than the former, he began calculating, for the sheer love of economy, the utility of his discovery -- the true test of any invention.
On the assumption that 100,000 Parisian families burned half a pound of candles per hour for an average of seven hours per day (the average time for the summer months between dusk and the supposed bedtime of Parisians), the account would stand thus:
"183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds. At a price of thirty sols per pounds of tallow and wax (two hundred sols make one livre tournois), the total sum comes to 96,075,000 livre tournois.
"An immense sum," the astonished Franklin concluded, "that the city of Paris might save every year."
 So you see it was not about saving daylight but shifting it to the morning or the evening.  But does it make a difference to our little farm?  Farmer Tony will still be a early bird and will awake in the morning to a bit more light and I will still be a night owl who will have more energy in the late afternoon but it will be dark.  All the flowers will know is that every day that passes there will be a little bit less light to grow.  So some flowers will keep blooming a little less each week until they stop and other seedlings will just sit and get comfortable in the soil spreading their roots out and kind of just nesting waiting for the daylight hours to begin to increase and signal them to grow.  It doesn't matter to the plants what the time is.... it is about the hours of daylight left when heading to the shortest day of the year.  So reset your clocks, watches , phones and TVs.  for the farm, it doesn't matter what time of day it is, it is the work that needs to get done.  

 "You may delay, 
but time will not"
-Benjamin Franklin-

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