Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quotable Sunday 06/30/2013

Summer is Here!

Yes, summer is finally here.  The calendar says we are in the summer season. The weather says it is summer with days in the mid- 90s, rather hot for Oregon. But the truly interesting thing is, our customers are telling us non-verbally that it is summer by the flowers that they are choosing. 

We love watching how people interact with our flowers through the months and even years we have been selling at our farmers' market. Even though we can have many varieties of flowers throughout our season, there still is a seasonality to what folks will choose.  Sure in the spring many flowers are in the soft colors of spring with a fair amount of purples. (One year, at one market, about 80% of flowers were purple shades, we declared it "National Purple Day") Anyway, choice is more on the pretty spring pastels.  Since Mother's Day we have been offering and selling out our sweet peas. We have been told over and over, that they remind folks of spring days in the garden with a favorite grandmother, aunt or mom.
Today, we had a limited number of sweet pea bunches which all sold but we noticed that the demand for them has changed. Those folks who really love them, wanted them one last week.  But most everyone else was interested in our bouquets.

We offer flowers by the stem so folks can make their own or just buy a few stems for vase by their bed; we offer bouquets that I make on the fly and custom bouquets requested by the customers. Here are some of the flowers I had to work with in making our bouquets.

                                                             Snapdragons and Sunflowers


                                                       Four different colors of Asiatic Lilies

Lots of colors and lots of different combinations. I usually make two different bouquets, a cool color and a warm or hot color bouquet.  The cool bouquet consists of the pinks, blues and soft color dahlias and lilies.
The hot bouquets are the super bright colors of reds, oranges, yellows and deep purples. 

Working fast and furiously I made bouquets while the folks picked and chose, and what bouquet did they choose on a 90 degree day.  The hot bouquet!!!  I could barely keep them stocked.  Over and over a incredible bright, bold and in your face hot bouquet was sold.  All the cool ones sold also eventually when there were no more flowers to make hot bouquets.  They wanted hot bouquets which happens every year. We keep track of flower trends throughout a season and every year it happens.  They seem to know it is summer and the flowers they love are the  bright and summery blooms. They will go along on this trend until one Saturday this fall,  the colors will change again. 

 Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 23, 2013

 Quotable Sunday 06/23/2013


Dahlia season is upon us again and our hearts are singing with love of this flower.  The colors, the style, the very splendor of  the flower bring us much joy.  We have been able to enjoy them for a couple of weeks because we are growing them in a hoop house.

The row to the right was left over winter and the next two rows were planted as we could. Normally we don't like to leave the tubers in the ground over winter because of the loss by freezing or vermin eating the tubers.  But as with every season, the million jobs there are and the length of time they kept blooming last fall, we ran out of time and hoped for the best. Luck was on our side.

                                   Beautiful big blooms have been coming on for a few weeks now.

                                                Oh the colors, vivid and bright!

Great stem length, strong stems holding up large bodacious blossoms. 

We even have great stem length and strong stems on the poms. So excited for wedding work!

Our Cafe au lait has yet to bloom but we have more plants in than we have had before.

                                   New dahlias and old favorites are in our mix this year. 

The flower symbolism associated with the dahlia is dignity, elegance, forever thine.  It is also thought to be a flower in good taste in Japan. We couldn't agree more, we Love our dahlias.

 When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. Georgia O'Keeffe

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Teaching an old dog some new tricks

Well this has been an interesting week. I have been spending the last several days reading some very educational books.  I think I may have mentioned in a past post or two about the poor condition of our soils and the large amount of repairs that need to be made over time.  However, I have been searching for information over the past year that would help me put what our soil problems are in perspective and help me make sense of our soil test data and come up with biological "Natural" solutions not an "industrial/chemical" solutions.

As we discussed previously we are fully engaged in using no-till practices to build and conserve our organic matter in our soil.  Putting that aside for a moment, we also have to work on our soil on a more micro level.  In the past our main farm field was used as animal pasture/hay or farmed chemically to produce annual ryegrass.  The tenants of this area typically fertilized their crop only with standard recommended industrial doses of NPK but never applied anything else.  If one thinks about things in a more common sense way no plant just grows on NPK alone but also needs, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, boron and many other elements to be in balance.  One way to look at things is that previous farming practices  removed biomass with traces of these elements each year and added nothing of these important other minerals back.  This form of "strip mining" over the years has left our soil seriously out of whack such that in some cases sensitive plants can be stunted and not grow to their full potential.

I do believe in Fukuoka-sans natural farming rule of no additional fertilizers to let nature repair and provide its own fertility, it can make sense.  But Fukuoka-sans farm's soils on Shikoku are volcanic in origin, and probably have deep reserves of plant available minerals  just by their very nature.  In addition his farm was never really industrially managed like in western practices and his crops and methods of farming removed so little net biomass from the land that I'm guessing that is why he had so little noticeable mineral degradation so fertilizer addition made no sense to his system.  What his system didn't address adequately was how does one deal with soils that have been industrially "mineral mined" and damaged by past practices.  You cannot simply re-mineralize your soil by simply adding back organic material only, especially if the organic material is grown on the same farm's depleted mineral base or comes from other soils similarly depleted.  I mean don't get me wrong organic material does help a lot but in order to get to the next step we have to seriously look at our deficiencies and come up with a plan to correct them by importing the right minerals to bring things back in balance.

This is what has led me to some great book recommendations by a  friend of ours the first is "The Biological Farmer" and the other is "Advancing Biological Farming" both by Gary Zimmer. I also would  recommend reading "The Intelligent Gardener:growing Nutrient dense Food" by Steve Solomon and Erica Reinheimer.  All three of these books are based on the idea that the key to success is making sure your soils are minerally balanced.  If anything in reading these books it opened my eyes to a micro world in soils that I hadn't thought of before.  I'm pretty much a novice here and probably just discovering what many may already know and  I recognize that each Farm is unique and requires its own set of solutions for successful management but I thought I'd pass these interesting (books) ideas on to our readers.

---Farmer Tony---

P.S.:  Happy Fathers Day all!  Remember "the older I get the smarter my Father"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Quotable Sunday 06/09/2013

Sweet Peas

Oh, to grow so fragrant of flower as the sweet pea.  Try as we could, many years the petite little blossoms eluded us.  Done in by unseasonable cold, or continual rain or extremely early heat.  But we persisted to be able to offer the heavenly perfume of a memorable flower that evokes dreams of the past. The reminder of a favorite gramma or mother who grew such wonderful little flowers in an array of colors.

This is what we wanted.....
This is what we did.....
Growing them down the center of our hoop house.
Staked and netted them and waited for them to bloom.....

Here they are today blooming like crazy!!
 Hundreds and hundreds of sweet smelling blossoms ready to be picked, sleeved and pack for our designers and markets.  The fragrance is heady and wonderful and at times dizzying.
From the front of the hoop house they rule the house.
This is the same view as the first one and you can see that a few mistakes were made. The plants performed gloriously but the netting was insufficient and the plants filled the walkways. 
A jungle of blooms enveloped the hoop house and limited the growth of other flowers growing along the side beds.  Lesson learned, a better netting setup, in fact all flowers in hoophouse might need netting. They grow so well with a little protection from the wild weather of late winter to early summer.
So we picked and picked and picked and packaged and packed them off to designers and our market friends.
And they flew out and went home with so many happy people. We were really caught off guard by how this old fashion flower connected with people. The stories and memories of loved ones were told by folks with such happy thoughts touched our hearts and showed the power of a simple flower that can lift  spirits and brighten days.

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.  ~Beverly Nichols
Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower, and draws all good things toward you. Allow your love to nourish yourself as well as others. Do not strain after the needs of life. It is sufficient to be quietly alert and aware of them. In this way life proceeds more naturally and effortlessly. Life is here to Enjoy!   Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh - See more at:
Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower, and draws all good things toward you. Allow your love to nourish yourself as well as others. Do not strain after the needs of life. It is sufficient to be quietly alert and aware of them. In this way life proceeds more naturally and effortlessly. Life is here to Enjoy!   Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh - See more at:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Quotable Sunday 06/02/2013


It is the first few days of June and the talk is about weddings, actually wedding flowers.  Do we do wedding flowers...Can we buy wedding flowers.... What flowers will you have in late July, August 3rd, September....on and on,  happy wedding flower talk.  It is fun to hear the plans,  this gal wants pinks and whites, while that gal wants all colors except for pink.  It is wild to chat with so many gals about their wedding plans while selling flowers at a market. It becomes a dizzy array of ideas, suggestions and tips of how their flowers can be designed for their special day. Sometimes it becomes  such a crazy confusion of ideas that  it makes it hard to remember what I am growing and when exactly it will be available.  When put on the spot, I draw a blank and remember the varieties and other great ideas later on in the day.  That why it is so nice to later meet up and make plans.  We even have a few gals who are planning to show up in on their wedding day and make some bouquets at the market.  Brave gals... but they give us a heads up and we will be prepared with their colors or style.  That will be a crazy day for sure. So today was filled with happy wedding flower talk. It is going to be a fun season of flower designs.  

Here is the first wedding we did on Mother's day weekend this year.

Much joy and happiness to Cierra and Nathan on their beautiful future together.  Thank you, I so enjoyed our happy wedding flower talk.  I look forward to the next wedding that is coming up soon!

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu
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