The Crop Report: Week 16 | Tight Rows
- Apr 22, 2021
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One of my favorite times on the farm is just before we jump into harvesting a crop. This is when the plants are still aggressively growing and filling out. When the holes in our landscape fabric begin to fill with green leaves, and the long stretches of plants seem to double in size from one day to the next. I love seeing the flowers all lined up neat and tidy and every hole filled (a farmer can dream!) Regardless of what you think a flower farm looks like, it seems like there are only a few seconds where crops look picturesque, and I cherish these moments as much as I can.
The “last frost” deadline is rapidly approaching which means any of our lingering cool-season plantings MUST get in the ground. These have to go in a few weeks before the last frost so we can quickly switch to planting the warm season seedlings that have already popped up in trays. This mad rush to our spring deadline keeps our heads down in rows weeding and planting feverishly. Even though I’m going a million miles an hour, I try to remember to pause and enjoy the returning hum of the farm in its new year stride.
Most of the time, the crops fall on either side of this sweet spot. On one side we have small, puny, and insignificant seedlings that give an underwhelming impression. And on the other side, we have overworked, tired, and haggard (wait are we talking about me?) rows on the last stretch of production. On my crop walk this week, I noticed so many things right on the verge and in the flower farming sweet spot.
The peonies have doubled in size in a week or so which is crazy exciting! The buds are swelling, and while I still don’t know if they will be here for Mothers Day, the crop is coming on strong and will be a solid component of our bouquets and bulk collections later on in May. We have around 1500 peony plants, and with a little more than 2/3rds of the crop being in peak production this year, we will have more blooms than we ever have had before!
Then there are the bachelor buttons, which are doing better this year than ever before. We may have planted too little much due to poor production the past few years, but they are so worth it. We are going to have TONS and TONS of this perfect and classic farm-fresh filler-flower, but that’s ok - who can’t get down with that electric blue!
I just said yes to the cress. I couldn't help myself. I fell in LOVE with the texture of the wirey seed pods last year, and couldn’t get enough fresh or dried in 2020. So, like the buttons, I planted too darn much of it. Time to start restocking the drying barn!
Not to be outperformed, the dianthus is exploding in our fields and in our tunnels. While the Sweet William variety is beginning to turn in color and fill buckets in the cooler, our Chabaud dianthus (think a local version of a carnation) is growing beautifully in Tunnel 1. I am waiting to see more on how this crop performs so I can decide if it can earn its keep as a tunnel crop. Tunnel space is valuable, so only the top performers get invited back.
And let’s not forget about the delphinium, stock, snaps, scabiosa, and statice. All of these crops that are so close and look so darn good I just keep checking for those first few blooms. The moments before all of the spring crops erupt are full of farmer thrills. All that hard work lined up and bursting with life about to pay out the dividends.
While this stage is seen continuously on the farm, it's the first big spring flush that really feels exciting. These powerful young plantings aren't totally balanced with outgoing crops yet, so everything just feels fresh and new. As the year progresses the fields tend to balance out the yin and yang of old and new, but right after bleak winter seeing the flourishing of life is what I live for. I’m pretty sure this was the inspiration for one of my favorite memes. Spring on a flower farm.
- xoxo Jess