Did y’all notice that there was no Crop Report last week? I didn’t until I sat down to write this one and noticed my half-written draft. It got busy - REAL busy! Between shipments, Holiday Market, pop-up shops, and a workshop, it was sheer madness, and I dropped the ball on our weekly catch-up.
As far as field work, we spent last week making sure frost blankets didn’t budge in the night winds, tunnel crops were covered, and permanent plantings like the eucalyptus were winterized. We cut our crop back to about 12 inches and cleaned the understory really well. We covered the plants with two layers of frost blanket and then added a scrap piece of greenhouse plastic for good measure.
Another chore last week was setting up temporary propane heaters in the FedEx Tunnel. The heating system has been a series of problem-solving and without it operating, and temps in the 20s, I had to protect the crops we are working so hard to provide out of season. This meant late nights and early mornings monitoring temps and switching out propane tanks. I’ve questioned my love of flowers at 3 am in the dark, cold greenhouse a few times this week, but luckily I know the answer and keep getting up to take care of them.
I didn’t just drop the ball on the Crop Report though. I was also supposed to take all the notes, lists, and reports from our 2021 mum season and generate records - ugh, I hate paperwork. I asked my team to collect the data, but I never found time to do my half of the project. The holiday spirit was a little too distracting.
Our field crew joined the production side of the farm last week, crafting and creating holiday bounty. Emma is so good at making swags and working with Harleigh at the clamp tables, and laughs echo out of the barn whenever the duo is up there together. Elizabeth and Sonja have also poured their hearts into making beautiful things for your home. Elizabeth has a knack for front porch sap bucket design and Sonja made the most amazing planters that look like little worlds you want to get lost in. I have never been so impressed with the talent our team possesses, although I feel like I say that a lot. I am experiencing a new level of gratitude for the passion and skill of others that feed into this dream.
The first Holiday Market weekend was a total success, and as were our pop-ups and workshop! We met so many new folks, got our holiday cheer on, and helped tons of people decorate for the holidays. The barn looks incredible and the thought of only sharing it one more weekend felt too bittersweet to us, so we are keeping it open during weekday business hours for anyone who might want to come by and let the team show you our holiday delights!
So, now this week is here and the workload changes. Harleigh and Emma are still at the clamp tables, making wreaths and swags to ship and to fill in the spots from last week’s shopping mania. We will host pop-in guests, work on executing our second-to-last wedding, and circle back on farm chores.
We have been soaking our next round of ranunculus and began tearing out the lisianthus crop to disinfect and clean the rows before they are primed for planting. This is a big crop to put in, and our team will push to have it done by the end of the year. But they won’t be the only crop getting planted, as the poppies are scheduled to arrive soon. This is always one of our favorite crops and we can’t wait to see how they perform in a new tunnel location this year. The final tarp was added to the dahlia winterization field and breadseed poppy pods will be direct-seeded over the tuberose before they are completely tucked in. We will be planting stock, snapdragons, and didiscus in tunnel beds for spring and cutting back some of our woody crops like the willow, baptisia, and hydrangea.
But I saved the best news for last. I locked myself in my office to focus on two things: finish the mum reporting and make the greenhouse heat system work. I am so happy to say I accomplished both! I finally put the mum growing results into our records and made my assessments so that we can provide folks with the best plant stock in January. This is a big project and while there is still more work to do, the technical information (which is always the boring part for me) is done, and I’m pretty darn proud with what our numbers show! I also learned so much about heating units, electrical wiring, and what should and should not happen in greenhouse systems. It’s been a real struggle to have ideas, but lack knowledge of the nitty-gritty, and when a project involves multiple professionals who have never done what I’m proposing, it can get hairy quickly. Thank goodness we picked great folks to work with and even expanded our network of resources during the journey to heat. Long technical (not sure I would tell it correctly anyway) story short, we got the heater firing and working. I don’t think I have ever hugged a strange man so hard in my life. And yes, I sent him home with a lovely boxwood wreath. You know you have good people helping when they tell you to text them in the morning so they know it’s working or they won’t have a good day either. I love this community so much for helping and believing in us!
I feel caught up now and ready to tackle new projects. I'm doing it all with a Santa hat on and with the support of a lot of flower-farming elves!
- xoxo, Jess