December 28, 2019

Planning for Next Year's Flowers

 I feel like the whirlwind that was December may finally be subsiding, just a bit. I’ve caught up on a few projects that got left in the dust. My hope is that I will have a few moments to breathe in this coming week and I can actually sit down and start planning my flowers for next year.

This is something that is so fun! My dreams usually outpace my skills, unfortunately, so inevitably I face a certain amount of disappointment. I am working on getting my farming skills up to speed so that my optimism will pay off glorious dividends of beauty. 
One of the things I need to do is finish watching my online Flower Farming course. 
I’ve already picked up so many valuable lessons from it—I need to finish it off!

One thing Lisa Mason Ziegler shared in the course—something she really just mentioned in passing—was that for succession planting, she has what she calls her “summer recipe.” So in essence, she plants the same mix of flowers for her cool flower successions, and then has a different mix she does for the warm-weather lovers. I mean, she may plant different colors or substitute one in for another at times, but overall it’s the same. This has inspired me to start thinking about what should be my “recipe” for cool flower planting.

Another point she had—your zone and growing conditions determine how many successions of cool vs. warm flowers that you put in. So where she lives, it gets hot by May, so she really can only fit in 2-3 successions of cool flowers, then she does more like 4 or 5 rounds of the warm. We had a frost in mid-JUNE last year! I had already picked up on the fact the cool flowers should be my mainstays, but this just brought it home even more. I need to be putting in 3-5 rounds of cool flowers (also known as hardy annuals), and may only get 1 round of the hot weather flowers in my garden.

There’s a reason my celosia failed last year, and my zinnias didn’t do much better. They hate the cold! She usually waits even 3 weeks after the last frost date to plant them, just so the nights are warm enough for them as well as the days. If I’m going to do that, it’s going to be the end of June before I get any of those heat-lovers in. See what I mean? With frost coming in mid to late September, there’s not going to be time for multiple plantings of those!

Okay, so all of this is just to say, I want to figure out my own planting recipes, then get to work this spring to put them in! If I could make the space to do 1 row of filler and 1 row of bigger flowers for each round, that would be ideal. Then, maybe by the end of June, the first round of cool flowers would be done, and I could till that under to put in my warm-weather flowers.

Spring fillers that I love include: ammi (Queen Anne’s lace), feverfew, and pennycress. I also want to try buplureum, atriplex, and chocolate Queen Anne’s lace. For my cool flower focals: snapdragons, scabiosa, Black-eyed Susans, Bells of Ireland. I would love to figure out how to grow sweet peas, and get some Icelandic poppies going as well. Of course, I will have all my spring bulbs and landscaping shrubs, etc., to help fill in as well.

If I only get 1 or maybe 2 plantings of warm weather flowers, I want to make them count! Zinnias and sunflowers are definitely on my list, along with cosmos. I would love to figure out how to grow celosia successfully. Their forms are so unique, I think my customers would get a kick out of them.

I started over 70 varieties of seeds last year! This year I want to really narrow that down. Focus on getting really good at growing a handful of varieties that will perform well under my conditions, and then maybe I can branch out some more later on.

However, I haven’t even looked at the seed catalogs yet. That is where the true test of my resolve comes in!! I always want all the pretty things! This is why I need a plan first—preferably written down—so that I’m not sidetracked into unprofitable paths.

Are you getting your 2020 garden all planned out? Do tell!

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