Saturday, April 22, 2017

This Year's Garden







 Ever since I got married 4 1/2 years ago, I have dreamed of growing my own flowers to cut and put in vases around the house. At the beginning, I knew next to nothing about growing flowers. My knowledge basically extended to the garden section of Lowes and that's about it. While I knew there were outrageously gorgeous flowers out there, I didn't really explore other options besides what good ol' Lowes had to offer.
 Last year, I took a different approach and rather than buying flower packs, I made a valiant effort to start my own from seeds. Let's just say...it flopped. Or rather, the flowers flopped, quite literally in fact. Almost every window sill in my living room and kitchen were filled with seedlings that I started in Styrofoam cups. There were poppies, zinnias, dahlias, calendulas, just to name a few. And when it came time to plant them outside? Well, everything disintegrated. They did nothing. My disappointment was pretty real and so I did the only thing that I knew to do. I trucked off to Lowes and filled my shopping cart with the prettiest flowers that they had to offer. While beautiful in their own way, they didn't really fill that desire for long, lush stems of vibrant color to cut and enjoy indoors.
 This year, I decided to give it another go. I'm still holding my breath hoping that this is the year of the cut flower garden. However, I learned from my mistakes last year (more on that in a minute) and I also stumbled upon a wealth of knowledge over at Floret Flowers. If you aren't already following Erin on Instagram, I highly recommend you do so at once. It's all the flower eye candy you could ever want.
 A couple things I've learned so far this sowing season, is about bottom watering and hardening off the plants. One mistake I made last year, was that I watered my seedlings from the top. This year I'm using seed flats and watering trays to water from the bottom up, which prevents the seeds and baby leaves from washing out. I am also planning on hardening off my plants for about a week before planting them outside. I omitted this step last year even though I had at least a vague notion that it needed to be done. I've decided that it may be best to hit all the steps rather than cutting corners. Let's just say I'm a hard learner.
 I have started three different kinds of tomato plants, peppers, petunias, calendulas, poppies, hollyhocks, zinnias, asters, Canterbury bells, crepis, cosmos, and phlox. Aaand a handful of others. Most of them have already sprouted and look fairly healthy although some of them are kind of "leggy" and still only have their baby leaves.
 Gerry is loaning me a shop light to ensure that they have sufficient light to get their little start in life. I feel like this is another important step that I probably should have done last year, but hashtag slow learner. One thing I already want to try next year is an actual grow light system where I can raise and lower the lights above the plants. After some online research, I learned that keeping the lights 2-3 inches above the seedlings prevents them from having to reach up towards the light and as a result they won't get "leggy" and I think they would get their true leaves sooner. Just something else I'm learning as I go.
 I am so excited about this year's flower garden. I have high hopes and dreams for it but at the same time I know I have so much to learn about growing pretty cut flowers. Maybe you are just starting out too with your own cut flower garden and have no idea where to start. Here is a list of resources to help you out!

Resources:
Johnny's Selected Seeds-this is where I got all of my seed trays, flats, and humidity domes; they also have a huge selection of flower seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds-all of my seeds came from here
Renee's Garden-I haven't bought anything from here, but there is a large selection of flower seeds here as well
Floret Flowers-there is a wealth of information and inspiration here; be sure to check out her book: Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms that just released this year


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