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The Race with Mother Nature

Someone recently asked me, “Is there anything you DON'T like about the flower farming gig?”

My response: “Yeah… October.” Truly, I felt guilty admitting that! Honestly, I do relish in steamy soups, pumpkin spice, frosty mornings, and crunchy leaves. Actually, it’s not really October that stresses me out-- it’s simply the fact that I know what’s coming AFTER October here in western Wisconsin, and I know how many tasks must get completed before the month is out. And as hours of daylight continue to dwindle, the race is truly on!


Fall of 2021 has been our busiest fall yet. Going into our fourth growing season, we are expanding once again, which adds more projects on top of our regular fall tasks. An ode to October, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at our fall to-do list:



DAHLIAS: Those beautiful flowers of August and September have reached their end with first frost. At some point before the ground freezes, tubers need to be dug up, divided, and stored, to be replanted next May. If left in the ground all winter, they will freeze, and die. The bright side of dahlias? If cared for properly, they multiply RAPIDLY.

Each tuber planted out in the spring produces a clump of several tubers for the next season. My record number of tubers from one clump this fall was thirteen, but most plants produced about 6-10.


ANNUAL BEDS: Most of the annual beds need to cleared out, landscape fabric removed, and soil amended. Some beds could wait for next spring-- that’s what the birds prefer!-- if we don’t need the space until May or later. But if hardier plants will be going in that spot in March or April, all prep needs to be done now. That includes laying out landscape fabric with appropriate spacing for next year.


PLANT FALL BULBS: Tulips, daffodils, etc! Our tulips are grown as annuals, which means new bulbs every year. The bright side: since the bulbs aren’t left to perennialize, they can be spaced super close together, which means we can fit a whole lot of bulbs in a very small space. We have almost 3,000 bulbs ordered which need to get in the ground before it freezes solid. As I write, 1800 tulips are planted, and the rest are . . . coming soon? My optimistic side says they'll arrive soon, but at this point, I'm grateful for the ones that I got!


PEONIES: This fall we are investing in 100 peonies to enjoy for years to come. I love the permanency of planting peonies. They say to really think through your planting location and varieties before you plant, because happy peonies can persist for decades. I love that these beauties could be blooming even after I’m gone. Half of them are scheduled to arrive early November. The other half are delayed and might have to wait until spring. That's ok. They'll be worth the wait.


CONSTRUCT THE HIGH TUNNEL: This project has tested my patience more than ever . . . Here's a picture of how far we are now. We're hoping to have the plastic on before it snows!


'Tis the season of long, chilly days, with nothing to show for it… quite yet. After a winter of waiting and patience, all of our hard work during October will be worth it. The flowers born from today’s labor will bring joy and warmth to our people--you-- our customers. You are so worth it!

Although the tasks are a bit overwhelming, at the end of the day, there’s nothing left to do but appreciate the progress made. There’s no controlling the weather or delayed shipments anyway, so better off to take things one day at a time, one small step at a time, and be grateful that a cozy house and pumpkin spice await me at dusk.


Happy Fall!


Traci

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