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July is a natural break in our frost-free growing season. It sort of gives us time to catch our breath after a hectic June.
I think what I love most about this midsummer month is how much of an exercise of faith it proves to be…
No matter how many seasons that I grow flowers, I can’t help but feel a bit of anxious energy in July as I’m watching our summer garden take root and grow.
The growth always feels slow at first. And I find myself wondering if perhaps we made a mistake in the timing of our plantings- did we sow our seeds too late? Should we have put our transplants into the ground sooner? Will we even have flowers before that first autumn frost hits?!
I can’t help but freak out over how fast summer seems to be passing by and I have to really remind myself to trust the process, have faith in the plan. The truth is, the flowers always come and much to my surprise, it does seem like Mother Nature delivers them right on time.
So here’s a look back on how July progressed for us here at Two Sisters Flower Farm!
By now a good chunk of our summer cutting garden has been planted- but that doesn’t mean our work is complete. This time between when our transplants go in the ground and when they start blooming is filled with mundane (yet necessary) tending.
We do our best to stay on top of the weeding. Most of our garden is covered by a combination of landscape fabric and plastic mulch. Still weeds grow in the tiny spaces surrounding our transplants- at least, until the plants grow large enough to start shading the weeds out. To make sure our flowers have the space they need to really thrive we carefully weed around our transplants.
We also secure stakes and netting- garden supports for when our small flowers inevitably grow into large, mature plants. Annual flowers especially, since they’re quick growing, don’t have deep roots to keep them stable. By adding support for our plants, it helps ensure that our plants stay upright even when unforgiving weather- like strong winds or heavy rains- show up.
And lastly, we’re monitoring the moisture level in our garden, turning on the irrigation when necessary. Annuals, with their shallow roots, don’t have the same strong developed root systems that perennials do; and so, it’s especially important that we’re consistently watering our garden. We love when Mother Nature does it for us but when that’s not an option we’re thankful that drip irrigation allows us to keep our entire quarter acre field well-hydrated without much effort.
The Start of Our Bouquet Subscriptions
While it will be a little bit before our flowers are truly cranking out blooms, the first of our plants do start producing useable stems by the end of July. These first blooms are reserved for our Bouquet Subscription Customers.
Now in full disclosure, I used to be terrified of pre-selling our bouquets. I’d allow myself to imagine every worst case scenario- what happens if the flowers don’t bloom? What if we don’t have enough flowers?
With experience, I’ve become better at being able to predict when specific flowers will be in bloom and I know just how to ensure that I have a steady supply of fresh product to work with all season long. Not surprisingly, I’ve come to love the subscription model for moving flowers.
With our flower subscriptions, customers receive a fresh, hand-tied bouquet each week for the duration of their subscription. Many customers opt to have our fresh flowers in their home for a total of 12 weeks during the summer! I love that with just a few flower subscription customers I can truly move a lot of flowers at the retail level….
…Seriously, with just a handful of customers, I can sell hundreds of bouquets before the season even begins. And for anyone that has tried to sell a perishable product- that’s huge! No longer am I stressing to find customers that are ready to buy as soon as my flowers start blooming. I feel relaxed knowing that I have a customers already ready whenever the flowers decide to show-up.
What We’re Planting:
We’re still plugging away and planting new successions of sunflowers each week. Typically, I plant just one or two tried-and-true sunflower varieties, but this year, I couldn’t help but throw a few more varieties into the mix.
With any luck we’ll have all sorts of sunflowers available as the season progresses- everything from the unique Pro-Cut Plum to the more fully rounded Teddy Bear Sunflowers. I also planted Pro-Cut Peach, Pro-Cut Red, Pro-Cut Orange, Pro-Cut Bicolor, Pro-Cut Gold Lite (my favorite) and a few more specialty varieties.
Ornamental Kale and Cabbage
I love offering our customers options during the fall season. Not only is potted Kale/Cabbage easy to grow but it adds a bit of variety that can really dress up a fall display. We grow 6inch pots of ornamental kale and in order to allow enough time for this crop to grow to its final size we sow these seeds in early July.
With consistent water and a little protection from pests (it sees like every kind of bug enjoys munching on kale leaves), we’ll have pots ready to offer our community come fall.
What’s in Bloom:
The first bits of our summer cutting garden are starting to come into bloom. As I said above, it will be a while yet before we’re enjoying the true abundance of summer- but I’m truly enjoying seeing what pops of color are present in the garden each day.
The first blooms we enjoyed this month were beautiful zinnias, ruffled cosmos and lots of fun-colored snapdragons. Nothing says summer quite like these warm-season favorites.
Things I’m Loving:
Next month we’ll begin welcoming guests into our garden for U-Pick Flowers. I supply each guest a pair of snips to use as they snip flowers for their bouquet. We may have twenty or more guests at a time and so every year I find myself on the hunt for sharp yet inexpensive snips to use for these events.
While I would love to supply each guest with a pair of my favorite floral snips– I can’t justify spending that much money on thirty new pairs of snips. I randomly purchased these snips– they were within my price range and had great reviews, and I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked these snips once they arrived at my house.
If you’re on the lookout for a cheap yet effective pair of garden snips, then you might want to give these a try as well!
By this time next month we’ll be swimming in blooms and I can’t wait to enjoy that summer abundance. In the meantime, we’ll keep plugging away with work!
I’d love to know in the comments below what’s keeping you most busy this month?! Is there a garden task you loath or something you absolutely love to do? Let me know about it in the comments below!
P.S. If you’d like some guidance as you plan (and take action), don’t forget about the resources we have available. Both our Garden Planning Workbook and our Quarter Acre Cutting Garden Plan can help ensure you have the best season ever!
Wishing you a beautiful and abundant season ahead.