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If you were to ask me at any point in the year just how long our growing season is, I’d most likely tell you that it’s extremely short.
And it’s true- here in West Michigan (especially when compared to our neighbors to the south), we have a relatively short window of frost-free growing conditions.
By the time our warm-loving tender annuals, that we plant out in mid May, start to bloom, it’s already late July. Just two and a half months later, come October, we’re putting everything back to rest for the year. In the grand scheme of things, summer is always short and quick!
Perhaps that’s why I’m always so tired this time of year- maybe we just squeeze that much into the summer months…
Whatever the reason, by October I often find myself losing a bit of steam. And truthfully, I find it hard to keep myself committed to the goals that I set earlier in the year. But I’ve been here before, and I know how much happier I’ll be with myself if I just push through for a little while longer.
And so that’s what a lot of October is- deciding to finish the year strong!
Keep reading below as I’ll share a more in-detailed look at how our October goes.
What goes up must eventually come down. Our flower field is almost entirely made up of annuals (the exception being our small patch of daffodils that come back every year).
Since the flowers we plant bloom for just one season, our goal at the end of the year is to return our planting space back to the blank slate it started as so that next year we can start the flower growing process all over again!
This means that all the metal plant supports, the landscape fabric the line our pathways and the plastic mulch that covers our actual planting beds- it all gets removed. The process often looks daunting just due to the scale at which we’re growing, but once I get started, the entire takedown process doesn’t last that long.
Digging Dahlia Tubers:
I often wish that we lived in a warm enough climate where I could overwinter my dahlias (truthfully speaking, digging tubers is one of my least favorite tasks), but here in Zone 5b where I live, dahlias don’t often stand a chance if left in the ground all winter long. And so, I do spent a couple of days lifting our dahlia tubers from the ground.
I won’t have time to divide our dahlia clumps into individual tubers until we reach the winter season; for now, I simply dig each clump, and put them into storage.
Fall Farm Stand Restock:
Keeping our fall farm stand fully stocked is a full-time job in and of itself. Nearly everyday, I find myself needing to pick more pumpkins or replenish our potted mums so that I can stay ahead of demand.
This year’s pumpkin patch might be one for the record books- in all our years of growing, I’ve never quite experienced a planting that produced as abundantly as this one has. Amidst all the work. I’m doing my best to just appreciate the present moment for what it is.
Fall Bulb Sale:
Ever since we started growing spring-flowering bulbs in larger quantities + sharing the resulting blooms across our social media platforms, we’ve noticed a genuine excitement around tulips and daffodils!
This year, I wanted to not just share the blooms we were growing but I wanted to give our community the opportunity to grow these same specialty varieties themselves so that they could enjoy these beautiful flowers in-person.
This month, we listed the same varieties of tulips and daffodils that we’re growing this year (but in much smaller, more manageable quantities) and opened our fall bulb sale! As I packaged each bulb order I couldn’t help but feel more connected with the audience that supports us here online. I mean, how cool is it that we (meaning YOU and me) get to grow the exact same varieties of flowers in our gardens this season?!
If you missed our fall bulb sale this year, don’t worry- we plan to make this a yearly event! Check back in September as that’s typically when our bulbs go on sale.
What’s in Bloom:
The summer cutting garden is officially toast! We’ve enjoyed a beautifully mild fall season so far this year and much to my surprise, the garden lasted longer than most years- but the snow storm we experienced on Halloween really took out any green bits + pieces that were still hanging on.
The only splashes of color right now are found in the pumpkin patch. I especially love the pumpkin patch in October. You see, when we begin picking in September, the warm temps keep the vines alive; and the pumpkins are often hiding beneath the large leaves of the plants. As the fall season progresses and the vines eventually die back, I love how it reveals the pumpkins that were nearly impossible to see just a few weeks ago.
What We’re Planting:
This month, our spring flowering bulbs finally arrived. Normally, I’d jump right into planting mode, tucking these guys into soil as quickly as possible, but this year, my first priority is ensuring we fill all of our bulb sale orders.
With the freakishly early snowfall this year, I know everyone will be antsy to get their bulbs so they can start to plant. Having a few years of experience under my belt, I don’t feel that same pressure to have everything planted super early. I know that there will still be plenty of time left for planting this season.
So for now, I’ll keep our bulbs safe by properly storing them at a cool temp with relatively high humidity and good ventilation; and I’ll plan on planting them in a few weeks when more of our work has let up.
Things I’m Loving:
I may be the only one that finds this one interesting- but as we’re in the midst of bulb sale, we’re packing lots of orders to be shipped.
Nothing makes me happier right now then sending these boxes out into the world with some customized packing tape. I’m all about the small details, and I truly hope that seeing these packages specially wrapped will make our customers excited for what’s inside!
You can easily create your own customized packing tape by clicking here.
Next month, we’ll be well into our winter holiday season- during which time we offer in-person workshops for wreath-making and porch pots. I always like to have some light refreshments available for our guests. This month I’ve been trying a few mocktail recipes and I’ve finally settled on this Christmas Mocktail Punch.
In case you’re feeling tired this month by the long, grueling gardening season- know that you’re not alone, my friend!
That end of season burnout kind of feeling is normal. I can’t encourage you enough to keep pushing because on the other side is rest + that great feeling of accomplishment after a job well done!