March: Notes from the Cutting Garden

You can expect a little update from myself and the flowers once a month. I will briefly catch you up on what is happening on the farm each month (including flower & workshop availability), and a few notes and photos from the garden. Please make sure to subscribe to my email list if you don't want to miss my monthly updates, and hear when flowers & workshops are available.

What's Happening in March?

Actually, not much will happen on the farm this March. After working hard for the last 6 months over winter to set up the farm I am in need of a break. I want to be rested, inspired and full of energy to do my best work when the flowers are here and the real work begins. I feel strongly that in order to create a sustainable business, and to have the highest quality product this season, I need to prioritize rest now. Therefore, I have made the decision to take March slowly. Luckily, finishing the farm build in February means I can rest for a few weeks without delaying my flowers.

However, fear not because on my Youtube page lots will be happening in March! I am running a special month of Planting Together episodes, with a new one out every Friday. I will leave my Youtube linked below, please do subscribe if you would like to learn how to grow some flowers with me! Here are the flowers we will be growing if you need to pop a seed order in the post: Snapdragons, Malope, Scabious, and Calendula. My favourite place to buy seeds in the UK is Chiltern Seeds.

February: Notes from the Cutting Garden.

February has been a busy busy month; phase one of building the farm infrastructure is complete! The three main tasks for the month were: putting out the last of the landscape fabric and manure over the beds, setting up my composting infrastructure, and installing my flower workshop in a disused stable. A massive relief after 6 months of work across the worst of the weather. What motivated me was knowing the hard work in winter would allow me to focus my time and energy on growing and arranging the highest quality bouquets for my customers this spring, and I am glad it paid off!

The first job of the month was to finish off preparing my flower beds in a way that enables me to grow chemical fertilizer free, organically, and sustainably. By feeding the soil with composted stable manure, not digging the soil, and covering with reusable landscape fabric, I am nurturing a healthy soil microbiome. In turn, the soil will be fertile, full of diverse soil life to sequester carbon, and plants will be supported against disease (think of how pro biotics improve gut health - plant health is also improved by a healthy microbiome).

Onto the second job of the month; I built three compost bays in preparation to make as much of my own compost as possible this year. Composting is one of the gardening topics I am the most passionate about. It deals with waste by harnessing soil microbiology to create beautiful compost to improve soil. And, it is free! I don’t own a green bin at home, all my food and garden waste is turned into compost mulch for my flower beds. I will be using the same principles on my farm. Why use energy to collect, transport, and process green waste into compost that is then packaged, bought, and delivered? It will probably take me a few years to perfect my composting system but even reducing what I have to buy in is a positive step for the environment (and my budget!)

Lastly (and probably most excitingly!) I set up my flower workshop this month. This part of the farm infrastructure may seem unnecessary but an efficient flower farm would be difficult to achieve without a workshop to process flowers in. I need a space to store harvested flowers, to make and package bouquets, and to store my tools out of the weather.

I started the project by building two wooden counters (or bouquet work benches) that are on wheels. The idea is to have a large counter space to lay flowers out on for making bouquets quickly and efficiently. I also will have space to wrap and store the bouquets until the flowers reach the customer. The counters needed to be custom built to my height, I do not want to get a bad back by stooping over a bench that is too low for me. I also needed two separate tables on wheels so I can move them on my own without hurting myself. The end result was better than I imagined, and bonus enjoyment because 90% of the timber was sourced second hand from a wood recycling shop to improve the environmental impact of the benches.

The next part of the project was to install some simple garage shelving to store my equipment on. They are mostly empty now but in a few months they will be full of vases, brown paper, packaging, and other floristry supplies.

Lastly, the workshop just needed a tidy up. I am so pleased with how it looks, it is very functional but as the years go on I can make it prettier as I have time. For now, it is function over aesthetics for sure!

Apart from planting a few thornless raspberries for foliage, planting out sweet peas, and potting on some more seedlings, the flowers themselves didn’t require much work this month.

My last notes from the month are on Storm Eunice (80mph winds for those of you who aren’t local!), who caused a bit of chaos on the field. The wind picked up a third of the landscape fabric, including 3 wooden pallets, and threw them into my fence. The fence was damaged, but luckily nothing that couldn't be repaired. This meant I had to lay a lot of the fabric twice, but it is now all secure and covering the soil.

Luckily, the polytunnel survived the storm. A few sleepless nights and anxiously watching the wind definitely reminded me of why putting the environment first is critical. Climate change is real, scary, and damaging. The storms set me back time wise, but I am so grateful I got off lightly.

I hope you enjoyed catching up on the flower farm this month. I will see you back here in a few short week’s time for the April newsletter and seed starting!

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