Cut and Carry Bouquets: Blog en-us (C) Cut and Carry Bouquets (Cut and Carry Bouquets) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:47:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:47:00 GMT Cut and Carry Bouquets: Blog 120 66 4th of July at the Eno River Farmers Market 4th of July at the Eno River Farmers Market It was a wonderful 4th of July in downtown Hillsborough.  There was a small parade, a gathering of folks in front of the old court house, families picnicking on the the square, and many wandering down to our market.  There were over 850 adults who visited our market after the parade.  Not much compared to Carrboro and Durham markets, but 850 adults is over double the number of customers that come to our small market.  Some of our regular venders did not come to the 4th of July market, and I was lucky enough to be moved to the front of the market where my flowers would greet customers as they entered the market.  Thanks to all customers who helped make this Saturday one of our best!!!

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Sun, 05 Jul 2015 17:10:51 GMT
Ray's Berry Heaven We've got lots of blueberries and blackberries ripening thanks to this week's warm, sunny weather.  The berries, this year, are especially yummy!  Our berries, like our flowers, are never sprayed with toxic chemicals and so, when you purchase them, feel free to munch away as you meander thru the Eno River Farmers market this Saturday.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Thu, 25 Jun 2015 19:31:55 GMT
Hot Enough to Fry an Egg on the Sidewalk? Image result for photo frying egg on sidewalk

Hey, it only hit 101 yesterday, not really hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk (need at least 150 F).  The past two weeks have been brutally hot, as those readers in NC already know.  What some folks might not realize is that the high temperature listed for the day is the temperature in the shade.  You can add another 10-15 degrees to calculate the temperature in the sun. 

As a flower farmer, I try to be outside by 5:45 am and by 9:30 am, it just too darn hot to stay out any longer.  And I start working outside again around 5:30, following the shade as it develops and stay outside until it’s really dark.

Any really young plants are very stressed by the heat as their roots are just under the soil surface that heats up the most.  So, another good use of our low hoops and row cover is to provide some shading for the new transplants, but they’re still struggling in this heat as are many of the mature plants. 

The good news….the berries are ripening really fast!




(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Wed, 24 Jun 2015 20:28:09 GMT
Two Happy Ballerinas Two Happy BallerinasMay 30th was recital day for one of the local dance studios in Hillsborough. Although most of our bouquets are contained in vases, it’s fun to create hand-held bouquets, especially for these two young ballerinas. The young lady on the left, when she was 3 years old, was already helping her mom select flowers for their home. May 30 was recital day for one of the local dance studios in Hillsborough.  Although most of our bouquets are contained in vases, it’s fun to create hand-held bouquets, especially for these two young ballerinas.  The young lady on the left, when she was 3 years old, was already helping her mom select flowers for their home.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Bouquets Recital Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:20:51 GMT
Art Gallery Opening Reception We create custom bouquets for special occasions. This arrangement was created for an opening reception at the Hillsborough Gallery of Art on May 29.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:20:08 GMT
Blogging is Back

I now understand why some farmers are actively blogging during the winter but stop come spring.  There hasn’t been much time to sit down and blog about flower farming the past 2 months as we have been crazy busy.  Spring is a time of getting the transplants into the field, direct seeding others, maintaining the fight against weeds and critters, starting the summer annuals and transplants and going to market which occupies most of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (just recovering).


So instead of trying to back track and go into detail about the past 2 months, I’ve decided to start blogging about what’s happening now, the end of May.  This is a photo of one of our zinnia rows and Ray tying up the tomatoes. Both zinnia and tomatoes are plants that prefer warm soil to grow and as a result transplants were planted around April 15th and covered with row covers to protect from any late frosts. 


So here we are 6 weeks after the transplants were planted into black plastic.  It’s incredible how much growth has taken place in that period of time.  Two different types of supports are used to prevent the plants from being blown over.  Ray ties the tomatoes to a 7 foot tall fence by weaving cord between the plants and the fence. 


The zinnia are supported by a double row of horizontal trellis.  The zinnia have already grown through the first layer of trellis and by the time they are growing thru the 2nd row, I’ll be cutting lots of long stems.  Notice the shiny reflective tape above the zinnia.  This is “bird scare” tape and hopefully it will discourage the flocks of yellow finches from landing on the flowers and pulling them apart.  If it were just one or two finches, it wouldn’t be that much of a problem.  But we seem to get flocks of over 30 birds settling in the trees around the field waiting to swoop down onto the flowers. 'Course if the sun's not out, then the bird scare tape isn't very effective as I discovered this morning.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Tue, 02 Jun 2015 00:15:36 GMT
Ranunculus Ranunculus are some of my favorite flowers and they normally start blooming at the end of March.  But they are going to be late this year for several reasons.  Of course, the cold 2015 winter has delayed lots of flowers including the ranunculus.  But they are also temperamental (translate, difficult to grow).  They stop blooming if it gets too hot and they stop growing if it gets too cold.  And if they get too cold and too wet (our winter this year), the bulbs rot!


This year, only about one third of my ranunculus survived.  Most of the bulbs rotted in the cold, wet soil.  I ordered lots of ranunculus bulbs this year encouraged by the success of last year's crop.  But what grows well one year doesn't ensure success the following year.  This raised bed is normally full of ranunculus plants but all of the empty spaces represent places where the bulbs did not grow, but rotted.

Take another look at the picture of the raised bed where the ranunculus are growing.  Notice the chicken wire around the edge of the bed.  What you can't see is that there is chicken wire under the bed. Why chicken wire?  I'm not trying to keep birds out of the bed.  Nope, I'm trying to deter voles.

Voles look like large mice, but act like mice on steroids.  They are fierce plant eaters and they love both ranunculus bulbs and plants. Mice nibble, voles attack and decimate.  Cut leaves are strewn around; the the plants are chomped down to the ground.  Look closely and you can see the missing stems on the plant in the photo. One large original leaf was left on the plant.  The plant did start regrowing new leaves, but as of this date, they have been devoured also.  Seeing ranunculus in bloom is a gorgeous site.  Seeing ranunculus demolished is not! 

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:45:23 GMT
Hardening-Off Transplants

Large seedlings started under workshop lights have been living in a protected environment and are not ready to be directly planted in the field. They need a gradual exposure to real world growing conditions to toughen up or be "hardened off".  Over 7-10 days, transplants are gradually exposed to sunlight, cooler temperatures, wind and less frequent watering before being planted.   Here's Jenny guarding the "babies" or is she wondering if there are any worth munching on?


(Cut and Carry Bouquets) hardened off transplants Sun, 22 Mar 2015 12:00:00 GMT
8 Inches of Snow in Hillsborough The snow predictions for Hillsborough were right on….6-8 inches of heavy snow.  And that’s what we woke up to on Feb. 26th.  I had to fight my impulse to throw on my boots and coat and go out to see if any of the low tunnels had collapsed under the weight of the snow.  But our power continued to flicker on and off for about 30 minutes and then it remained on, thankfully.  At that point, we ventured outside and checked the low tunnels, shrubs and deer fencing for damage, but all looked fine.  The snow on top of the tunnels should act as another blanket to help prevent any heat (really?) from escaping.  Every little degree of warmth helps those plants survive.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:05:50 GMT
Winter Hardy Flowers So, what flowers are growing (or maybe freezing) under our field row covers in February. Our spring bouquets contain winter hardy annual flowers that were planted in the fall, grow under the row covers all winter long and are harvested in April & May. These bouquets usually contain a combination of flowers including bachelor buttons, agrostemma, snapdragons, ammi, poppies, ranunculus, anemone, and dianthus to name a few.  Come visit us at the Eno River Farmers' Market this spring to see what flowers survived the winter of 2015.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) winter hardy flowers Thu, 19 Feb 2015 01:28:00 GMT
Soil Blocks for Tiny Seeds Most home gardeners are familiar with large flowers seeds like zinnia and cosmos.  However, a majority of flower seeds are tiny, some so tiny it is difficult to see or hold the individual seeds.  For starting tiny seeds, I like to use soil block makers that form sets of potting soil blocks that act as both the container and soil for growing seedlings.  My soil blocker makes twenty ¾ inch blocks that I place on a small plastic tray under the shop lights in our basement. I normally plant the soil blocks seedlings directly in the field, but our extra cold February weather has delayed planting and as a result, the seedlings were bumped up into larger cells and kept under the shop lights.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) soil blocks Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:00:00 GMT
Starting Seeds Most of our flowers are started from seed, some purchased, some saved from flowers at the end of their growing season.   We either direct sow our seeds into the field or we start the seeds indoors under shop lights.   We get a jump start on the summer growing season by starting our flower seeds indoors in February and March and transplanting the seedlings to the field after the last frost date, usually around April 15th here in NC.


(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Sat, 14 Feb 2015 01:25:48 GMT
Flower Field with Row Covers Farmers are always talking about the weather and this February is no exception. What started out as a mild but cloudy winter has turned into a bitterly cold winter in February.  Since we don’t have a high tunnel or a greenhouse for growing winter crops, we use low tunnels or hoops covered with row covers to protect the plants. February night temperatures have been dropping into the single digits.  What most folks don’t realize however is that the extra cold nights are often accompanied by high wind gusts of over 30 mph and the challenge is to keep the row covers from blowing off.  If the plants are at a vulnerable stage and the row covers are lifted by the wind, the plants can sustain heavy damage.   We've used sandbags, bricks, cement blocks, metal stakes, clips, rocks, soil....whatever to anchor the row covers.

Field with Row Covers

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Fri, 13 Feb 2015 01:00:00 GMT
Meet Jenny Jenny our Sheltie is a valuable member of our farm team.  She chases marauders like deer, rabbits, ground hogs, and squirrels with great enthusiasm.  We discovered she was an avid vegetarian when we found her chomping on fallen fruit and pulling out some of our spring veggies.  To discourage her, Ray installed low fencing around our field and fruit orchard.  However, Jenny happily continues to “harvest” fruit and veggies growing beyond the fence boundaries.

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Tue, 10 Feb 2015 02:13:00 GMT
Hand Weeding

On warm winter days, the plants and the weeds continue to grow under the protective row covers.  Ray hand weeds the rows to make sure the weeds aren't winning the growth contest!

(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Mon, 09 Feb 2015 02:47:20 GMT
Low Tunnels

So, let's jump in time from past years to the present, 2015.  Most of the flowers that we cut in the spring are actually planted in the fall and protected from harsh winter weather by low hoops.  We use pvc pipe to form the hoops and they are then covered with light weight row cover. On warm sunny winter days, we remove the row covers so that we can easily see the progress the plants (and weeds) are making.


(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Mon, 09 Feb 2015 02:41:54 GMT
Ray Creating our Flower Field To apply our newly acquired Breeze Farm skills, we needed a field for growing plants.  Renting land was out of the question.  The logical but painful answer was to take down about an acre of trees in our backyard.  That permitted lots of sunshine to reach the land and provided firewood for several years.  Over the next year, Ray tilled leaf mulch, wood chips and compost into our red clay creating heavenly, rich soil for planting.  Some wives ask for fancy baubles; all I want is great soil!



(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Mon, 09 Feb 2015 01:30:00 GMT
Breeze Farm Crops

At Breeze Farm, we learned about growing crops organically, how to nurture the soil and minimize disease and pests using environmentally friendly techniques.  The soil at Breeze was wonderfully rich and all our crops grew amazingly large, which at times, created a challenge in harvesting.


(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Sun, 08 Feb 2015 01:32:00 GMT
Breeze Farm Incubator

As a result of my internship at Breeze Farm, I was transformed from a backyard gardener into a flower farmer.  After completing 2 months of workshops led by local farmers, writing a business plan for growing crops at Breeze, Ray and I rented a ¼ acre of land on which we grew flowers and vegetables.  Growing crops in a field is significantly different from growing in a small, decorative garden.  Rows were plowed, drip lines laid down, and plastic mulch covered the rows.  To learn more about Breeze Farm, read an article that appeared in the Independent Weekly Magazine,


(Cut and Carry Bouquets) Breeze Farm Wed, 04 Feb 2015 01:05:00 GMT