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Flower Farming Basics

by | Oct 1, 2022

Learning never ends. 

 As I write this post, we just experienced early low temperatures of 34-36 degrees at the end of September. This weather toasted our last flowers and brought our 2022 season to an abrupt end. Three years of weather notes show that this is a complete anomaly. We normally have 50-degree lows right now but not this season. Two straight nights of mid-30 temperature lows ended any hopes of us selling flowers up to mid-October like we have been able to do for three straight years.  I’ve had to make calls to customers to tell them we are done selling flowers for 2022. 

This has hit me hard. Frankly, it hurts. I finally at one point just had to put my head down on my office desk and let myself cry. I’ve just finished my third year of flower farming.  All our crops are field grown – we have no hoop houses or greenhouses.  Our last crop of the season is always dahlias, which I learned how to grow from Dave Dowling’s course: Bulbs, Perennials, Woodies, and More!  I had been counting on selling our dahlias into mid-October to meet my 2022 revenue goal. 

Flower farming or being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart but you do need a heart to make it in this business and be successful. As I stared at my field of dead flowers this morning I was reminded once again of the things Lisa teaches in her course: Flower Farming School Online: The Basics, Annual Crops, Marketing, and More that have enabled me to build a business growing and selling cut flowers. 

After letting myself have that good cry, I went back to my Basics course, started watching classes again, and began to make a plan.  As I moved through Lisa’s teaching in each session, my spirits lifted from one of failure to resilience and determination to move forward. I realized I’ve got this!

Successful sales numbers are not possible without many other factors and necessary skills that have nothing to do with just growing cut flowers. Lisa has made this message the core of her Basics course.  Remembering this as I looked at dead flowers this week, I was reminded that Mother Nature is always in charge. But in many ways, I am also in charge.  

After going through some of the Basics sessions, I went back and took thorough notes on this season’s successes and failures. I took stock of which dahlias we’ll be keeping and which ones we will be ripping out that aren’t producing income or in demand enough to warrant growing space. I decided that I will spend the off-season working to master seed starting and soil blocking because this skill (also taught in depth in Basics) is the backbone of production, profitability, and contingency plans for when crops fail. I made a list of the core crops Lisa teaches to grow in Basics and started planning for how we’ll grow them in 2023. I remembered the harvesting and conditioning techniques that Lisa teaches in Basics. These classes enabled me to land regular accounts with florists and designers who told me they had never had a grower show up with such beautiful flowers, conditioned and ready to go for their business and in such a professional manner. 

The magic of Basics is exactly what Lisa says it is: this course meets you where you are now with what is available to you. As I looked out at the dead flowers today, I remembered that Lisa says, “Successful people are good quitters.” I quit a lot today: I quit crying, I quit hoping we could sell into mid-October as we’d done in the past, and I quit looking back on 2022. I moved forward to planning how we’re going to grow and sell cut flowers at a profit in 2023. 

About The Author: Anne Gettys Morgan is our Customer Service Coordinator at The Gardener’s Workshop, as well as the head grower at Franklin Flower Farm in Macon County, NC. Anne can be reached at [email protected]