Updated: Jan 8, 2021
When my family and I moved onto our 24 acre ranch 5 years ago, I had a dream. With an 8 acre open field at the entrance of our farm, how awesome it would be to grow a huge sunflower field. Possibly even sell them. Why not? It would be breathtaking to see them as you drive onto the property. After a year or two had passed, I felt it was time to act on that vision. With a can do attitude and a desire to create something beautiful, we set into motion a plan. We rented a tractor, tilled up the field grasses and begun our adventure.
I plowed, tilled and tirelessly worked our field. I gave it my all. I spent hours planning where each row would be. It took me several days to complete my planting. I was so proud of myself! I planted about 4,000 seeds. By hand. No nifty machines. And then we waited. At first it looked promising. I began to see little seedlings pop up. Pretty perfect green rows of them. Then it all stopped. They started disappearing. The crazy wild grass started to take over. And eventually I only had one successful row. I mean, it was a TOTAL failure. How, how could I not make them grow? They were, after all, the easiest things to grow! Anybody could do it, right? Wrong. I planted approximately 4,000 seeds. And my yield? If you want to call it that was a mere 50 mid sized sunny's . . . at best. So where did I go wrong? What didn't I do that I should have. What did I do that worked against me? I spent many sleepless nights educating myself on my computer, combing the internet, just to try to figure this all out.
What I learned was a LOT! There were a few things that I could tweak to make improvements. If I wanted them to grow abundantly, I would have to put in place an irrigation system. We simply did not get enough water that year. In fact it was a drought summer.
As I had plenty of help from my enthusiastic husband that first year, most of the work in my sunflower and cut flower gardens today has been done largely by myself . Including the irrigation system. I knew NOTHING about irrigation. Through meeting a local farmer and once again, the great internet, I was able to slowly get into place a decent watering system.
Adding the water system and educating myself, has proved to help make it a more profitable second year! It was a success! We had so many sunflowers, I was giving them away!!
Year three, and we have added the cut flower garden and lavender field. With sunflowers, zinnias, celosia and cosmos galore, I am now selling bouquets locally. I look back at my pictures from that first year, and cannot help but be so proud of how far the flower farm has come!
We have 400 lavender plants we added last spring, a half acre of sunflowers and a quarter acre of a cut flower garden. We are planning to add 400 more lavender plants, so that means it's time to upgrade our irrigation system. Living in the South can be awesome and difficult at the same time. We defiantly get a lot of rain, but we can also go 3 weeks without a drop. For lavender, too much rain and humidity can be bad. Not enough and those first year plants can die. Sunflowers love the water so on the weeks where it's drought like, an irrigation system is a game changer.
During these bleak grey winter months, I thought I'd have time to rest. All the hard work of ripping out plant beds, prepping new beds has been done. I added over 700 tulip bulbs this fall! I love tulips, but have NEVER grown them. So as I make my way through the learning process, I am discovering that honestly, there is much to do behind the scenes! Before I know it, I'll be starting seedlings for early spring planting . . discovering cool flowers is a game changer. I can't help but push myself to learn something new every season. And in this field, I definitely have. Every day I learn something new and I am so grateful for all the wonderful online teachers I have discovered! Without their insights and advise, this learning process would be much more difficult.
Looking forward to the new year, I envision our little flower farm and lavender farm to be a place for people to come visit where they can relax and enjoy the wonderful flowers and calming views. Come take family pictures, pick some flowers or bring a few of your friends and stay and paint. With Covid-19 making it's way into its second year, we continue to practice social distancing. Small groups are welcome. We look forward to bringing beauty and smiles to everyone who visits our farm. We look forward to delivering beauty to our customers through our subscription delivery service. What a wonderful year this will be! Get out here and pick some flowers!