Growing dahlias is a labor-intensive endeavor and they are susceptible to multiple threats, but they are one of the most popular flowers for good reason — they are show-stopper beautiful. Few flowers come in more colors, shapes and sizes than dahlias. We are in the peak of dahlia season and every day brings new blooms that stop even the most jaded flower farmers in their tracks.
We have learned that some plants put out roots in water and some don’t. If a plant cutting readily roots in water, the roots are said to be “adventitious.” If roots grow in dirt, they are either “tap” or “fibrous.” We feel tap-rooted in our new home and the Howard County community is our soil. And we can’t think of a better place to grow.
Without bees, butterflies and other pollinators, we wouldn’t have flowers or food or life on our planet. We think of sunlight, soil, water and carbon dioxide as essential to flora, but without pollinators to carry pollen from one flower to the next, those other things would be useless. We owe our lives to the bugs that help feed us.
Weeds are a part of life for flower farmers. We spend a good bit of our time in the garden pulling out plants that are crowding the plants we want. It’s like cutting cancer out of a healthy body. It has to be done. And so we do it. Often. Goodbye, buttercups, thistle, mile-a-minute and bind weed.
We saw a rainbow over our meadow this week. It seemed especially fitting given that we recently debuted our “Love is Love” fabric flower vase covers. We also realized that we’re lucky enough to work every day in the midst of a terrestrial rainbow of flowers that come in all seven hues of the light spectrum.
Last November, Frank and Sessy planted about 1,000 tulip bulbs in a bed on their farm in Clarksville. Then, right on cue, they pushed up through the earth about 3 weeks ago. This week, they are starting to bloom, and what a wonderful bounty of beauty they are providing. Tulips are a bit of a pain to plant and protect (from rabbits, squirrels and deer), but when they are the first thing to bloom in the spring, all that hard work is suddenly worth it!
At Blue Gables Farm, we think of March 1 as the day when we start putting seeds in trays, but actually a few varieties need to be started before then. Still, the effort really gets rolling at the beginning of March. This year, we will pot up and germinate more than 2,000 tiny plants that we hope will grow over time and produce thousands of blooms for our farmer’s market, CSA and custom cuts customers.
If you take a peek under the snow-covered fabric in our flower field you’ll find thriving little plants that are perfectly adapted to winter in Maryland. On the coldest of days, they sort of hibernate and wait for better days. On warmer days, they wake up and grow a little. It’s a privilege to watch such amazing, stubborn vitality despite the worst weather Maryland has to offer.
Farming is, by its nature, a seasonal life. Winter is a quiet time on a farm. It’s a time to rest and regroup. It’s also a time to dream and get ready for the crazy abundance of spring, summer and fall. There is beauty in every season, and part of what we love about farming is that we get to be outdoors to experience it. We get to see and feel the amazing variety that a full year brings. There is a beginning and end to every season, and there is no end to the cycle of them. As it should be.