~ A 6th Generation Flower Farm ~

8664 360th Street – St. Joseph, MN

Podcast Episode 15

June on a Flower Farm

Today (the day this podcast was recorded/this was written) is Monday, June 5th, and I am going to talk about what we do on a flower farm in central Minnesota during the month of June. We do not have a ton of flowers blooming yet. We’re really in this kind of lull right now. Someday, we will have a ton of peonies blooming in June. I would say even the ones in my landscaping are probably a week or so from blooming, but they’re usually maybe even two weeks out from here (they usually bloom around June 20th). It’s just a lot of work right now, and everyone wants to come visit the farm right now. It’s the start of summer, and they want to come to see it, but it’s really ugly right now.

So, I just want to talk about what we do in the month of June. I’m gonna bring you back a bit to what was blooming so far this year. I have a high tunnel, so my first tulips were starting to bloom to the point that I could start picking them around April 20th or so. So, the 26th or so is when I started my tulip subscriptions. I had those every week for four weeks, and they ended around May 18th. Then I had Mother’s Day in there. Pretty much nothing got planted before May 1st here, which I’ll talk about a little bit later in this episode. That’s definitely not how it’s going to be going from here on out. But remember, we created a new you-pick section this year. So we literally had to create those lines and those garden beds. I wouldn’t say that it took longer than we thought, but we actually had really wet ground. Thankfully, we were really wet in April because now I don’t think it’s rained since, and now we’re in a severe drought already on June 5th. So, because we were creating the you-pick section and it was so wet, we didn’t really get anything planted. In the future, I will have some plants in mid-June, and I did last year, but I just don’t have them this year because I did not have my stuff together. Actually, I shouldn’t say that I didn’t get my stuff together. I feel like I have my stuff together pretty well. I just literally didn’t have time, and it wasn’t a priority to have flowers earlier in June. But eventually, it will be. If you go back and listen to my episode on cool-hardy annuals, what I’m talking about will make a little bit more sense.

So, tomorrow, June 6th, there will be four people here plus me, so five of us, and we are going to be pulling weeds. Tomorrow’s Tuesday – Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, we’re going to be pulling weeds from 6:30 am to 11:00 am, and a lot of those people are coming for around two-hour chunks. There’s someone that said, “I can come from 6:30 am to 8:30 am.” I said, “Oh, you don’t have to, it’s not that big of a deal.”  And she said, “No, I want to.” So, I messaged the nanny and said, “Can you come at 6:30 am?” and she said, “Sure, sure.” I like to wait until now to start weeding because the Zinnias, for example, are six inches tall. The snapdragons are six inches tall. The asters are six inches tall. The kosmos are probably only three inches tall, so we’ll wait until the end of the week to do those. We’ll start with those easy plants, it’s just a lot easier to pull the weeds when you can actually see the established plant a little bit better. We’ll go through it and we’ll do a big weeding this week. It gets so hot by 10:00 am or 11:00 am, so that’s why I want to be done by 11:00 and then call it good. But I want to give us enough time to have everything weeded.

Lindsay, who works here on the farm (she’s the one who painted the murals), weeded the peonies last week, and the lisianthus in the high tunnel, and they look fantastic. We’ll probably weed the lisianthus again at the end of the week. We ended up with 19 rows that are about five feet of flowers because of the edging of the fabric. So, it’s about five feet wide of flowers. Each row has probably 400 to 600 plants, depending if they’re 9-inch or 12-inch, or 7-inch spacing. We just have to pull the weeds around the holes so that it won’t be too bad. I like to wait until the plants are a little bit bigger, a little more established. We also had to seed five rows of grass that were part of the original garden. So we have those seeded in between the you-pick rows. Who knows if it’s going to survive because it’s going to be baby grass, and it’s going to get trampled on. It’s meant to be walked on between rows, so we seeded it, and we’re constantly watering that and trying not to walk on it. So yeah, I like to do this big round of weeding right now, and then we’ll let the plants establish a little bit more, and then probably two or three weeks from now, we’ll see how it’s going with watering everything so much. We’re in a drought, so who knows, but I think somewhere around June 20th or so, we’ll end up doing another round of having to weed everything. After that, in the summertime, you really don’t have to do too much because the canopy kind of takes over, and there isn’t enough light for little flowers to germinate. So, the zinnias on the edge will need to have the weeds pulled, but otherwise, if you spend 15 minutes on each row every couple of days, you can keep up with it pretty well.

The other thing that we’re doing constantly is watering. I have drip lines for every single row down there, but I’m really only turning them on every couple of days because we have the overhead sprinklers going because of all the grass that we seeded down there. We will be putting in a big irrigation system for our lawn shortly, but that’s not going to be on top of the flowers because I don’t want to water them overhead. They need to be watered below, so it’s constantly moving hoses. For the peonies, I don’t have drip lines for them. In a few days, on Saturday, June 10th, Brent is putting two new hydrants down by my garden. I’ll have one by where the start of where my drip lines are, and then he’s actually putting one on the far end of the peony field, which I’m so excited about. I don’t know if we’re gonna do actual drip lines for them or if we’ll just do like one of those tractor sprinklers, but we definitely need a sprinkler down there.

I’m so excited to have a hydrant because the pressure gets way too low when you’re running 300 feet of garden hose. Plus, it’s heavy when it’s full, and you gotta move it, and then you’re dragging it across plants. If I can have 75 feet of garden hose instead of 300 feet of garden hose, it’s gonna be life-changing. So, we’re at this point, we’re constantly moving hoses.

At the beginning of next week, or maybe the end of this week, depending on when everything gets weeded, Lindsay and I will go through, put in T posts, and put staking for the floral netting that I did. I have a whole episode coming up on staking plants, but basically for the snapdragons, the stock, the lisianthus, and the cosmos, you want to make sure that they grow straight and upward. The amaranth is fine because they have such a thick stock, and the sunflowers are fine because they have such a thick stock. So, we’ll go through and do that staking before the plants are about a foot tall. They’re probably six inches tall right now, so we’re going to do it sooner than later. Some people do their zinnias … I guess I never have, and I’ve gotten away with it.

Then we’re just going to be doing a lot of tidying up. For our shed/the butcher shop, where I keep the flowers and where my flower cooler is, we’re painting everything and ripping out some upper cabinets so that there’s room for jars. We actually have a contractor that’s working on some of that stuff for the month of June, and we’re very appreciative that he’s doing it. I wish it had been done a little bit sooner, which I’m not saying is his fault. We should have been on it earlier with what we wanted for a plan, so now we’re kind of in this lull. I really want them done before summer subscriptions start, but I would like them done even sooner because then I can organize the jars, the labels, and whatever. But it is what it is. If it doesn’t get done before subscriptions start, and we can’t really move back in there until then, that’s just the way it is.

I also am answering a ton of emails – people are placing orders for a baby shower, or this or that, or they’re just finding out that they can order DIY buckets, so that’s a lot of it. But then I also have people that are messaging me about private events. I have to tell them, “Sorry, our calendar’s pretty full. I sent out emails earlier, and I really don’t have much for openings.” I mean, I guess I maybe could, but I just don’t want something at my farm every single night. I do have the events calendar on the website. So, people can start signing up for you-picks – sunnymarymeadow.com/events. There are you-picks on there, there are different STEM bars, there’s a Tuesday tour, or they can come and tour the farm. So, I’m responding to emails about that. People ask, “Do I need a ticket for all of my kids?” And the answer is, “Yes, unfortunately, you do.” Because if you bring three kids, and someone else brings three kids, and five moms each bring three kids, then I’ve still only sold five bouquets, and I had 20 people in my flower fields. Plus, technically, I fall under agritourism, but I really don’t want to be viewed as a venue, and I don’t want people wanting to do private events here. Like, I had someone ask me if they could have a family reunion here. I said, “Nope.” And they were like, “Well, we’ll buy some flowers, and we’re really sentimental to the farm because we knew Great Grandpa Fiedler,” or they like to cut up meat here or something. And I’m like, “That’s great, and I really appreciate you wanting to come visit. But I don’t want to become a venue.” If everyone at the family reunion wants to buy a bouquet, then we’re cool with it, but otherwise, it’s a nope. They should just go to a park somewhere and rent a picnic shelter. I’m just not interested in going down that avenue. I mean, never say never, I guess. If there’s, like, companies that come out, but they’re all buying a bouquet, and it’s still all very flower-related, that’s kind of where I want to stay. Again, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about renting it or renting the space, or just being able to hang out down there, and I’m like, “Well, only if you each buy a bouquet, then you can.” I’m still just kind of figuring that out.

The next thing I want to talk about is what I plan on doing differently for June of next year … and that actually starts already this fall. So, if you read my cool-hardy annual post, you know that of the 19 rows I have, I have one row of bupleurum right now. And I would like to just have that always be the bupleurum row because it self-seeds so nicely. Where it was last year, I had like 30 Bupleurum plants. I ended up having to till them under because I just could not transplant them in time. So, I think I’ll just let them self-seed this year; that’ll just be that row. It’ll be kind of ugly in the you-picks, but whatever, it’s fine. So, that’ll be my bupleurum row. Now there’s Bells of Ireland, fall Queen Anne’s lace, and orlaya. And they all really self-seed super nice, too. So actually, I think I’m still going to buy the seeds. But then this fall, what I’ll do is, I’ll get those beds prepped. I’ll take out the old plants, roll up the fabric, roll up the drip lines, add my compost, mix it in, and then for those four rows, I’m going to try to lay out the fabric again this fall and then I’m going to plant seeds already in those holes this fall. Because if they grow from self-seeding, why wouldn’t they grow if I intentionally put the seeds there? And then my goal would be to have them ready earlier. The orlaya that I had that self-seeded last year is already blooming, and it’s June 5th. The bupleurum is a couple of days away from blooming, and it’s June 5th. Whereas the ones I planted from seeds on May 1st, because that’s the soonest I could get to it, they’re another month out from blooming. So, I think that’s what I’m gonna try to do this fall – plant those so that I have some of my own flowers in June. Remember, I’m not gonna have subscriptions in June, but there’s constantly buckets of flowers that people want, and stem bars, and that type of thing.

I’m also going to order the plugs of my stock and my snapdragons to arrive (hopefully) around April 20th so that I can transplant them out by April 22nd or 23rd. Same thing with my lisianthus that goes in the tunnel, just so I can have much earlier blooms for those, too, because I am selling buckets of flowers and bouquets on demand – you can go on my website right now and buy a bouquet at any time if you click on shop, and then click on all products, it’s there. So, people can just buy bouquets at any time. I really haven’t advertised that a ton yet just because of logistics, but people are finding it on their own, and I’m okay with it. I’m okay with June being slow.

Then the other thing that I’m doing here in the month of June is my ranunculus. Last week, so June 1st, 2nd, & 3rd, I let subscription holders pick up a bouquet, and I sold over 50 of them to current subscription holders. So, over 50 dozen ranunculus bundles … and they’re just straight bundles, nothing mixed in. Now all I’m doing this week is just picking the ranunculus, and I’ve got probably 300 in the cooler right now. I’m just going to keep adding more and more, and then I’ll advertise those ranunculus and let people sign up for a day to pick them up.

Then my peonies … I’m just constantly watering those now. Remember, mine are only in their first year, so I did not let them bloom. There are a few that I left buds on if they had three or four stems or shoots coming up because I just want to see what they look like, but I just left one bud that it didn’t cut off. Because again, you want the energy to go to the root system, not the flower, these first few years, because you want the roots to get really nice and strong and healthy. However, we are constantly watering the peonies. I made friends with a flower farmer from Long Prairie, MN. I bought 400 tulips from her about a month ago, and I’m gonna buy around 200 peonies from her next week. So, then I’m just going to email my subscription holders again and say, “Subscription perk … who wants a peony bouquet?” That won’t be incredibly profitable for me, but it’s still just kind of a nice perk for them to have. Again, if I’m buying the peonies from her and then reselling them, it has to be worth it for her and has to be kind of worth it for me.  But I just want to get them hooked on peonies because they’re coming! They’re coming!

So that’s June on the flower farm. And then, of course, trying to make time for the podcast. As I said, it’s June 5th, and we still have a lot of projects around here to get done. We have about 15 huge cable spools from my fiance’s godfather (he was, like, President of the electric co-op until he retired last year) that he dropped off, so we’re gonna sand them and stain them and all of that. We’ve got some picnic tables to build. We still are kind of working on tidying up the farm – for a good chunk of it, once it’s done this year, it’s done. There’s always going to be tidying things up in June and getting organized because, in the fall, we’re just exhausted. So then spring comes, and May is always a whirlwind with planting, Mother’s Day, and subscriptions. So then, we kind of look around and think, “What was that all about?” And now we’re just kind of cleaning up from it.

Abbey, what questions do you have about June on the Sunny Mary Meadow Flower Farm?

Abbey: Not necessarily a question … I was with my mom this weekend at the lake, and she by no means has a cut flower garden, but she did plant a few things that you have planted out here. And she’s like, “Oh, come look at my flowers.” And I’m like, “Okay, great,” thinking there’d be some sort of flower. And she’s pointing it out to me, showing it off like Vanna White. And I’m like, “What am I looking at?”

Liz: So, it’s June 5th today, and on June 7th, I do have a group coming out. This group offers home visits for first-time moms. It’s an organization that’s free. So, it’s really cool. I was so flattered that they asked me last winter. They said their annual meeting is going to be overnight at a hotel in St. Cloud because it’s a whole Minnesota-wide program. So it’s centrally located, and the gal in charge of it is named Nikki. I don’t know her super well, but she married a guy from my hometown, and she lives there now. And she’s always been super friendly, super nice. She asked me if they could come, and I said, “Well, it’s not going to be what you think it is, It’s going to be a bunch of six-inch plants. But it’s still a cool experience.” I’ve got a lot of really cool flowers, and they’re gonna learn to build a bouquet, and it’s gonna be fun. So, I made an exception for that group. But otherwise, for the most part, we don’t start having anything out here until after the 4th of July. Because people come in expecting flowers, and it’s like, “Nope.” But as we talked about, even in late July and August, if I’m doing my job right, I’m cutting all the flowers and selling them. So, it’s not a ton of flowers. I mean, I leave a lot of them to bloom for you-pics, and the goal is to always try to plant way more than you think.

That’s June in general. You know what? Toward the end of June, why don’t we do a five-minute update, and I can just see if anything changed or whatever …or we could do like a five-minute recap before the July recap? We’ll see.

Thanks for reading the Sunny Mary Meadow blog. I’m your host, Liz. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and rate us. You can also find us on InstagramPinterest, and Facebook.

You can subscribe to our email newsletter below. We love to hear any podcast-related feedback at our email podcast@sunnymarymeadow.com, and all other inquiries can be sent to liz@sunnymarymeadow.com.