Merry Christmas from Sourwood Creek Farm! I can't believe it is the last Monday of the year. It has been a whirlwind of a year, an incredible year of learning and growth, stretching and challenges. I am thankful for every part of it and thankful to look back and reflect on what succeeded and what needs to change moving forward. At the beginning of this year, I had a lot of hopes. One of the things I hoped to do this year was learn a lot and challenge myself to have a record of that learning and growing. Hence, this blog became an important part of my journey; and I'm glad that you have joined me as I shared about the farm, what I'm growing, and how I go about farming.
The single most important thing I did for my business was to hire a friend to come to the farm each month to document what was growing, that month's bouquets, and the changes that took place from month to month. In this process, she was able to capture the heart of the farm and set the tone for my social media accounts and website. 100% recommend good photography.
Social media calendar
At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to document the year in blog posts, as much as possible. I wanted to create a resource for you and flesh out my farming processes for myself. So I set the goal of a post a week, publishing every Monday. This seemed daunting at the beginning of the year; but a calendar helped me map out my ideas and held me accountable to regular posts with defined content. I also decided to post to Instagram three times a week with different content on each of the three days. Once the year progressed, I began to put out reels to emphasize content or to share what was happening on the farm. Apparently, chickens are quite popular on Instagram.
I also used a calendar to help me figure out when to start seeds and plant out seedlings. Seed packets come with information on the back that tells you how long seeds take to grow to maturity. You can use that information to figure out when to start seeds if you know when you want flowers, taking into account first and last frosts. The planting calendar was not without its faults, but it did help me get most of my seedlings started and into the ground.
I bought lisianthus plugs for the first time and did not regret it for one single second. They did really well and were a hit in bouquets.
Dried wreath workshops
A surprise hit, these workshops were a great opportunity to get dried flowers into more people's hands. It was fun to interact with you all and see you make your own beautiful creations. Dried flowers are making a comeback, and it's fun to see you all jumping on board.
All the flowers
It is amazing that, with work, beautiful flowers grow out of the ground. The flowers were a success this year. It has been good to reflect on what I will continue to grow next year and what will not be coming back. I have my tried and true favorites. I am excited to narrow the list down for next year and dial in my methods to simplify growing.
Quantity of spring bulbs
This spring, I did not have enough spring flowers in early April. I was struggling to put together full bouquets. As a result, I have moved my Spring subscription back two weeks and planted thousands of tulip, narcissus, anemone, and ranunculus bulbs and corms. There will be an explosion of color come spring.
Choose sale locations carefully
I had a pop up shop and sold arrangements in a location that was more of a pass through for travelers than a purchase spot for locals. This meant that, while they admired the beautiful flowers, they did not purchase them because they were on the move, not heading home. Later in the year, I made connections that allowed me to sell at the local farmer's market and a pop up shop in town where people had come to shop.
Figure out post harvest handling techniques
When I sold jars of arrangements over the summer, I did not realize until later that the store I left the arrangements in did not run their A/C overnight. This meant that many of the beautiful flowers were not holding up for more than 2 days, if left overnight. I decided to take this as a challenge and to tweak my harvest and post harvest handling to see if I could get 5 days out of the flowers. I was able to figure out a process that worked. I also made careful decisions about what flowers to put into the arrangements, knowing that certain flowers would last longer than others. Five days may not seem like a lot, but flowers should be kept in air conditioned spaces in order to get the longest vase life.
I think weeds will always be a problem. Arrgh. Just when I think I have a handle on the weeds, they get out of control again. I am thankful that they, mostly, die back in the fall; but I will definitely need to be more proactive this spring and summer with weed prevention. I am thinking about a mulching schedule to implement on the farm to suppress weeds. Any suggestions on weed prevention?
Frost killed some of the hardy annuals that I had planned on using in the spring because the row cover did not stay in place over the flower beds. As a result, our frost protection this year is already in place and staked down. I found row cover pegs that have already held the frost cloth in place during windy nights.
It has been a full year. I have learned so much and look forward to continuing to grow, learn, and be challenged in the years to come. Thanks for your support that has come in so many different forms: liking posts on Facebook and Instagram, buying flowers, attending wreath workshops, reading blog posts, passing along my business to others, mentioning my flowers to friends. You all have supported this business and me in so many different ways. I am thankful for you this year and for you coming along on this flower farm ride.
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