Tulips, for most people they evoke thoughts of spring, or perhaps clogs and windmills, but mostly spring...for us, the association is a little different, for us it is fall. Crisp cool air, radiant light, blisters from digging, yeah, it was almost too idyllic there, have to dissuade people of the all is rosy on the farm concept. Yes, for us tulips mean fall planting and hopefully spring harvesting. The harvesting part is easy though so the strongest association is with the fall planting. We have tried it a few different ways at this point. Our first year we planted them in raised beds in the hopes they would come back each year. We got exactly one great crop out of them, lesson learned, tulips as a commercial crop are all about the margins, what does each bulb cost? What is the loss factor? What can you sell them for. Last year we grew about 150 in very generously spaced trenches. They came up, looked beautiful and we only sold a few because we didn't have cold storage and couldn't control the harvest. Second lesson learned, build cold storage (check). So this year we planted 1,000 tulips spaced closely in a wide trench (trench = blisters). 1,000 might sound like a lot but many established flower farms plant many many thousands. The reason is that tulips (like peonies) can be held in cold storage for a long long time; those beautiful imported tulips you find in the grocery store, they are probably weeks old by the time you see them. It's the closest we come to a commodity crop at BCF. So, this year we went with a couple tried and true varieties, Red Sensation and Evergreen, 500 of each. Our personal taste trends more towards the exotics but if all goes well these two varieties will be front and center at our early spring market stall and we want them to have a wide appeal. 

Once we had our trench we planted the tulips shoulder to shoulder and then put a layer of leaves on top, sprinkled with kelp meal and crab shells and covered with dirt. Our hope is that the leaves will break down over winter and should benefit the soil structure, the kelp is a slow acting natural fertilizer and the crab shells should be irritating to burrowing critters.

Now, we wait.

What's Bloomin' today

More tulips, the dark dark tall stemmed variety is totally getting planted for next year. Also, our old lilac tree is showing some love as are our very old rhododendrons (need to identify what species they are). The white double almost Peony looking tulips are also beautiful, but their stems are far too short to use in bouquets....they will be sacrificed to the compost gods unless they put some effort in.  

What's Bloomin' Today

Spring is here in full force and it seems like any direction you turn there is a feast for the eyes. Now, please keep in mind that this is our first year in the flower farm ramp up so we are still looking a bit floral anemic but progress is progress and the perennials we plant this year will make spring next year that much more impressive.

And let us not forget our indoor tropical beauties.....

UPDATE - Raised Beds

Last November, prior to snowmageddon, snowpacalypse, snow in general, we planted our raised beds. Now, we are happy to share the first update on how they faired. It's still early in the season yet, but we are seeing distinct signs of life from the majority of the species planted.

Tulips are up and looking very healthy. Ermerus (foxtail lilly), one has sprouted, it looks like a plant version of a squid mouth...that analogy may be lost on those of you who have not made calamari. Lilies are sprouting in quantity, as are the aliums, fritillaries, and narcissus. Of the Iris so far only two are showing, in truth we left them in their shipping containers too long last year so we suspected losses would be a sure thing from that bed. We will continue to keep you posted and of course, here are some pictures: