24 November 2022
You may be wondering what we’re doing with ourselves now there are no flowers to cut in the fields and no Field Flowers products until the season starts next year. Well, aside from making and sending our signature bouquets which we do all year round, it’s certainly not a time for having our feet up, we can tell you that. Quite the opposite, in fact.
In order to have a successful season next year, there’s a lot of prep to be done through autumn and winter. This week we’ve been planting out bare root perennials such as Phlox Paniculata as well as some more raspberry canes. We’ll use these fruiting branches as foliage in our farm bouquets (the birds will have the fruit, or if he’s left to his own devices, so will the toddler).
Perennials tend to be more drought tolerant, so we’re slowly building up our bottom field with perennials such as phlox, mint, oregano, perennial campanula and raspberry canes. The top field we’ll use for all our different types of annuals. Hardy annuals are tolerant to colder temperatures so can be planted before the first frost, so we’ve been busy doing this with cornflower, larkspur, poppies, feverfew and foxgloves to name a few.
We’ve been prepping 82 new beds ready for planting in from May onward. This gives enough time for the soil and weeds to break down under a mulch. We’ve also added our own shredded compost and a generous splattering of animal poo. The end result will be a luscious soil come spring. We’ve been experimenting with how to use cornstarch film, which feels like really thin bin liner but is totally biodegradable and completely plant-based. Its purpose is to act as a weed barrier for the 3-6 months it takes for the material to naturally decompose, by which time the plants will have a big enough canopy to block out the light and space for weeds. Having lost quite a few seedlings because the cornstarch film kept getting whipped off in the crazy winds we’ve been having this autumn, we’ve now weighed it down with green waste and everything looks super happy in there. We’ve got our fingers crossed for this method of weed suppression as it saves us turning over soil unnecessarily and constantly yanking out weed roots!
In terms of planning which crops will go into these new beds we’ve broken the area up into several zones. One zone will be a new seed-saving area for us to grow some favourites separately from the crops for our own use or to save a particular variety that we love and is hard to find so we can grow it again. After the success of our dahlias this year, we’ve decided to dedicate a no-dig patch to them, while also preparing what we’re calling ‘Succession City’. This will be for fast growing summer crops such as stocks, cress and feverfew, which we will plant out every month to ensure we have steady, staggered blooming. This will extend our season, as opposed to a sudden floral bounty followed by no flowers at all. Succession sowing works well with these flowers which have a relatively short time between planting and flowering but don’t flower again once you’ve cut them.
Our first round of ranunculus is now in the ground, with a second round to go in in January and an experimental third round to go in at the end of February. This last round is an attempt to have focal flowers growing in May/June so that our farm bouquets have a mix of shapes – it’s hard to have a good bouquet without a focal flower, but not impossible. We don’t grow peonies (that’s a long game as you can’t cut from them for the first 3 years) so trying to find some bigger, round blooms for that part of the season is a challenge. We continue to fail at anemones! Our latest attempt all went super mushy before sprouting (last year’s all got eaten by mice). We’re a bit reluctant to shell out on any more corms as they are really expensive and compared to the roaring success of their ranunculus cousins it’s starting to seem like a bit of a waste. Luckily for us, we love ranunculus and it seems you do too.
Keep your eyes peeled for next month’s post where we’ll be discussing our functional but also rather beautiful solar greenhouse.Back to blog