Rush, rush, rush, seems to be the password for the grower at this time of year. Doesn’t seem to matter what you choose to do at most any time, there is something else clamoring for your attention. Therefore, it is essential to set priorities. Sometimes it seems like a no-win situation, what has to be done vs. what has to be done. There are some things that just won’t wait, e.g. picking flowers that have a very short window of readiness, spraying for bugs that are going to destroy the blooms by morning, or getting product to the consumer at the best possible time. Some things can wait until another day. The weeds will be there tomorrow (as long as the seeds are not ‘spreading’) and sometimes planting can wait another day. Some things are best done in the morning and others are best done in the evening (napping is best done when the sun is the hottest!).

So the question arises, is it cost effective to add more workers? This can be a very hard question to answer and sometimes similar conditions call for different answers. Plus, one has the problem of what kind of worker to hire. Most times it seems that we are restricted to the type of worker that is available and we are just happy to get SOMEONE! Word of mouth is the best kind of advertising, both in selling your product and in finding good workers. Ask your employees (if you have some) to recommend people that they would feel comfortable working with for the jobs that need to be done. It is also important that you know your employees, whether they would give you a good recommendation or just a friend or someone they like.

Once again, we are back to the question of priorities for ourselves if we find that we can’t afford more workers. We must find ways to make the best use of our time. Some things that we have done that can really make a difference (and some of you may even have better ones) are:

• Harvesting: Using the best tool for cutting can make a big difference in the speed of cutting. There isn’t any one tool that works for everyone. The size of the hands, coordination and ability to bend can make a big difference in what works best for each person. Some growers use hook knives, clippers, scissors or other sharp instruments. My workers and I have found that the wallpaper knife with replaceable blades is very efficient, easy to carry and cheap. Once the product is harvested, finding the best and quickest way to get them to the cooler is very important. The easiest answer to that last question is…

• Mass transportation. For flower farmers, this comes in numerous ways, from push/pull carts to wagons to powered vehicles (golf carts, tractors, pickups etc.) For us, it has been the golf cart with three 15-inch ‘flower vases’ (buckets) tied in where the golf clubs usually go. It would be nice if we had that area covered. This allows us to harvest quite a number of stems and quickly transport them to the cooler without having to spend a long time in the sun while we are filling a large number of ‘vases’.

• Delivery to market. This is another area in which we can be more efficient with our time. We used to spend time pre-making many bouquets for the market and then hauling them to the location. The time spent making the bouquets and the space needed to transport them are both inefficient use of our time and space. It seems that a better use of our time is to make product at the market where customers enjoy seeing their bouquet being made (and even help in the designing) or they can also ‘design’ their own purchase to some extent. We still do make some bouquets because there are times that we have a customer who does not have the time to wait around, so it is a good idea to have some ready.

As you can probably tell already, there isn’t always a consistent or ready answer to some of the questions raised while setting our priorities. We each have to recognize our strengths and weaknesses and use our time in the areas that we excel. Since most of us are small operations, we then have to hone our talents and abilities to be able to do the best that we can in each of the areas that call of our attention. Education is our best tool, from learning about the p’s and q’s of growing the flowers to learning about the equipment that we are using to even getting to know about the market that we are trying to enter, start or enlarge. We do have the first and most necessary qualities to do that: desire and passion. So let’s go out and get ‘em!

Quinton Tschetter

Tschetter's Flowers

Contact at [email protected]