The last week of August is upon us as I write my quarterly update. Some mornings fall is in the air and after a long hot busy summer, and I’m ready to walk out and feel a brisk wind from the north. But not yet, there is so much to grow and harvest. Our season can go till Thanksgiving if we don’t get a hard freeze and that’s what I always hope for.

Our part of Texas was blessed with timely rains and not too harsh of temperatures, which allowed for plentiful harvest. From what I heard at the Regional Meeting, growers in Oklahoma and other parts of Texas were not so lucky. Nancy Bartlett hosted the meeting in early August and her area was receiving too much rain. We got to tour her beautiful farm but unfortunately the fields were too wet for her to make many summer plantings. Things didn’t get any better for her with Hurricane Isaac coming right toward her and dumping tons more of rain, wiping out any plants that were there. Nancy has a very good attitude and just says she will plant again. I hope all the growers come through the storm okay and Mother Nature is nice to them.

Many folks gathered for the Regional Meeting, exchanged information on flower growing, and enjoyed listening to several speakers. I believe that no one left without learning a lot and taking some bits of helpful hints to use on their own farms.

One grower said she directs seeds her sunflowers by poking a hole in the ground with a solid dowel type rod and then uses a piece of ¾ “ PVC pipe , 3 to 4’ long and places it over the holes and drops the seed in and doesn’t have to bend over to place the seed.

Nancy had an interesting setup with her brood of chickens. She had some of the prettiest chickens from which she will harvest eggs to sell at the farmers’ market but the chickens worked to make her compost. She put down straw and the chickens turned the straw into compost which she will take out of the pen and use on her beds.

Fred C. Gloeckner reps Jerry Meyer and Joel Kemper were in attendance and told us all about the ‘Vincent’ sunflowers. These are upward facing, which could really be nice in bouquets and they have two rows of petals which help if you have any petal drop, your flower still looks full. This could be a promising variety.

Allen Owings of LSU gave a very informative talk on seed germination and stated that a germination mix should be used when starting seedlings. Also 50 ppm of nitrogen in the seedling stage should be used twice a week until they have a set of true leaves. I also thought it was interesting that he stated you should use the right nozzle when watering your seeding trays in order to not disturb the tiny seeds in their germination process.  Dr. Owings stressed the need to have your well water tested because the water does change and we should test it the same time each year. Nancy uses bat guano in her seedling mix to help with root formation.

When we go to these meetings, you get to put a face to the members who post on the ASCFG Community Network and Bulletin Board. One interesting grower I met at this year’s meeting was Tanis Clifton from Mississippi. The name of her farm is Happy Trails Flower Farm and she has a page on Facebook if you want to check her out. She grew a lot of beautiful lilies and several other flowers the past two years, and has a beautiful clean greenhouse with no weeds. I was really impressed by her energetic flower growing and know she will do great.

Fall is a great time to get old beds cleaned out and new ones planted. This morning as we headed out to start cleaning beds I was informed by my husband that they make this tool to pull rebar and steel posts out of your beds instead of struggling to get them up when you need to take them out to redo the beds. This lovely tool is so easy to use and sure saves your back. He has had this tool for quite some time but it wasn’t until I asked him to pull out a bed of zinnias this Labor Day that he pulled it out. It can be purchased wherever you buy your steel posts. We plant our zinnias in 100 foot rows and when it’s time to take them out, he takes the tractor with forks on the front and just scoops up the zinnias and puts them on the burn pile. Sure makes my life a lot easier and it works so fast.

Our National Conference is just around the corner and I hope you have all checked out the information, made your reservations and hope to see you in Tacoma for the awesome program, tours and cool air.

Rita Anders

Cuts of Color

Rita Anders Cuts of Color Contact at [email protected]