Dave’s Penultimate Letter as ASCFG President

Now that summer is in full swing, and everyone is on autopilot, it’s a good time to look back at the past few months and see what you can do different the rest of this year, to make next year better. Here are some things to think about now:

1. Better planning and planting of perennials this summer and early fall to get a jump on those early-summer flower sales. Crops like Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower), Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (yarrow), Platycodon grandiflorum (balloon flower), Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley), Delphinium Guardian series, Polygonatum variegatum (variegated Solomon’s Seal) are popular favorites, and fairly easy to grow. I could go on forever listing varieties, but you can view any perennial catalog or website for hundreds of possibilities. Many perennials perform great when planted from plugs or liners in late summer or early fall. Phlox, sedum, yarrow, baptisia, and others planted this summer will yield a sizable crop next spring and summer.

2. Hardy annuals were once something only our grandmothers grew. Now commonly known as “cool flowers” to our members (thanks to Lisa Ziegler), they can provide the bulk of late spring to early summer sales. Incorporate items like biennial sweet William’s Tall Double Mix, larkspur, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’, and Bupleurum griffithii into your rotation. And don’t forget bachelor buttons. You’re gonna love ‘em, or hate ‘em, but in the words of the 70’s group America, “You’ll never know until you try.” Think of cool flowers like Nike: “JUST DO IT.”

3. Work more this year on fall bed prep, getting cleanup work done, and beds and fields ready for planting early crops. If spring is premature, you’ll be ready to put in an extra-early planting of sunflowers that will be blooming in May or the first of June. You could put up “Joe Schmitt” hoops this fall over prepared beds, ready to add row cover or plastic for protection over an early spring planting.

4. Find new customers now for next year. Check out the florists in your town, and the next two or three towns, looking for the ones who need your flowers. Visit farmers’ markets to see if there might be a need, and room, for your farm. Check out the better restaurants near you and see if they have fresh flowers on their tables and hostess stations. If not, they should have yours. If you don’t have a subscription/CSA, now is the time to plan ahead to have one next year. Partnering with a traditional veggie CSA, where members have the option to add a flower share, is a great way to get your flowers out of your field and into local homes. All these ideas need to be acted on this year, for next year. Waiting until next spring is too late.

Someone on Facebook recently asked “Can you make money grow growing cut flowers?” My answer was that you make money selling cut flowers. If you don’t sell your cut flowers, you’ll never make money growing cut flowers. Marketing is a huge part of any business. Success rarely just “happens”. You must plan for it, and work for it. A lot. Every day.

Remember:

Sales = Income ⇒ Income = Profit ⇒ Profit = Vacation

Now go plan a vacation.

Dave Dowling

Sales Representative and Warehouse Manager

Dave Dowling is a Sales Representative and Warehouse Manager for Ednie Flower Bulb. Contact him at [email protected]