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July 30, 2020

My Little Flower Farm

by Liz Lark-Riley

For the last seven years, it’s been my joy and privilege to work at Rockledge Gardens…but up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t planted a single seed since I was a little girl.

Like many of you, I’ve taken up new hobbies to keep my hands and mind occupied during the strangeness of the pandemic and its ramifications.

Spending more time at home has led me to repaint my bathrooms and guest room (well…more specifically to delegate the painting to my husband while I add the final decorative touches), rearrange the furniture and fill my home with more and more plants.

When we moved our breakfast table to a different part of our home at the beginning of June, I looked at it and decided that it was begging for fresh cut flowers in a vase at all times.

I also knew that our budget would not take kindly to me adding a weekly bouquet to our expenses. And this launched a brand new hobby for me. My miniature back porch flower farm!

Can’t you hear it begging? “Puh-lease adorn me with a vase of flowers!”

If I couldn’t buy bouquets every week, I would grow my own! I chose my back porch for this project…the fact that it gets full sun with no shade prevents us from using it much for relaxing but all that sunshine is perfect for growing flowers!

We stared with several inexpensive blow-molded nursery pots (I chose 7-gallon and 3-gallon pots), four big bags of Ocean Forest potting soil, and some seeds.

Theresa (my mother-in-law and our flower queen) recommended zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers as great cutting flowers that can be started from seed easily…even in our hot and humid Florida summers.

And, because I’m not known for my patience when it comes to home decor…we added a few salvia and gomphrena plants for instant gratification.

I watered my little flower farm daily and watched with pure joy as little sprouts poked through the soil. to stretch and grow in the sun.

I probably put too many seeds in each pot but at the time of planting, it was so unbelievable to me that this would actually result in flowers for my home. But guess what? It did and does!

garden soil
It started with plastic pots, dirt, and seeds.
My flower farm this morning!
Sunflower ready to bloom! This thing is taller than my five-year-old and it was a tiny seed just six weeks ago!

It’s been six weeks since I planted my seeds and today I harvested enough for three little bouquets!

Zinnias and gomphrena!
Gomphrena and two types of zinnia!
More gomphrena for the win! This plant just keeps on giving! Anybody hear a Who?

Tending my miniature flower farm offers a few moments daily to wander out into the morning air and feel at peace while I nurture a living, growing thing.

Watching these flowers grow has been a visual representation of hope, possibility, and the spectacularly transformative power of nature…in just a few weeks!

Tips for growing your own flower farm!

  1. Choose an area that gets full sun for the best results.
  2. Check with your local garden center to find out which flowers grow easily from seed for the time of year and your location. Flowers with good stems work best for bouquets!
  3. Don’t skimp on the potting soil, high-quality potting soils like Fox FarmsHappy Frog, Ocean Forest, or Strawberry Fields are all good choices for outdoor containers.
  4. Keep the soil moist (don’t let your seeds dry out) but not too wet, and be sure to water thoroughly when there’s no rain.
  5. When you cut blossoms to enjoy in your home, be sure to cut just above the node to encourage more growth!
Every work from home station needs plants and flowers!