Well folks, its been real. I'm sorry to say this, but its time for me to graduate and to wrap up this internship. I hope all of you have been amused by the blog, and perhaps you may have even learned something! Please come by the farm to check up on the flowers for me. Michael might even give you the privilege of pulling a few weeds! By early spring there will be many flowers, particularly calendulas, to come pick and make into a bouquet for that special someone in your life. Nobody will tell you this, but guys like flowers too! Thanks again, and I will see you on the flip side!
An upcycle find that had plans to be used as extra storage on the Howdy Farm ended up not being needed. We rescued a shelf that was going to be thrown out by a Hort professor, but since there was no immediate need for it, it stayed outside as a year passed by. So, to the trash it inevitably had to go. Demoing it was a lot of fun. Rest in peace old shelf, your fullest potential was never realized.
This is a true travesty, but it was not unexpected… Dahlias are a tropical flower that can be either vining or a fairly short flower to be used in a bedding situation. The seed package said that they can flower within 70 days. We started the seeds in early September and planted them about three weeks later, and they looked like this.
Here are the dahlias a few weeks later. It was interesting to see the difference between all of the seedlings. The seeds that I got were called a “hybrid mix”, and they were serious about the “mix”! If your curious, the white stuff is an organic rose food fertilizer mix. It has plenty of phosphorus and potassium to make the dahlias flower and make big roots!
The plants were growing great! In fact at least 5 had huge flower buds on them, and they were about to bloom. Then, November 13th, 14th, and 15th happened… We tried our best to protect the dahlias, and you can see our efforts down below. But for three nights it dipped below the freezing point, getting down to 28.2 degrees on the 14th. Remember when I said that dahlias were tropical? Well it showed when I took off the cover. R.I.P. dahlias... I tried.
A new hope...
Dahlias are like potatoes- the make tubers to store energy. The tubers didn't freeze and they did exactly what I was hoping for! You can see in the picture below, they are coming back! My hope is their metabolism slows down over winter and that they don't expend too much energy on growth until it stops freezing. Maybe I will provide a little "Darwinism" and allow only the strong to survive. Come visit the farm in the spring to see if they survived!
This season the persimmon trees had struggles with pests. Birds kept on biting them, and only taking one bite out! Because of the damage to the fruit they were causing, the persimmons were falling off the tree early and were ugly! As a response to damage fruit produces ethylene, a plant hormone that causes the fruit to ripen and mature at a quicker rate. Therefore, the persimmons were falling off earlier than they should have. So, in order to save the crop we had to pick early and blet them, allowing them to ripen off the tree. This practice is commonly done on persimmons, pears, tomatoes, and bananas. This Fuyu variety of persimmon is a less astringent variety so technically bletting isn’t necessary, but because of the presence of the bird pests we had to harvest them this way this season.
This perennial bed of salvia was looking pretty sad in August when the semester started. The flowers had gone to seed and the whole bed was looking pretty terrible. In late August I dead-headed the whole bed and the BAM! 2 weeks later looked like this. It pays to dead-head your flowers and stimulate the growth of new blooms.
About 3 weeks prior to transplanting these stock seedlings were start life in the greenhouse. Statice (also known as sea lavender) makes a great cut flower and produce a beautiful purple bloom. They’re known to have long-lasting blooms and can be used for long-lasting arrangements. Statice is also a cold hardy plant and can be grown in the fall. The plants have established and are doing well. They’ve survived the heat and survived the cold so hopefully they’ll flower beautifully in the spring.
The asparagus was looking pretty sad. It had been affected by the “plague of Bermuda”. Much of it was looking pretty dead. So we performed an intervention by ripping out as much of the Bermuda grass as possible, then fertilizing with an 8-2-4 high nitrogen granular spread. And after giving it a deep watering, two weeks later it bounced back with vigorous growth as you can see in the picture. Depending on the needs of your plants, different fertilizers can be used to supplement your plants deficiencies. Since nitrogen stimulates vegetative growth, a high nitrogen fertilizer worked great for this perennial vegetable. If you’d like to increase a plants vegetative growth in a growing season a high nitrogen fertilizer will help do the trick!
This fall we’ve been received a significant amount of rain, with over 12 inches in October alone. That’s more than twice the monthly average for October. This has been having many effects on the productivity at the Howdy Farm. With everything being muddy we haven’t been able to till, pull weeds, or plant anything. The rain also caused significant erosion in parts of the farm. On the bright side, this showed us how we could improve the soil and prevent loss to erosion by mulching. We found that the areas that were mulched more heavily saw less erosion and provided walkways through the mud. Adding mulch is a great way to prevent unnecessary mud build up and keep your feet dry!
I’ve grown almost every vegetable since I was bitten by the horticulture “bug”. In fact for a while, I refused to grow anything I couldn’t eat. But then I realized people pay WAY more for flowers than vegetables. That’s when my attitude changed! So I have decided to start a cut flower garden in the raised beds here at Howdy! Farm. I picked mostly hearty annuals, but, if you’re a plant nerd like me, you’ll notice a few surprises! Here is the complete list-
I’m a quirky Biological and Agricultural Engineering student that is trying to tack in a Horticulture Minor before I graduate in December. I discovered my interest in horticulture in freshman year and the “YouTube Education” began. After binge-watching countless hours of gardening tips I started vegetable gardening- much to my landlord’s displeasure. That’s why I joined “Howdy! Farm”- so I could get the horticulture bug out of my system while still getting the security deposit back! When I found out I needed a few more hours to get my Hort minor, I figured I would hang out with Michael a little more and do this internship! Stay tuned- there’s more to follow!