We can no longer pretend it’s still summer. The days are shorter, mornings are misty with a real nip in the air and we have had a touch of frost. October in the poly tunnel is a time to look back and plan ahead for next year’s flowers.
Photo opportunities are always available in Autumn. This was early one morning.
I promise you there is absolutely no editing here, this is exactly how the camera captured the morning. (We don’t always have a Bell tent in the garden, it is supposedly drying).
It’s a time of looking back and planning ahead. It’s important to assess what has gone well, or badly, and when it’s time to take a crop out and replace. Zinnia, Rudbekia and Cosmos are valuable late flowers.
Tomatoes are growing in the poly tunnel, as well as flowers, and it’s hard taking them out while there are still tomatoes ripening. Often there are tomatoes up until November.
Trays and trays of seedlings are growing in preparation for next year. The trays of tiny plants are squeezed in here so the tomatoes and flowers get a reprieve for a few more weeks.
The seedlings of some hardy annuals will be tucked in here for the winter. They will taking advantage of the warmth and be somewhat protected from the cold and the wind which can be more damaging. Growth will slow down and watering will be minimal during cold snaps The plants will just be waiting to take off when the weather warms up in the Spring. This means the best chance of early flowers. Some will be planted inside and later sowings outside for a succession.
There are also bulbs to go in the ground, inside and out. Thankfully Tulips shouldn’t be planted until November so there should be some more space by then.
There is no denying it has been hot and while many plants are struggling some are thriving – Zinnias.
I certainly spend a lot of time watering. It’s time consuming as there is so much to do but it has to be done carefully too. The ground is so dry that water drains away from the plant if you water too quickly. When planting I try to make a shallow depression around a plant so water will drain towards it rather than away. It is best to use a rose on your watering can, as it sprinkles water gently without disturbing the soil around the roots. I pour on a small amount, let it soak in and then gradually add more. The rule is give what you think is enough and then some more.
The poly tunnel is full to bursting just now. There is also a rogue at the centre which grew itself.
The Zinnias are loving the heat and thriving. I love this little gentle pink one:
Some of the colours are not so gentle:
This one is unusual but the combination is very pretty:
But for me the real star is ‘Queen Red Lime’:
They look great in bouquets and last for ages in water.
This was how we started early in the year. Now that buckets of blooms have been harvested from here I can show it.
We removed the turf and dug it over. I follow the ‘no-dig’ method of gardening but it was necessary to dig over to begin with to remove weeds and loosen the soil which had been compacted. This bed is now divided in two with a path up the middle.
Seedlings went in and, as usual, I wondered how these tiny things would ever produce flowers.
Many of them are now waist high and flowering their hearts out.
Here are a few current highlights.
The challenging year goes on but the rewards are enormous and I love being able to work here every day.
Perhaps I picked the wrong year to start a Flower Farm. We had snow twice in March which is very rare here then very cold and wet weather in April followed by a mini heatwave then back to the cold. It is generally agreed amongst growers that we are 3-4 weeks behind a normal year. Whatever that is! Added to that we had a frost on the 1st of May.
The bit of warmth and sunshine we had was welcomed by the plants (and humans) and everything burst into life at the end of April. Things are moving so fast it is hard to keep up. It is a great joy after the long, grey winter.
I’m in Somerset and extremely privileged to have approximately 1 acre of land. It’s by no means all cultivated for flower farming, I’m starting with what I hope is a manageable but productive area to add to my existing cutting beds, vegetable garden and poly tunnel.