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Bringing the farm home, July 31, 2012

Chief, a 3-week-old mini horse from Skylightminis Farm in Alachua, takes time to smell the flowers. Chief, a 3-week-old mini horse from Skylightminis Farm in Alachua, takes time to smell the flowers. (http://skylightminis.com)

Growin' flowers: Good for the garden & for you

FarmerBubbaLOGO3By Farmer Bubba Scott

Aloha ya'll.

Now that we're in the heat of the growing season, I hope all of you are thinkin' about what to plant for the Fall, because Fall is on its way.  Seed starting, bed preparation, and keepin' the garden soil alive should be on your mind.

I know it's hard to go out and do gardening in the heat. It's even been hard for Farmer Bubba. I sometimes wonder if I have any liquid left in my body to make the trip to the garden in the afternoon after a hot, hard day's work of home improvement.

But I do return to my garden every day, and I can do it because I keep myself hydrated, which is just as important as keepin' my plants and soil watered.

FBaug1aI've had something else on my mind lately. Seeing how it's the middle of summer, I've been thinking about growing flowers. You heard me. Flowers.

First, a disclaimer:  I'm certified as a vegetable grower, not a flower grower. I have to say this to ensure I keep my license as a produce farmer.

The most important thing I have learned about planting flower beds is that starting flower seeds is a lot like starting lettuce and greens seeds. Those little nuggets of color are real little seeds, and they can easily get buried too deep in the soil from watering or deep planting. Keep that in mind as we start this flower bed adventure.

BUBBA NOTE: It's important to pack the soil a little when you're starting your seeds. As I hinted at above, with loose soil, one good watering will send your seeds to new depths in your flowerbed, never to see that little picture of the flowers on your seed packs. When watering seeds, use a mister.

FBaug1dWhen you have your flower bed or starter trays filled with soil, pack it down a little. This will ensure the seeds stay close to the top of the soil.  The flip side to that is that flower – or ornamental -- seeds do a whole lot better if they're not in full sun.

Wow! That kinda puts a hurdle in the road for starting seeds outdoors doesn't it?

The sun will dry out the top soil as fast as you can water it. But there is another way to keep your flower seeds moist until germination:  Mulch your flower bed with old hay.

Even a couple days after you get the seed snuggled into its seed bed, a little loose mulch will help keep the moisture in.

Trust me when I say this. It's real important to keep your flower seeds wet at all times.

FBaug1cThere's also another way to keep the seeds from sinking down in the soil. Get yourself some paper towels and lay 'em on the dirt. Once the towels are in place, wet 'em down with a mister.

Place your seeds on the towel and cover with some loose soil, then wet the soil again. The paper towel will eventually decompose. Before that happens, though, the seed should start sprouting its roots and you'll be on your way to some really nice flowers.

There's another benefit to having your own flower garden. The flowers not only look good, but they attract butterflies and other beneficial insects that pollinate your garden.

There's nothin' like a native Florida wild flower garden to benefit you, your plants, and the natural environment.  Plus native wildflowers just look purdy.

It's very important to know where you get your seeds from. I mentioned this in my column last week--no one likes to plant seeds that won't grow.

BUBBA NOTE: I also said last week that some seed companies 'could care less' about the seeds they sell.  And it's true. Caring less doesn't always mean they don't care at all. Less is better than not at all. Either way, it's very important to let the seed company know if what you purchased is not growing. That helps keep 'em honest businessmen.

There's one more benefit to growin' your own flowers.

080112FBfBEDWhen it's time to get some flowers for your sweet little hun or loved one, it'll mean more to them if the flowers came from your garden.

This reminds me of a story about my grandparents. My grandma was in the hospital with cancer. She had a lot of friends and family. Her room was full of really big arrangements from the florist. I mean full.

We were all in the room with her, when in comes my grandpa. In his hand was a Folgers coffee can full of wild flowers he picked from around the country store they owned. The can was rusty but the colorful flowers made the can look like one of those fancy vases florists use. Grandpa placed the flowers on her bedside and you should have seen the look on my grandma's face.

Well, grandma beat the cancer. I like to think it was the effort my grandpa made bringing the store's flower garden a little closer to my grandma that day.

BUBBA NOTE: Flowers you buy at the store are different from flowers you grow yourself. Home grown flowers truly express who you are and what's in your heart. Anyone can stop by a store and pick up flowers. But there's just something about startin' your own seeds, watchin' the flowers go through their growing stages and having your own florist shop in your garden. WOW! I'm getin' a bit misty as I write..

I know, I'm a vegetable grower, but I think after writing this, I'm gonna bring some flowers into my farm mix this year.

Chief, a mini horse about 3-weeks-old from Skylightminis (photo at top) a minihorse farm in Alachua. This little guy enjoys a nice container of flowers, too. And what's a mini horse farm have to do with the farm report you might ask? I believe the operative word here is 'farm'.

Aloha from the desk, on Farmer Bubba's Farm.

AAsmallknifefork0311

Do you have a gardening question for Farmer Bubba or a photo of your garden you would like to share?  Email Bubba or add your question in the comment window below, and Bubba will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Last modified onTuesday, 07 August 2012 13:26

3 comments

  • Bubba Scott
    Bubba Scott Monday, 06 August 2012 14:57 Comment Link

    I want to thank all of you who read Bringing the farm home. My goal is to give just a little insight on what it takes to be a grower in a world where farming is becoming a second thought. We all need to eat to live. If by reading the farm report, one person got the urge to start their own garden, then I've done what I was set out to do.
    FarmerBubba

  • -C
    -C Saturday, 04 August 2012 19:13 Comment Link

    I was just introduced to your blog by a customer at work, and i agree, very enjoyable read!

  • DEPOT BOB
    DEPOT BOB Saturday, 04 August 2012 07:08 Comment Link

    ANOTHER VERY ENJOYABLE GARDENING COLUMN THIS WEEK. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK FARMER BUBBA.

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