Happy New Year, farm friends!
Before you ask, no - you didn't miss anything. There was no December newsletter. I was low on brain cells as 2018 wrapped up, and chose to spend any functional time available with family and friends. So here we are in the first weeks of 2019, and what happier, more hopeful sight than this year's potting soil positively gleaming in the winter sun?
I'm so excited to add dozens of new products to our lineup this year and to share beautiful flowers with you throughout the season! Bouquet shares through our Community Supported Floriculture (CSF) program are available now for purchase - please refer to our website for details. Grace your home or desk this summer with fresh, local blooms, or surprise a friend or loved one with a gifted share for any occasion.
Winterized bulb beds.
January is a natural time for reflection and planning with a crisp, oversized monthly desk calendar (which may just be one of my favorite purchases of the year). This farm (and this farmer) run on lists, and this month's jobs include general cleaning, financials, client meetings, and finalizing seed orders.
Ordering seeds comes second to planning out the fields, which is a dramatically more involved task than circling your way through stacks of glossy catalogues on the couch. We are strict about crop rotation for plant and soil health and employ a minimum three-year plan, which means that well over two hundred varieties need to be shuffled around without being planted in the same general location more than once every three years. It's the jigsaw puzzle of the farming sphere. I love puzzles.
Of all the cuts we grow, none are more beloved than the dahlias. We've already added seventeen more varieties to our 2019 line up! Despite being a bit of a finicky cut, they're easy to grow in your garden or even in a large pot. Be warned that they're a little like succulents - you can't have just one.
Over the winter, all of our dahlias are stored in the root cellar where they're safe from freezing temperatures. Approximately half of our current inventory is pictured above, waiting to be divided. The tubers are dormant, and division can take place anytime between fall and spring. Here at Omniflora, that's on our February to-do list so that by the time we start the greenhouse in mid-March, we can focus on seeding.
Close-up of a dahlia eye
To back up a bit, each dahlia tuber produces a cluster of new tubers throughout the course of a growing season. Each cluster can then be split back into individual tubers to maximize the number of plants for the following season. It's not wrong if you don't divide them every year and instead re-plant the whole thing: it's just not practical for commercial growing.
Dahlia division isn't difficult - it only takes practice. The most important part is identifying the 'eye' of the tuber. When they're dormant, these eyes can be a little harder to find. I'm using a green wire to point to a dahlia tuber eye in the photo above. It's approximately the width of the wire, and it looks like a small round bump. They're much easier to see in the spring when they start to color and sprout. In order to be viable, each healthy tuber should be firm, have an intact neck (the skinny part in the middle of the tuber - these often break during lifting, storage, and dividing), and must have at least one visible eye as this is what grows into the plant.
The recent polar vortex fracture is an ominous sign for what remains of winter, and more soberingly that it has only just begun. Hey - we could say the same about our 2019 season. It's just the beginning. The anticipation can be worrying or enjoyable (browsing seed catalogues on the couch is a real job), but either way it's a fresh start to the cycle... and a new desk calendar.
Thank you so much for your support of Omniflora.
I wish you a year of joy and discovery, filled with flowers.