So, a disappointing July did not get me down, but because I had to start again, and continue to fight the drought this year, I have been quiet here & my social media. We have had our first frost, and will have another one tonight, so I will be using the tiny bit of time I have in the mornings before work to try to get my website and social media up to date!
So (above) you can see what our poor ground looks like even today- although we have had a couple storms, the rain is very hard for a short time and runs off quickly! Not helping the soil. In the few hours of dampness, the heat dries to soil to powder again. The trees survive by allowing leaves to brown and dry, and the plants are at a constant state of stress. Our clay soil is so hard, that when you walk on it, tiny clouds of dust powder puff after your steps. This fall was brown with a dappling of color because the trees were stressed. Our days are still in the high 70’s to 80’s during the day and 50’s at night. It appears that we will start a cool off soon, and I can only hope rain comes with it. But I have been trying to take every opportunity to use this time wisely and not to dwell on mother natures decisions.
First we set up a rain & dew collection area and pumped all caught water to the flowers- that’s why I have been able to have blooms at all!
I called and emailed nagging my well company weekly -sometimes daily- only to be told that I was bumped again because drinking water came first. Drought is hard on peoples wells and I completely understood, but wanted to be sure I didn’t get lost in the insanity. I continued going to any markets, festivals & food truck events I could, selling bouquets and stems and making new friends. I have been meeting so many wonderful people who are really supportive and want Acres Abloom to continue & they helped me get up at 5 every morning to get out to the fields!
Friends and Family came to visit and reminded me how much we really have accomplished in the first year. We went around Dickson and showed our guests why we chose this special town, and everyone agreed we did good! We found a friendly community with great events & the cutest downtown! We love Dickson, but somehow having the people who are in your heart, SEE that we are in a great place, well it’s hard to explain, but heartwarming and gave me a love sandwich I needed to keep going .
then the special day came the last days of August- the well truck arrived! But it was broken, and we waited another 2 1/2 weeks for it to be repaired- supply issues – Ugh! The day arrived for drilling and we hit water at almost 400 feet- a costly and not very productive well, but better than nothing! I can home from my day job to find that the truck was gone and the well was capped- I ran inside to see if there was water- nope! it would be another 2 weeks to get the actual pump and pressure switch and tank set up, but on September 18th we had running water! This winter and spring we will be setting up our irrigation and next years flowers will not be as stressed! I tried again for a NRCS help and was denied- Ill try again.
While waiting for the watering woes to be resolved, we were busy growing, mulching, harvesting, selling, and building. We are doing the finishing touches on our flower barn! not only does this area have our cooler and office, it has room for us to have and area to do workshops and bulk sowing of seeds, bucket washing and bouquet production. But probably the best news is – the barn cats finally get out of the tiny spot they were in and have a home.
At the end of October, we had to say goodby to our Elvis kitty of 20 years and we took a weekend away to go to NH. And after that much needed boost, we came back with vengeance and have been hitting the fields hard!! The rows are prepped and almost all mulched, many rows are planted, and we have set up the low tunnels (no thanks to NRCS- denied on that too). most bulbs are ready to go in and it’s really looking good for next season! I still have seedlings to transplant and cover before tonight’s dips in temperatures – so I’ll have to sign off for now – thanks again to all of you for your support of my dream.
Once again it has been a tough July this year- no rain for months but , today we got storms that put all the lost water from those months into one storm- Flowers are ruined and the ground is flooded. The seedlings for fall will also need to be started again as they are too wet and will die. Thats a chance I took trying to get good blooms for an event- I had as much done as I could, it wasn’t enough. So now I start over.
At dawn on Father’s Day I was in the flower field. It was a beautiful crisp morning. The deer were behaving and we’re up at the top of the property, not near the flowers, and the birds were chirping.
as I set to the task of weeding and got into a rhythm, I let my mind wander. I was thinking about how important fathers were, and how they shape your lives forever whether you know it or not. It’s just a little things that are so important.
It was my dad when I was just tiny who would just let me explore on our homestead. It was my dad who insisted that we have a homestead before homesteading was even cool ! He raise bees , we had ponies we had cats and dogs , chickens & so many other projects . We had an orchard & we had a humongous garden. We had chores -that taught us grit, self reliability, work ethics, and a love for the outdoors. He would gently guide us, but he really expected us to figure out things on our own. We were dirty happy kids who tried everything and had a love for exploring. My dad was an organic gardener in the 60s. He taught me about compost. He told me the soil was alive. He showed me good bugs and how the birds were eating things that we didn’t want on our property. He taught me to coexists with nature and that we were all part of the circle of life, having our own mission on this earth.
I had a small patch of snapdragons and marigolds – easy things for a child to grow- but like all children weeding was boring and so I would ignore the task. Instead of directly telling me how to grow something he instead would have a conversation at the kitchen table at dinner time he say how weeds steal from flowers of their nutrients so they don’t grow as big as pretty, or as tall as one might want. Being a little bit stubborn, I wouldn’t immediately go out and weed those snapdragons, but I would eventually get out there in the patch & weed. My snapdragons grew taller and more beautiful.
Gladiolas were my dad’s favorite, and he had a long row! I would watch him tinker and mess with them all the time, which is how I learned that not everything is instantaneous and things take time, and you must have patience.
In the field on Father’s Day I got a lot of thinking & weeding done! I needed a break from the weeding, so I did a little scouting for bugs in the flower field . I noticed this beautiful purple Gladiola just popping open and felt him with me for a moment. I’m great-full for the lessons I hadn’t realized I’d had so long ago.
The weather is warming and the sprouts are growing. The cool flowers that were sown last fall are budding and blooming
We have had more issues thrown at us from Mother Nature- strong windstorms, a thunderstorm that turned into hail, and we actually are already worried about drought 🤦🏻♀️
But overall things are chugging along- I’m sowing my succession plantings every morning, I cover the baby seedlings when I first transplant them, because they are so tender, hand watering with a watering can as we wait for our well to be drilled . I’m looking forward to a time when I can just automate the watering so I can spend more time on other things!
We had our first pop up of the season and it went well ! It was Mother’s Day in a local coffee shop . We are popping up at “food truck Fridays “ June 2nd and hope to get to more people to know about our farm. Starting to plan on farm events soon – still waiting for insurance issues to be sorted. And that won’t happen until we get our electricity finalized & a few more finishing touches.
It’s been an extremely busy and stressful time at the farm all of March and April-. The daunting task of uncovering and hand watering all the seedlings in the ground daily at the same time trying to keep new sowings moist and warm while dealing with the 5 winters of TN might make ya crazy! Then the battle to get electricity and a well at the barn – no I still do not have either 🙄 that has been just plain frustrating! But I do have good friends! My friend Pam came over on a precious Saturday and helped me put in the dahlias. It was so nice to chat over the work of digging and planting. Flower farmers can get lonely in the fields but just a sunny afternoon with Pam made me feel like I was stronger and ready for the season. The next weekend our dear friend Dan came from NH and we laughed, ate too much- took time for a boat excursion & got the perennials weeded and mulched and started moving some things around that were just to heavy for me. Just these 2 friends being themselves- happy and helpful gave me such a reset & I’m ready to start selling blooms. The sunshine also has made the flowers pop and they are blooming – So it is go time! I’ll start putting my pop up schedule on the calendar- as soon as I figure out how lol
Well the windstorm took the cedar tree that gave our annuals shade – snapped it in half… 🙄 In the photo you can see we are digging the trench for electricity to the workshop which is exciting news for us ! Right now we have cords from the house to light the germination room 😬!
The seedlings are cranking along & the temperature swings are still with us. Apparently Tennessee has “5 little winters “ so as I learn the weather patterns, covering and uncovering are back into my life. The cool flowers from last fall are now old enough to handle the cold snap we are currently in- hovering around 30 for 5 or so days . As I see it we have 4 more “winters”. we have had 3 cold snaps but,I have been told we are in redbud winter currently – so this year is early 😁
Tennessee’s 5 little winters – per folklore 1. Redbud -early April 2. Dogwood late spring. 3. locus early may 4. Blackberry mid may 5. Britches (meaning keep your long Johns out lol) late May
So currently I have cool flowers in the field outside growing & even budding, I have early spring annuals sown and getting hardened to get outside, I have early annual’s started and those will be transplanted mid April. All in the hopes for Mother’s Day blooms 🤞🏼 I will have flowers consecutively after that as I have successions of planting.
This February has been so busy and its unexpected for me as usually I am using this time for a reset for the coming year. In New Hampshire it was the coldest part of the year & full of snow storms and Ice. But it has been interesting to say the least living in TN for my first February! We have had lots of ups and downs, but the soil isn’t really frozen and so I have had more time to do bed prep! AND I have had to still to weed! yes that’s what I said, I’m still weeding!! I have cold hardy annuals in the ground and in order to give them the best chance, I have to keep the weeds in check. It’s mostly grasses and hairy bittercress, but you need to stay on top of it otherwise the crops won’t be able to compete!
When I am not weeding, I have been winter sowing seeds and, setting up the cooler as a germination chamber while planning for the season. I have many flower seedlings started and so many more to do! I have been able to make a bunch of soil for blocking so it will be ready for more seed planting soon. I have compost coming for more top dressing & have been continually mulching with leaves whenever I can get some more. I have also been trying to keep up with my Facebook (acresabloom1) and Instagram (acres.abloom) pages and hope you will check them out as there are a lot of photos there. Crocus are blooming like crazy right now and are so nice to see, but they are not for cut flowers. For cut flowers I have a few hellebores blooming and more to come. This will be a sparse hellebore year because they were transplanted but next year should be spectacular. I am hopeful that the tulips won’t get damaged by the cold snap that we are experiencing- yesterday it was 78 degrees today its 46 degrees and then it warms up again. That is so tough on plants. The Tulips should be our first blooms that are suitable for bouquets. After that there should be spring ranunculus and other blooms humming right along.
It’s been a mix of warm and cold here this January. The hardy annual flowers that are in the ground look great & the daily grind of covering and uncovering is becoming routine. In NH we just set it and forget it lol but here it’s much more complicated. Checking the weather twice a day is also the norm!
The interior of the shop has been keeping us busy too! We built our flower cooler!!!!! Saving up for the racks to go inside! Who knew how expensive foam insulation would be! A wood wall between equipment storage & shop is also up inside the barn. That will have to suffice until we save up enough money to do more.
I’ve added Gift certificates to the web site. For giving flowers for events like Valentines and Mother’s Day this year just in case we don’t have blooms yet. People can still give the gift of flowers, but the recipients can come to the Farm, spend some time with me in the gardens and get seasonal fresh flowers- once my season starts. I’m hoping that might be a way to sell some flowers ahead of time. We are trying to layout the farm very strategically so that it will be set up for photography by professionals & for when I can finally have “pick your own” events! Oh and I am adding a Bloomin’ buddy membership for my special flower friends. My plan is to offer exclusive discounts and one-of-a-kind gifts etc. to YOU special people who have been so supportive & signed up to my email list to be in the know. Our soft opening of the farm will be a member only event!
Honestly December was a blur as I’m sure it was for everyone! I’ve had to cover and uncover the hardy annuals because of unusually cold temperatures. Website updates have been happening …hopefully you noticed? But the biggest news, Acres Abloom has an exterior shop!! The interior will take a while as I want to get it right the first time. Just moving items from the basement to the barn seems to be taking a long time! Going through things making sure I am keeping the flower farm lean this time.
I went through some of my old, dried flowers, and some of my seedling trays and other equipment that is out of date. We will save dry flowers this year so new ones will be ready for the fall wreath season. Because we use soil blocking about 80% of the time I don’t need plastic trays that are cracked chipped or broken!
Outside, the new beds are under tarps to choke out the weeds & weed seeds and they are ready for transplanting as soon as it’s time.
We have not been able to get power or water to the barn. Thinking outside the box for now. Planning a rain water recycling program to water & wash/fill the buckets. Electricity will be more of a challenge! Electric company is charging a huge amount to bring us power -even with us doing the labor! For now we will use a generator if completely necessary and work daylight hours only. Flower seedlings need light so that will be the next challenge. It’s sunny & warm during the day but they still need 16 total hours of light per day and generators are loud so we need to figure it out.
I wanted to thank everyone who has been so supportive of Acres Abloom. We are so thankful that we have been able to do so much in such a short amount of time! Our new shop building is coming right along. I have so many perennials, tubers , hardy annuals and seedlings growing for next year. I’m working on updating the website so that I can offer a bouquet subscription & online options as well.
We are busy covering and uncovering as Mother Nature throws curveballs! Over the last 40 days it’s been a low as 19 degrees and as high as 78! Young seedlings need to be sheltered from such extremes so we use frost cloth and even sometimes layers of frost cloth and plastic to insulate the young plants. There was a day that I had to uncover and cover after only 2 hours- now that’s some weird stuff!
Our plan is to continue to work on this business through the next month, have a quick holiday break & be right back to sowing seeds for early spring planting. We are looking forward to offering the best specialty cut flowers as soon as possible this year…let’s see what Mother Nature throws at us 🤣
So, ever since I was little, my favorite holiday has been Halloween. I have fond Memories of coming up with the greatest of all ideas to walk in the costume parade at the elementary school, creating costumes with my parents- my brother & I always tried to be a pair or complement each other’s costumes. That night we would walk a around a tiny neighborhood collecting candy going in some peoples homes and actually hanging out with them having popcorn balls and hot apple cider. And then the final part of the night was to walk in the parade. . The local firemen donated the prizes and picked out the costumes worthy of the stage. Only homemade costumes ever got to go up from the gymnasium floor to the stage. We always won & I still love thinking up costumes to this day! As an adult I have always enjoyed decorating our home and working really hard to get trick-or-treaters to come way out where we live as we are never close to town.
This year was no different, I did a social media campaign, telling people we would be giving out treats, I decorated, I dressed up, I waited at the end of the driveway… not one trick or treater – booo hooo but that’s ok, I’ll try again next year!
I’ll think of other ideas next year & hopefully some families will come. We still had an awesome time at the Dickson Boo festival & saw thousands of trick or treaters gathered on Main street so my Halloween cup was filled. & next fall I plan on making the farm have a lot of flowers for everyone who loves Halloween & flowers as much as me 😉
As I write this I find the literal winds bringing changes to the farm. It’s windy & for the first time cool. I’m wearing pants & a shirt over my t- shirt for the first time since we moved here! A few select trees are turning yellow, fall is starting. October brought us our first family visitors and we had the best weekend! It was so fun to walk through the farm and show the transformation that has really happened in a short amount of time! Realizing the work we have put in helps me put things in perspective.
Soon we will have our building up & I will be preparing it for the push of next spring. Right now I’m extremely excited that I have a workshop booked in October!!! I’m giving a bouquet building workshop for a Daycares staff appreciation night – how fun! I’ve missed doing workshops and can’t wait. I’ve been watching the plants & carefully, fertilizing with natural emulations, deadheading to have perfect blooms for it.
Other changes seem to be that the armadillos that were living peacefully with us seem to becoming more bold! We had one come out during the day 🤷🏻♀️ not even afraid of Sprout barking at it? The photo below is not a very good photo but if you look closely you can see him there…
Dickson is still extremely dry(just look at that photo above!) , the task of watering all the flowering plants, the seedlings, the new perennials, the bulbs & the Corms keeps me hopping! The fact that we haven’t had rain is difficult because now I can’t use the rainwater that I had to store- it’s all gone. So we’re back to trying to be very careful with our well. But they say it is going to rain next week, and then we are getting an early frost 😬 which will end my cut flower season, but I’ll still be working on planting the rest of the cool hardy annuals, a few hundred more perennials, 600 ranunculus, 1500 bulbs and of course some more woodie shrubs. Once that’s done I’ll start the plan for next year’s garden while I work on wreaths of the dried flowers I was able to get this year. Next year I’ll have a proper drying area so I will be able to have some wreath workshops like I did in NH 😃
The last three months have sprinted by and I am just now starting to feel like I am coming out of the fog of hysteria trying to get the new flower farm infrastructure and plan to where I want it. Now that the deer fence is finally done the plants are having a good go at blooms. Lisianthus, Eucalyptus, Amaranth, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Celosia of every kind, Gypsophila, Zinnias, many Basil varieties are blooming strong! I’ve been able to spend a lot of time working on the perennial beds. It has me excited to see the beautiful perennials popping next season! I’ve put in tall Phlox, Lupine, Campanella, Echinacea, Daisies, Rudbeckia, Eryngium ,Yarrow, Hellebores , Peonies & Columbine. I’m still planting seedlings of other perennials but I don’t mention them until I know for sure they will make it here in this heat. I’ve got so many cool flower annuals started too! Snap dragons, Bells of Ireland, Bupleurum, Fever few, Sweet peas just to name a few!
The most exciting news is that my building that will house my shop & workshop area is being built in October… I can’t wait to move in there and out of the weather! Once it’s decorated and picture ready I’ll share! Workshop schedule to follow.
I wanted to say once again thank you for all of you who are supporting me! I’m excited to have florists and designers interested in my flowers & the special neighbors who have reached out for bouquets have made the last 3 months worth the struggles. Even just kind words from some of you have gotten me farther ahead by boosting my energy. My hard work is making the dream come true (again) but it can’t happen without people understanding the value of local flowers & wanting chemical free , specialty cut flowers that have been fussed over 🥰 I hope you know you’ve touched me.
From June to August was some of the hottest temperatures on record as everyone knows and the Flower farm was in drought management. With only a poor producing house well we could only water every 3 days – not ideal but we were managing. Thinks have shifted and the weather is going into anther cycle I think? Over the past week a few storms have come on like gangbusters! Today we have had 3 such storms with explosive cracks of thunder immediately after the flash of lighting. All I can do now is hope the tiny seedlings that were put into the ground this week fight to stay in the ground. The water is rushing down the aisles, but the plants are covered to protect them from sun , wind and rain so all I can do is hope it’s working & try to get things done inside that have been weighting on my mind. One of those tasks is to pour over my list for next year and make sure that I have everything started that I need. I have started for this fall so many exciting things, they just need to over winter 😬. I have to make sure I have the seeds for the spring. Soon will be a big change as I’m putting in another perennial field of peonies in November so they’ll be a lot of ground prep as we going to fall.
In October we will put in the building so I have a covered space to work in. A necessity with this sun! There are lots more plans for this coming year and I’m so grateful for all the support I get from my family, friends & customers ❤️
Deer fencing is almost up ! There are hundreds of perennials in the ground and the annuals are blooming! The plants are producing quality blooms and we are slowly meeting our new friends & customers.
Next change, we plan to build a barn that will house an area for me to process the flowers. The farm is such a work in progress, but so exciting! Hopefully we will have the barn completed by end of year!
As anyone who is following me knows I’ve had better years as a grower! Our badly timed move to Tennessee,along with a scorching June, deer pressure the likes I’ve never seen & a failing well so we can no longer water the farm- haven’t helped!! But I’m a grower who’s been doing this for years so I don’t quit! I started many seeds again & I’ve been planning the plantings that will happen this fall for overwintering cool flowers to bloom early next year . I’ve been working on the perennials & woodies area too. But I also decided it was time for some self growth.
I’m planning out small goals each day instead of looking at a long list of gotta get done! I still have that big list but use it to make the small goals feel less stressful. I work smart and lean on this farm – less extra work. And I’m letting Mother Nature guide me even more than I already did.
But most of all , I’m growing my sense of humor & laughing at every thing she’s throwing at me & stopping to truly enjoy the beauty she lays before me every day. Life is short and I need to smell the flowers.
Here in Middle Tennessee we have had a straight 16 days of 90+ sunny days! It’s been tough! Tiny seedlings & young plants are stressed! so I was watering to keep up & our well can’t handle the use! So now I’m in a new struggle of gathering every bit of rainwater and using it wisely!
Hopefully we will make it through this rough patch – we just have to keep trying. I did find a little patch of Tennessee’s state flower today.
Today I thought I would share with you the animals that we have seen here so far.
These are both good and will help the ecosystem. The bad below, this deer can just go eat somewhere else ! They eat my flowers right before blooming and can cost a flower farmer a lot of $! And obviously from the photo even with fencing your not safe – Sprout was right there with me and she jumped into our field anyway!
Now I want to be VERY clear- I’m not saying this ugly is bad! In fact they are awesome at eating rodents when they are adults and insects when they are small, I’m just saying they could be considered ugly
Steven saw the 6 foot snake right near the house and was alarmed!! His loud voice scared the snake so it dodged for cover under our stairs! We did the only logical thing – set up chairs and camp out until he slithers out and we get a better look! Tennessee is home of some venomous snakes & with our curious Border collie, Sprout , we needed to know …
After about 1 1/2 hours, he finally let us see him & his periscope habit which told us he was friendly not foe! We will try to live happily cohabitating in the same ecosystem. If it had been venomous our plan was to reach out to the Tennessee herpetologists so it could be removed safely & allowed to live somewhere without a nutty dog !
So we’re out in the field one evening trying to do some catch-up work, We’ve got the music on and we’re laughing and we’re working. Suddenly we’re hear … bang bang bang bang! The noise doesn’t stop it continues but Steven takes off like a shot and he runs as fast as I’ve ever seen him run, screaming “somethings wrong with the AC unit ! somethings wrong with the AC unit”! I of course immediately start imagining how much it will cost to replace an AC unit and fear takes over !! I dash to where he is. As I run I hear the noise has stopped ! I’m relived , until I come onto a gruesome site! Steven pulled the emergency disconnect and the fan was no longer spinning. He’s covered in something ! “What the heck is it?”I ask. Now I’m going the clean up the language but because if you know my husband, he wasn’t calm! He barks”It’s blood guts and s*it! “ and then I look into the unit to see an Eastern Fence Lizard, or should I say what was left of her! Steve’s covered in eggs, blood & guts! she probably jumped in to lay eggs but didn’t realize the fan comes on ! She had been a full grown 7 inch lizard a few moments ago and was now dripping off my grossed out guy! Well let me tell you , the clean up detail was full of rants – something about “stupid lizard”and “it’s like toxic waste” “I’m gonna puke” “holy s*it how much of this is eggs?”. Once he got it cleaned up and took a well deserved shower, we tried the unit and thankfully it was fine! I have had some private chuckles about his dash to the unit and the look on his face when I got to the scene! But it’s too new for him to laugh so I’ll have my chuckles here with you lol!