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Blustery cold growing outside

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!

Flower cooler is almost done –

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.

Interior wall of the shop

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!

If friends were flowers, I’d Pick you 🐝

Flower farmer

This flower farm is updating- Out with the old & in with the new

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.

Frost covers -it’s a love hate relationship

I went through some of my old, dried flowers, and some of my seedling trays and other equipment that is out of date.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!

Yup that’s snow!

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.

The new shop exterior

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.

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Thanks

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.

Baby ranunculus

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!

Row covers that have to come off in the morning & on at night – if you look closely you can see the new building in the background 😉

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 🤣

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Halloween

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 😉

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Winds of change

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.

The building plan … kinda

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.

Cosmos

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…

Armadillo during the day?!

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 😃

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September news

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.

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Drought to deluge

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.

Our peony field won’t be this spectacular, but a girl can dream

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 ❤️

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Change is good !

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!

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What’s growing

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.

The first blooms on the new farm despite the deer munching & dry well
First blooms in the field – I think the double digging that we did to add organics to this clay have helped!

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.

A toad who dug himself into my cool just watered seedlings 🙄

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.

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16 days and counting

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.

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The good the bad and the ugly

Today I thought I would share with you the animals that we have seen here so far.

One of the good
Good :Eastern box turtle
The bad

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 …

North American racer – ugly but beneficial

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 !

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Bang bang ….no way!

The field to the house sprint route

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!

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One more trip and we are officially moved

After the nightmare trip we were positive the last trip down (with the pets) would be fine. We had packed the last of everything, cleaned the old house & barns and said our goodbyes. We put Elvis the house cat in his own crate with a cat box, food and water. Repeat for the barn cats but together so they have a buddy. After we stuffed in the straggler items and clothes we see there is hardly room for poor Sprout our border collie! After some squishing we are off on the journey.

The first few hours of barn cat crying was annoying but kinda expected so kind words & some music make it bearable- time to switch drivers & stretch legs. Sprout is enjoying a run around and not to keen on getting back in but she does so reluctantly. We set off for our next 3 hours- surprisingly it’s kinda quieter, maybe the cats settled….ewwww what IS that smell . One of the barn cats is carsick about and hour in – nothing we can do except clean it up and press on. Half hour before we stop to switch again, we humans are getting antsy and know that we can’t stop until the next rest stop as this is a crazy part of the drive. So all 3 cats decided to 💩- yup all 3! Like they were trying to kill us with the stench!!! Sprout wasn’t the only one with here head out the window!

Are you kidding me?

So here I am in a rest stop trying to clean out 💩 without letting the barn cats out who want to escape like Houdini! We went into the truck stop and bought the biggest air neutralizing freshener and back in the car we went. The rest of the trip was smelly but uneventful & getting settled into our new home seems ok!

Too tired to explore
Tired Elvis
Barn babies
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The big move…

The second to the last trip down to Tennessee was tough- I can laugh at it now but I wasn’t then! We strapped the pop up shop onto a car carrier, hitched it to the 16 foot uhaul and off we went… 5am start an 18.5 hour trip turned into oh so much more. The first 6 hours were actually uneventful and the calm before the storm. It was the second switch of drivers when he noticed a little rubbing on the straps🧐 – tighten and move on – so for 6 more hours we were more attentive but pressed on!

Oh but by the time 12 hours had gone by we were tired hungry and we just needed to stop and sleep- after over an hour of totally trying to restrap the little pop up shop;it was moving way to much and we were going to figure it out or so we thought , we gave into hunger and exhaustion. The restaurant was just next door – hurry to get something to eat… sorry kitchen closed. So after a lovely dinner from the cooler and a shower with no pressure, we laid in a hotel bed worried about tomorrows trip too exhausted to sleep but determined to get some rest.

Fresh start 5 am – things seemed good with the new tie down for hours 1-3. That’s when we see the strap that is cut through except a few strings. I immediately jump on Google to see the closest place to get new straps. 50 minutes behind us. We were determined not to go backwards we will just push forward. About 20 minutes later- the straps were flying and flapping like flags down the highway- we stopped on the side of the highway to assess the damage. We try another way to tie down and push on. Now we are driving no faster than 50 , flashers on and stopping for strap checks . After them being loose multiple times, in the end decided it was safer to check the straps every 20 minutes. Pull over, tighten straps, yell & swear at each other and freak out about the nightmare trip… repeat – yup that’s how the rest of the trip was 🙄 And then we still had to unload!

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Growing good Microbes

After Solarization I will need to help the good microbes flourish so the bad doesn’t

I’m making leaf mold biology from the woods on the new farm so that microbes are indigenous to the area. No need to buy products- Mother Nature has provided it already!

Grapes on the property

It’s going to be a long time before I get this soil living again- compacted soil with high clay content – gonna need lots of organic matter to make this healthy! But we found grapes and plum trees and raspberries and blueberries and blackberries

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Solarization & Microbes

Starting from a 5 acre horse pasture will have it’s challenges! Weeds! Compaction! Monoculture!

Solarization will help me with weed pressure ! It’s a long process of 4 weeks so we will get right to it! Plastic over a freshly watered area weighted down, and Mother Nature does the rest! The sun heats the soil to temperatures that kill bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes, mites, weeds, and weed seeds.

Monoculture has this ecosystem needing regenerative practices to get the diversity back! We need organic matter added to the soil to help it heal itself with biology! We need microorganisms to flourish again- that takes diverse plantings & along with the organic matter & a small amount rock phosphate (microorganisms food) & mulch(habitat) , and then an inoculation of good microbes for a boost of good guys & we will begin the journey!

It’s alive!
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Another trip down

I’m writing ,as it’s my down time from driving. We do 3 hours and switch. It’s beautiful in Pennsylvania today! It’s neat to see how much greener it is, the more south we go! It was 29 degrees F when we got up, it’s 58 in Pennsylvania & it’s gonna be 80 today in Dickson! Oh I can’t wait to see what is blooming. I’m going to have to learn so much fast with this new zone😬. We brought all the flower farm stuff in this load so there’s going to be plenty to do, and we fly back to do more in NH in a day- got to go be the navigator- more news soon

How do I have more? lol
Almost the whole flower farm we can’t put in another thing!!!
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Barn cats new digs arrived

So I was worried about the barn cats since we don’t have any infrastructure at the farm yet, so for now they are getting a large shed to live in and it can house the tools later . The cats will need a transition period of about 30 days so that they stay at the new property, so all their toys and beds & “homey” things will be in the shed . Once they are sure about where the new home is they will go on patrol.

Getting placed
Cool equipment that made it super fast
Home sweet kitty home in the shade 💕
Close enough to the house to keep an eye on the shenanigans!

Hopefully getting the cats moved in by May. Time is speeding.

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Packing & goodbyes

In fairness to the animals, I will find them homes nearby. The 18.5 hour trip will be too hard on them. Saying goodbye is hard but the right thing to do. As the chores go away when the animals leave, my days will be filled with packing after 14 years on this farm. So many decisions- but the new farm is going to be a lean, regenerative & sustainable farm. I’m going to do things easier with less consumption. I’m going to get the right systems set up so I’m able to break away from the old habits & give away things that I no longer need. It feels good to have a plan and to farm smarter not harder. And honestly I can’t wait to get rid of the snow blowers 🤣

Goodbye huge snowblower!
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First trip

Exhausted, sad, and ready for the first truck trip. It’s so hard to remember the plan – don’t fall back on old habits keep this farm lean if you don’t need it don’t bring it. 

Just the house stuff & a few plants

Of course it had to snow during our drive…. to remind myself while we were doing this.

Reminder of what we want to leave

After unpacking , and looking at our new farm, walking the land, playing in the soil again, I had a freak out moment – how long will it take to build the infrastructure? We’re going to need a place for the all important barn cats as soon as possible… our solution is a large shed pre-built that will house them as well as much of our stuff while we wait for the other buildings to be designed and built. This journey is going to be a lot of exercises in patience.

Rodent control is extremely important on a flower farm!
A brother and sister who have been with us for a long time now 💕

They bring me voles and mice that have been near the flowers and they get tasty treats