Going right back to the beginning of my cut-flower growing journey, it was the summer of 2020 and I had a problem... several hundred plants, and a distinct lack of growing space! The cut flower patch in my garden, although a good size, was simply not big enough for 700-plus snapdragons, scabious, cosmos, phlox...not to mention my rapidly burgeoning dahlia collection (if you've ever grown dahlias, you'll understand how addictive they are!)
Fortunately, someone came to the rescue and kindly offered me a strip of land down the edge of a horse paddock. And so the work began...
First day at the plot - June 2020
Time was against me, as I had trays of plants desperate to get in the ground. After a quick bit of weed control with the flamethrower, the next task was to knock up some raised bed frames for my no-dig beds. Having done my research - reading up and watching Charles Dowding YouTube videos - I had concluded that the no-dig method was perfect: it is quick to do (and you can plant straightaway), is relatively easy to manage, and allows the delicate microcosm of the soil to flourish without heavy digging disturbing it.
Starting on a small scale, four 8 x 4' beds were created: a wooden frame made of scrap wood, a cardboard layer at the bottom (to suppress the grass and weeds), covered with a layer of horse manure (helpfully there is a large supply next to the plot!) and topped with compost. These were then planted up with annuals such as cosmos, snapdragons and nigella.
The first few annuals go in...
Fast forward a month, and I was cutting a very small quantity of beautiful summer blooms. I soon realised that 4 beds weren't going to be enough, so 4 soon became 6, then 9...and that still wasn't enough! So at the end of 2020, I added in 3 more beds - 26 foot in length this time - along with one more small bed.
One thing you quickly realise as a flower farmer is that you always 'outgrow' your space - if you have growing space, you'll fill it, and then some!
The plot in Summer 2021
Next month - tales of greenhouse woe, and an exciting new team member!