Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top 10 spring jobs on the farm

BRRRR well it still feels too cold to be spring but pretty much all the snow has melted so if we pretend it's spring then maybe the daffodils will consider opening and we can crack on and get stuff in the ground.
Spring isn't the only thing that is behind schedule this year, here are some of the jobs that we are still getting done (which really ought to have been done by now!)
  1. Clean out greenhouse - Wait for a nice bright day, open it up, sweep it out, wash dirty trays and generally have a good tidy up to get ready for the season.
  2. Keep on sowing and transplanting - there is still time to order seeds if things aren't going too well.
  3. Order potting soil, compost and worm castings
  4. Check over all fruit trees for pest damage, prune vines if you haven't already done so.
  5. Check over all perennials regularly as they come up to see whether or not they made it! Think about those that need dividing and moving.
  6. Keep clear of the pond so as not to disturb the ducks
  7. Keep dogs away from skunks and muskrats!
  8. Check the garlic patch to make sure the green shoots are popping up
  9. Enjoy the spring bulbs
  10. Sow sweet peas as soon as you can get on the soil! They are so worth it!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to grow your own Wedding Flowers: Part 2

Most important thing about local flowers...

Before we get carried away choosing any flowers, you must check when they are expected to bloom. This is crucial for your wedding to go as planned. You need your plant to be at the height of its blooming for your wedding day, some biennials won't bloom until the second year! So always check and double check flowering time. Check this flower page for an idea of what flowers are available when in Nova Scotia.

Eddie asleep on seed catalogue

Favourite Easy (ish) to grow Flowers for Summer Weddings

  • Gladioli - tall and simply stunning, more expensive than most seeds that's because they come as bulbs and you simply dig a large trench and plop them in. There are some awesome colours out there too as well as Wedding white. Perhaps too large for a wedding bouquet, but will surely make dramatic arrangements with height.
  • Snapdragons - Hardy and one of the earliest flowers in Nova Scotia. Come in a variety of colours and bloom all summer long too so there is bound to be something that matches your colour scheme. Many nurseries grow these so you may be able to buy plants rather than growing from seed. But check they are not dwarf varieties, because you won't get decent stem length.
  • Sunflowers - why not? Easy to grow and everybody loves them. They come in a fantastic array of colours from chocolate to peach to lemon yellow.
  • Zinnias - Come in a variety of colours and sizes and some even look very dahlia-esque. Many nurseries grow these so you may be able to buy plants rather than growing from seed. But check they are not dwarf varieties, because you won't get decent stem length.
  • Cornflowers / Bachelors Buttons - For me this is the best blue flower around, simple, elegant, stems can be cut long for dramatic arrangements or mini for posies. Best started from Direct seeding, which is kind of annoying because of the weeding involved! but it is worth the effort (get Mum and Dad to do it!).
  • Salvia - Not an impressive bloom but a great filler that comes in a variety of colours like white, pink, purple and even red. Again can be found in nurseries so you could just buy a plant but do check it's a cutting variety.
  • Statice - A great filler, keeps going all summer, comes in loads of bright colours and has a long vase life. Also keeps its colour when dried if you like to keep your bouquet.
  • Sweet peas - If you want fragrance and old-fashioned beauty then these are a must. They are hardy so can be put in the ground early.
  • Lilies - Well, these require a bit more planning, since they need to get in the ground in October the year before your wedding. Some associate them with funerals but I think they are great and easy to grow which is a bonus. But always check when they will bloom, they have a tendency to just explode, way before you really want them to.

    Also worth considering

  • Local grasses and wild flowers like Brown eyed Susans, daisies, cat tails, willow branches etc. Some of these don't have a great vase life but you can certainly use them for one day!
  • Perennials - you might not have your own well established garden, but may know someone who does. Here you will find roses, peonies, sea holly, globe thistle, lilies, alliums, hostas, astilbe etc. Obviously ask permission before you get harvesting!
  • Herbs - Many varieties of herb can add unusual flair to bouquets, look at basil, parsley, feverfew, garlic scapes, wormwood, rosemary, bee balm and even mint to name a few.
If you still love the idea of local flowers for your wedding but don't think you've got the time or energy then take a look here to see what services Oliver Farm can provide. Contact us with questions through the contact form on the left hand side of the blog or find us on Facebook by searching for Oliver Farm Botanicals.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to grow your own Wedding Flowers: Part 1

Here are a few points to consider when deciding whether or not to grow your own flowers for your wedding this summer.
If you prefer someone else to do the work for you, check out our new Wedding Flowers page.
  • Have you got the space, the tools and the time?


You won't need much outside space, of course it depends on how many flowers you really need. Bear in mind that we grow flowers to supply our local community and the Halifax Market the whole summer long on not much more than 1 acre.
You will need to work out how you are going to dig up your plot, if you haven't already. Have you already got a rota tiller or are you prepared to double dig by hand?


So space and preparing the soil may not be an issue, however, you will require a few essential tools like spades, forks, trowels, secateurs and watering cans, and more importantly be willing to get your hands dirty. The list is endless of course, to get great results you might want to splash out on mulch, landscape fabric, organic liquid feed, worm castings.. can discuss these in a later post but you get my drift. You can borrow tools but I normally find that if I need it so does the person I am borrowing from so it can get tricky.


That leaves us with a crucial decision maker or breaker... you've certainly got the willingness, but have you really got the time? To get the best results from flowers we suggest lots of tender loving care. Plus, they all need to be started now, in fact we started seeding some of our fancy blooms in February. So you need to get your skates on selecting and perhaps sowing seeds asap! Maybe you have a friend with a greenhouse which is perfect, or maybe you like plants in your living space (I have no choice in the matter and do not really recommend this option... it's a bit of a drag!).
Everything starts to go out in the ground after the last frost date has past. In Nova Scotia, this means you will need time around the end of May/early to mid June to get all your transplants in the ground or to direct seed.
Once in the ground, sadly it's not just a case of letting them get on with it and returning to them to harvest a week before your wedding. If your plants are growing well then so will your weeds, this is where mulch does come in handy, but usually there is nothing better than getting down on your hands and knees and pulling out the weeds as they come up. You will also need to be harvesting flowers and dead heading the plants to encourage their growth right up to the time that you require them. Furthermore, since Mother Nature is rather unpredictable you may also need to regularly get out there with your watering can and make sure everything is well watered. You will  also need time and energy to protect your plants from the sun and wind, not to mention invasions of bugs, deer and even neighbouring cats.

If any of these points are causing your enthusiasm for home grown Wedding Flowers to wane, then all is not lost, if you can enlist a friend, a parent or greenhouse grower then they might be able to do the work for you, in which case all you need to do is decide which flowers to grow. Check out the Wedding Services we provide here

Final considerations to plan for success

  • When are you planning on harvesting your flowers?
  • Where are you going to store your harvested blooms?
  • Who is going to arrange them for you? - don't underestimate the time this takes!
  • Have you got a plan B? There are no guarantees when it comes to growing your own so have a back-up plan in place to avoid last minute stresses.
My second post will cover how to choose which flowers to grow for your wedding.

If you don't want to grow your own flowers but would still like local flower for your wedding, contact us using the contact form on the left hand side. Check out our Wedding Flowers page which explains the services we can provide.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Veggies and flowers for local folk

We're so excited to be teaming up with the CSA veg box from Waldegrave Farm this summer. This means that local folk who already subscribe to receive delicious veggies weekly from Waldegrave Farm can now also sign up to receive a bunch of our lovely flowers this summer along with their vegetables.
For more info contact Cammie the brains behind the operation. You can find her here Waldegrave Farm Facebook page