Growing Farmers’ Market Flowers: Part 1

Those buckets full of $10 bouquets at the farmers’ market get me every time, but I realized this spring that I’ve totally underestimated them. I usually forgo the splurge anyway, unable to justify spending money on the floral eye candy, but I understand now that they are worth every penny. My attempt at growing my own farmers’ market-esque blooms has not been easy and has made me appreciate them even more than I did before.

This whole thing started last September when I went to the Vashon Farmers’ Market and saw these:

rubeckiaI saw these flowers and vowed to start growing more cutting flowers. And so it began. I searched around the internet and found the seeds I pined for – Irish Eyes and Prairie Sun Rudbeckia. As can be expected when seed shopping, I bought a couple more varieties – all daisy-like blooms, all vibrant warm colors. I blew $50 on fancy flower seeds. Yeah, I know.

seedsOnce the tomato and kale seedlings were out from under my indoor light set up, I set up the flats for flower seed sowing. I’d never dedicated that precious grow light space to growing flowers until this spring. I was an overconfident vegetable gardener trying my hand at growing some specialty flowers. It’s a whole other can of worms.

IMG_0747Here’s the thing – fancy flower seeds are particular. Unlike the vegetable seeds I’m used to growing, many of them prefer warm temperatures and light for germination. Keeping that seedling heat mat on for so long causes the soil to dry out quickly. Add in a long birthday weekend away and it’s over. All the potentially beautiful zinnias I planted shriveled up and died. I may be able to salvage the one or two rogue seedlings that are hanging on, but it’s not looking very good.

droughtRIP fancy zinnias, I wish you could have seen my garden. You would have loved it out there. The zinnias were survived by the apricot gaillardia, but they are still as small as they were a week ago. I’m willing them to grow.

echinaceaThe beautiful-looking Cheyenne Spirit echinacea I splurged on ($7.99 for 10 seeds?!) and planted is still invisible except for two spry sprouts. $7.99 is an investment to be able to have vibrant gold, scarlet and orange Echinacea beauties blooming in my pollinator pathway for years to come. Who knew echinacea could be such a challenge to grow from seed!

cosmosThe Psyche White cosmos, the most successful fancy flower seedlings of all, are ready to be transplanted.

rudbeckiaAs for the Rudbeckia, they’re in stable condition, but as small as can be! I’m just now starting to see the seedlings’ first true leaves, which means transplanting may be in our future. Here’s hoping my neighborhood pollinators and I have something to look forward to.

6 thoughts on “Growing Farmers’ Market Flowers: Part 1

  1. Grace in Seattle

    Stacy – Some seeds will take longer to germinate, therefore, try one type of seed per 4″ pot, in a tray with a heat mat under and a plastic dome over. That way, when one type of seed germinates, you can move the whole pot to another lid-less area (without the heat-mat). You won’t lose your labeling that way, either.

    I tried the “shove everything into one tray” technique too, and it was horrid to manage … some things coming up earlier than others, yet not ready to transplant … and then you transplant stuff out of the tray and they rearrange my neat rows of stuff that hasn’t germinated yet …. You get the idea. [And those 6-cell pots? Throw them out, unless you are putting one pea or squash per cell. Not worth it for tiny seeds.]

    My biggest problem this year is that since I make my own seed-starting soil, I often get weed seeds first. I need to learn how to sterilize my own soil (boiling water, I think … I don’t want to put all that dirt into the oven!)

    We should get together to see if we can come up with an efficient watering system for when we’re gone during the day. Come over and visit my rig sometime?

    Reply
  2. lindsey @ NW Backyard Veggies

    Yes. I have this beautiful woman and her daughter the farmer’s market where I sell soap and they have the most glorious flowers – huge sprays of purple and yellow and orange. Absolute heaven. I know I would screw it up. I leave it up to the masters. (and barter soap for flowers during the summer!)
    You’re a brave lady! Carry on!

    Reply
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