Hello Flower Friends,

So, you are wanting to start a little cut flower garden? Maybe some vegetables too? Great! Make this year the year you get your hands dirty. Start that cutting garden, make your small space work for you and let’s get some flowers growing!

Over the past few years, I have learned alot. When I started I had only read the first Floret book and I started with very little knowledge. Success came only with failure, learning how to improve our soil, and what flowers grow best in our zone. Here are some things I wish I would have known, along with some tips that you can implement in your own cutting garden this year.

The Realtor was right: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The first thing you want to consider is location. This can make or break your gardening success. Here are some things to look for:

  • Full Sun: Most veggies and cut flowers need 8+ hours of sun. I tried growing dahlias with 6 hrs of sun and they were embarrassing!

  • Access to water: you’ll likely need to water at least once a week, so make sure it’s easy to water the garden.

  • Good soil: If you can avoid heavy clay or dry sand if possible. A good way to tell the health of your soil is to do a soil test. I bought a kit from Lowes one year, but the second year I contacted our local extension office and they came out and did a soil test. If your soil is not great, you could always build raised beds and bring in new soil.

 

DRAWING UP YOUR SPACE

Once you’ve picked a good location, measure your space and start mapping it out on paper. Start small, especially if you are a beginner. I used the Farmer’s Almanac my first year, and I’m still using that original plan for the general layout.

It’s better to start small and learn as you go so you avoid getting discouraged. Trust me. 

Our family started our gardening journey just 3 years ago with about 1000 sq ft and so can you! I told my husband I could grow lots of different types. I started with 40 different varieties and I would advise you to avoid that like the plague! I got burned out, and it was just my first year.
Personally, I’m a fan of 3’ wide raised bed gardens with 3’ pathways/aisles between beds. This year we build raised beds in our hoophouse and I will say I wish I had done it sooner!

You can get as nerdy as you want here. Some people are happy with simple sketch, others prefer to bust out the graph paper and the ruler. Do what makes sense for your brain and personality. I used a photo of our space, then uploaded it to ProCreate on our Ipad and sketched out what I wanted. What we have now isn’t exactly what I drew at first, but it is really close!

 

DECIDING WHAT TO GROW

This is SO hard to narrow down. I understand, dear friend. When you look through the seed catalogs, you want to grow ALL THE THINGS.  They are just so pretty. The pictures show beautiful blooms in perfect bouquets. Don’t be fooled though, you want to start small and choose wisely. THE SECRET TO SUCCESS is that Self Control!

Every single plant (veggie, flower and fruit) has slightly different growing requirements and it can be tricky to master them all at once. Many people try to do too many things at once, get overwhelmed and frustrated… then quit. I felt that way a few times if seedlings didn’t germinate. Also, if you start with to many, you might forget about some seedlings, get behind on planting them out and that all affects when you were planning on having blooms.

Constrain yourself and commit to 5-10 new plant species each season. Within 5 years, you’ll have mastered 25-50 different plant species! Your skill level will grow each season as you increase your confidence.

Here are a few cut flowers that are beginner friendly:

*Spring: Tulips, daffodils, bachelor buttons.  *Summer: Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos

You can make some gorgeous bouquets with just a few flower varieties, plus you have the chance to forage. Solidago (Goldenrod) and Queen Anne’s Lace grow here on our property everywhere, so I use those as fillers when need be.

If you’re planting cut flowers, you can take the spacing requirements as suggestions. I normally plant cut flowers closer together than advised, since tight planting encourages the flowers to grow longer stems. You can check out my post about a dibbler for easy planting. My husband made me one and it makes putting seedlings in the ground a piece of cake.

I know this is alot of info, but to ease your mind a little you can download this Flower Garden Calendar with my notes about the flowers I’m planting. I’ve included when to start seeds, and when to plant out  those seedlings for our zone in 6 B. To adjust for your zone just check out Johnny Seed’s site. Check out their Seed Starting Calculator. It can be so helpful for your success!

Flower Garden Calendar

Enjoy the dirt!

-Amanda