5 Tips To Keep Your Flowers Crisp and Happy Longer

Something I love about working at Irvington is being surrounded by beauty all the time. There isn’t a lot in life that can bring instant happiness like freshly cut flowers. Who wouldn’t want their home filled with vases and vases of flowers? The trick is how to keep such a fragile living thing like a flower healthy for the longest period of time possible. While we do have to accept that flowers are living things that can’t live forever, we can do some things to make the flowers live a little longer.  Here are some tips on how to keep your flowers crisp, happy, and fresh for as long as possible.

1.     Change your water! It’s simple, really. Flowers want fresh, clean, bacteria ,free water. I know a lot of people suggest filling your water with bleach, vinegar, and all kinds of things to keep the bacteria away and your water clean and I’m not discounting that those work, but the simplest thing for your flowers is to just regularly change the water. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t want to drink it, your flowers probably don’t either.

2.     Recut your stems as often as you change your water. A flower stem is filled with cells just ready to suck the water right up to the blossom. When you cut the stem it makes an air bubble that will obstruct hydration to the top, recutting your stems at an angle with sharp pair of snips gets rid of the air bubble and lets the cells suck the water right up!

3.     Remove your stem greenery.  Leaves being left on the stem only aid into getting the water mucky quicker, and hijack the water before it can get to the blossom. Before putting all your flowers in a vase, clean the stem  of all the leaves that will be below the water line in your vase when it is filled. It will take less than a minute, and will make the biggest difference in the health of your flowers.

4.     Keep them out of direct sunlight. I know, I know, it’s so tempting. The flowers look so perfect with a cascade of light beaming on them through the windowsill. It’s an Instagram worthy moment, really. But don’t do it! Heat and direct sunlight will wilt your blossoms quicker. Stage your Instagram, and keep your flowers out of the heat.

5.     Move them to a cool location before bed. A cut flowers ideal temperature is around 40-50 degrees. Moving them to a cooler area before you go to sleep with help them stay crisper and fresher longer. 

Any other tips you use to keep your flowers happier longer? Share in the comments below! 

Beth & Adam

Madison Vincent sent me an email offering to help do the social media work for Irvington Spring Farm. I can take pictures I thought,  and kind of dismissed her offer. After discussing this further with the experts I was told “let her help you!” So, she is. And boy am I glad.

 Madi is a gregarious, warm - heartedyoung woman who has put her hand to the plow to get to know just what it’s like to be a “farmer florist”. We are so glad this senior Strategic Communications major at Liberty University sought us out.

Here’s her first post about a wedding she helped us set up at Pippin Hill, in North Garden Va. Welcome aboard Madi. 

“I hope the bride is as excited as we are,” was the last email I read the night before hoping into the big black flower truck and finding our way to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards for Adam and Beth’s big day! We really were that excited! After the truck was loaded, we all took a minute to breathe and we were off!

The best part of working with Irvington is that every ingredient placed in Beth’s arrangements was picked fresh from the farm with her wedding in mind. Our vibrant red/pink dahlias matched the color of Beth’s bridesmaid dresses perfectly, and the hues of the arrangements complimented the shabby chic vibes that define Pippin Hill. 

We were thrilled with how the arrangements turned out, and how wonderfully everything tied into Beth’s day! 

Thanks for letting us be a part of your beautiful wedding, Beth! 

What do you think?! Leave us a comment below! 

Waking up from Winter

March 1 is  a key date for us.  It's when we shift from "winter survival" to "spring planting". Even though there are still a few inches of snow on the ground, we've already gotten the spring planting of sapponaria and queen anne's lace in.  Here's Roscoe "guarding" the freshly-tilled soil in anticipation of seeding (or hoping the tractor comes back around).

We've put down several tons of compost so far...

We're busy in the evenings seeding celosa, gomphrena, coleus, marigolds, and several other annuals. This planting, to be finished March 2,  is around 25 trays, each with 320 soil blocks.  Here's how we do the blocks:

Things continue  to progress  well in the high tunnel. Ranunculus...


and Sweet Peas.

That was a cold one

I have to confess that this high tunnel. low tunnel farming that we are inaugurating this winter got a little scary this past week. I wasn't really sure that temperatures near 6 degrees would be tolerated too well. So, I hesitantly waited till noon on Friday, Jan 9 before I dared creep into the high tunnel and peek under the remay.           

Remay is this really light woven fabric that comes in handy for several applications around here. It's great to put on baby seedlings to keep them from wilting in strong winds, great to deter birds from feasting on tender new leaves , great to keep pests off your broccoli . In this case it added another 4-6 degrees of protection to a very cold night inside the tunnel.

Ta Dah! Baby sweet peas alive and well. Can't wait to smell their wonderful aroma.

 Flourishing poppies, a healthy green, upright and firm.( As opposed to brown and limp from freezing.)             

It had worked. I breathed a sigh of relief as I continued my "peeping tour" around the high tunnel.

The tulips were still just barely exposing their tips.

Relief turned to joy as I realized we had made it through the first cold snap unscathed. We're still on track for flowers in March.

Farming has so many examples of "baptism by fire". Ben and I had read the Elliot Coleman books. We had read the countless examples of high tunnel test plots online. The odds were in our favor.

But, reading about the science of something and seeing it actually work are two different things. Thankful that this time all is well.


Baby Plants!

This year, we're changing alot about where our plant material comes from. in the past, we've bought much of it as plugs (very small plants) from large growers in California. Now, we're buying seeds and, with the help of an experienced greenhouse grower in Rockbridge County, we're starting our own plants. 

There are a number of benefits to this.  First is variety.  We can do far more different kinds of flowers than when we buy from large growers.  We can experiment with things we've never tried and just do a few, rather than 200 at a time.  Second is cost.  We expect we'll cut our cost for plant material by abbout 65 percent this year on a per-plant basis.

and our first little seedlings just started coming up a couple of days ago.  here they are -  baby Stock plants.  Aren't they just darling?

We are using the soil block technique for starting everything. You can google it and find out more.  In the past few days, we've seeded about 4,000 plugs, almost all perennials and biennials that we'll plant outside in low tunnels around March 1. Included in our first planting are carnations, columbine, delphinium, sea holly, sweet william, and foxglove.  Here's the planting at Mountain View Farm Greenhouses, ready to go under the mister and start germinating.

Speaking of low tunnels, here's our first one.  It's got poppies, godetia, and some experimental ranunculus and anemones in it.

Here's the high tunnel mechanism that raises and lowers the sides.

... and some nice irrigation drippage going down on tulips.

Inside the fence in the main field, cover crops are growing...

there's a forest of t-posts to pull...

and the chickens are fertilizing beds.

Things are growing for next year!

We're far enough along now to say that we're officially finished the construction and initial planting of our first high tunnel.  A high tunnel is an unheated greenhouse.  It allows us to grow new crops that will not succeed outside, as well as to extend the growing season for things we also grow outside.

Currently planted in the tunnel are poppies, anemones, tulips, ranunculus, sweet peas, sweet william, sweet rocket, and bells of ireland. Needless to say, it's pretty sweet! 

The tunnel has side curtains that roll up, and programmable, thermostatically controlled motor system that raises and lowers them depending on the weather. When the temperature inside gets above 60, up go the sides.  When it gets below 40, down they go.

we also have a nice stand of about 250 foxgloves growing outside.


End of the Season

Hard to believe,  but the 2014 “garden season” has come to a close.  The flowers have faded but there is still lots going on, so stay in touch!

The high tunnel is almost finished! Already, Poppies, and Sweet Peas are growing.  4,000 tulips are planted, as well as 2000 Anemones and 250 Oriental Lilies.  Still to be planted are Ranunculus, Sweet William and Sweet Rocket. High tunnel growing is new to  us so check back often. We’ll be sharing progress and pictures.

We're in the midst of digging Tuberoses and Dahlias and packing them away for the winter.

Still to come:  transplanting Gooseneck, Monarda, Mountain Mint and Crocosmia.

And then, there's that never-ending task of cleaning up...

This winter we'll be partnering with Mountain View Farm Greenhouses in Rockbridge Baths to start and grow many of the annual and perennial plants we'll plant next year.  With 40 years of experience, they certainly know what they're doing, and we'll be learning as we go.

And we have 32 chickens in the process of "coming online" to provide us with a few dozen eggs to sell each week.

Planning a wedding or other event?  Have questions? It's not too early to start talking flowers! Please get in touch with us.