The Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension conducted a two-day workshop for farmers on Growing Cut Flowers for Market. The first part on August 10 was an all-day workshop with about 60 participants. We covered all aspects of cut flower production, from seed to market. View the complete agenda here. The second part was held August 17 at Perry-winkle Farm in northern Chatham County. We divided the participants into two groups, one led by Perry-winkle Farm grower Cathy Jones and the other led by grower Leah Cook of Wild Hare Farm. Participants got to see all aspects of cut flower production, from producing transplants to harvesting and postharvest handling. We discussed irrigation, tractor equipment, hand tools, trellising, fertility and cover crops, pest and disease management, deer fencing, record-keeping, and more.
Feedback from the post-workshop evaluations was excellent:
- 98% of participants said they would be able to select appropriate species/cultivars and improve production and postharvest handling techniques to increase cut flower quality and yield as a result of the workshop
- 98% of participants said they would be able to save money by only applying the fertilizers necessary to grow a healthy crop as a result of the workshop
- 90% of participants said they would be able to make improvements to their irrigation system and thus conserve water and save money as a result of the workshop
- 98% said they would be able to increase farm income from cut flower sales as a result of the workshop
All photos by Debbie Roos, Agriculture Agent.
Indoor all-day cut flower workshop conducted by Chatham County Cooperative Extension.
Egg-mobile for pastured hens next to cut flower beds at Perry-winkle Farm.
Participants received a knuckle knife for harvesting flowers and got a chance to try it out on an old gomphrena bed.
Cathy Jones (white hat on right) gives tips on how to use the knuckle knife to harvest gomphrena at Perry-winkle Farm.
Knuckle knife used for harvesting cut flowers. It’s much easier than having to carry pruners.
Looking at newly planted zinnias in the field. Cathy does several plantings of zinnias over the summer.
The group looks at celosia and gomphrena beds.
Cathy demonstrates how to select sunflowers at the proper stage for harvesting, and then how to strip the leaves in the field. Knowing when to harvest flowers is very important to achieving a long vase life. Usually the optimal time is well before they are fully open but varies by species.
Sunflowers should be harvested when one or two petals are just starting to lift off the center disk.
Both Cathy and Leah discussed how important proper watering was in the greenhouse. Leah demonstrates how to water newly seeded flats without washing seed away.
Bed of milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) with a visiting monarch butterfly.
Close-up of monarch on Asclepias.
Cathy discusses marigolds and Asclepias.
Juvenile eastern hognose snake (non-venomous) hanging out in the shade of the marigold bed at Perry-winkle Farm.
Cathy talks about postharvest holding solutions and techniques for preserving cut flower quality.
Leah discusses tractor implements.
Leah demonstrates a wheel hoe.
Leah discusses various small implements including scuffle hoes.
Leah talked about transplant production in the passive solar greenhouse made from Hebel block.
Bani, Sara, and Mike prepared a delicious lunch for everyone!
Mike Perry checks on a delicious wood-fired pizza made with farm veggies.
Some of the flower bouquets that Cathy took to the Fearrington Farmers’ Market the day after the workshop.