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Photos and text by Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent.
Cathy and Chris harvest zinnias in late September. Proper postharvest handling of cut flowers is extremely important and for some flowers starts right in the field with the stripping of their lower leaves. They do 5-6 plantings of zinnias from mid-April til mid-August.
Knuckle knife for cutting flower stems. The knuckle knife takes the place of clippers for most flowers (and some vegetables and greens).
Cathy with zinnia harvest in late September.
Close-up of zinnia. They grow the Benary’s Giant series of zinnias, all direct-seeded.
Cut flowers such as this pink Linaria and orange Calendula share space with flowering basil (far right in photo), all of which are combined into cut flower bouquets that both look and smell great!
Cathy cuts ‘Gold Coin’ marigolds – they sell marigolds as a cut flower and also use the edible petals in salad mix, adding color and flavor.
These black oil sunflowers were planted as a cover crop but are occasionally cut to take to market.
Truck loaded with flowers coming from the field. The flowers are taken to the shed where they are given a couple of hours to “condition”, taking up the flower solution/water until fully hydrated. Depending on the variety of flower, a specific “recipe” is used that enhances their vase life. After they are conditioned they are put into the walk-in cooler.
Cathy brings buckets of flowers from the cooler to the postharvest area wherethey are bunched, made into bouquets, and transported to market.
Cathy and crew load a customer’s van with flowers for a wedding. Perry-winkle is often asked to provide flowers for local weddings and other special events.
Mixed flower bouquets at the market. It’s always fun to see how the different colors change throughout the season!
‘Casablanca’ dutch irises with blue ‘Telstar’ irises in the background. Perry-winkle does multiple plantings of most of their flowers to ensure a long harvest period. Irises are harvested from mid-April til mid-May if all goes right!
Purple and white Agrostemma with bachelor buttons in the background.
The color on these Calendulas is stunning! These are grown as a cut and also as an edible flower. The petals are removed and added to salad mix. They also infuse Calendula flower heads in olive oil and make a soothing hand salve to sell in the fall.
Fresh flowers aren’t the only things that look great in bouquets. These heirloom rooster peppers are sold both fresh and dried in wreaths and bunches.
Gomphocarpus physocarpus (formerly Asclepias physocarpa), commonly called hairy balls, is a novelty annual sold for its unique seed pods. This cut is sold by the stem.
Gomphocarpus seed pod (top left), seeds (top right), and flowers (bottom).