These beautiful lovelies pictured above are called ranunculus. This is my first year growing them and I'm totally in love. We've been growing flowers on the farm since our second year but I still consider myself an amateur flower grower. I'm certainly not an expert vegetable grower but I have a stronger understand of planting details for produce crops. Growing veggies and flowers together can be really challenging. It's like keeping up with two completely different systems with unique seed germination needs, planting dates, harvesting techniques and storage. Still, I love growing flowers and hope to slowly increase the number of flowers we offer on the farm as our business continues to grow. I would encourage you to buy locally grown flowers always, always, always over imported flowers. Locally grown flower are beyond superior in so many ways. They are fresher, higher in diversity and uniqueness and generally grown without harsh pesticides and herbicides. Additionally buying from a local farmer helps support small businesses and local economies. There are so many wonderful flower growers in this area, there's no excuse to buy those sad looking bouquets at the grocery store (unless they're from a local grower of course). So next you're at the farmers market, grab a bunch of flowers (or two or three) and brighten up your house with beautiful, fresh, local blooms.
There aren't many pictures of me because I'm the usually the one taking all the pictures. Ross is taking a week of "vacation" off of work to help me get ready for Spring so he actually took a picture of me. I often say that Ross is the brain and the braun on the farm, so I'm not so sure what my role is supposed to be! While Ross does most of the tractor work and organizing projects, I'm in charge of the day to day operations of the farm. I do most of the greenhouse work including starting transplants and microgreens. I also take care of all the field planting and weekly harvesting (with my awesome farm crews' help of course). Running the farm while Ross is away at work is tough, tough, tough. But I really do love it (no matter how much I complain). I couldn't imagine doing anything else! For the first time in my short farming career, I finally feel semi-organized heading into our fifth season. Instead of being overwhelmed and ridden with anxiety, I'm really excited to see what this year has in store and I feel we're going to be successful in meeting many of our goals. Don't get me wrong, I still have my panic attacks/why am I doing this/someone help me moments. It's just this year my freak outs are balanced with more hell yea/this is awesome/we kick ass moments. So even though you might not see me very often in pictures, know that I'm behind the camera working hard, trying to maintain composure and geeking out over my job as a bad ass farmer lady.
At the end of last week and the beginning of this week, we were very busy getting our spring transplants into the ground. Usually we're not the best at growing transplants, but this round of plant babies looks amazing. I think we're finally settling on a good system to create healthy transplants. This spring we're planting tons of broccoli, broccolini, fennel, kale, swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower and asian greens. Planting is a two to three person job on the farm. We use a Hatfield transplanter when planting. Click here to see a cool video of it in action. The great thing about using the Hatfield planter is that it puts the plant in its "home" in the row without the planter having to bend over. It's also a lot faster than making holes with a stick and then placing all the plants in the holes and covering them up. In one afternoon, we were able to plant 300 heads of lettuce, 650 kohlrabi plants and 1300 broccoli plants! This week will be more transplanting, prepping the beds for rainbow carrots and weeding the fall planted strawberries.
This Sunday, we were excited to get a visit from our sweet nephew Forrest. My sister brings Forrest to the farm from time to time to run around and burn off some of his crazy toddler energy. Forrest helped Ross set up the irrigation system we will be using for the season. Setting up irrigation on the farm is a total brain buster! Some of our crops (broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.) are watered using drip tape that is placed at the base of the plants while other crops (like salad mix and radishes) are watered using an overhead sprinkler system. We have to accommodate for both set ups in addition to our crop rotations when we're planning for the year. Ross is usually in charge of doing work like this in addition to taking care of most of the tractor work. I generally focus on planting in the greenhouse and the field and harvesting. I work on farm full time while Ross works off farm full time. Often Ross is up working early in the morning doing chores before he heads into work and then comes home to continue working at night. This picture is a perfect example of how he spends most of his weekends, doing chores and working on big projects to help me get through the upcoming week. Ross is the hardest work man I know. He's also the kindest, sweetest man I know and does everything with great energy and positivity. The farm would certainly be lost without him!
Ross and Jillian Mickens are the owners and operators of Open Door Farm located in the North Carolina Piedmont.