Business is booming at a small flower farm in Portland
From their quaint little cart, Jason Aucoin and Kate Hanavan-Ross sell the gorgeous flowers they have grown in their two connected backyards. Hence the brand name: Backyard Blooms.
“We grow on about a quarter acre of land. Urban land,” Jason said.
“Yes, and we do real farming practices like on this urban land. It’s a flower farm next door, but we’re like a little farm,” Kate added.
The business partners have known each other since high school and didn’t reconnect until Kate moved to Portland. Funny enough, Jason didn’t know Kate was next door until she introduced herself to her new neighbor.
“After a few years we said, ‘Let’s do something with all this land, because there’s an amazing amount of it,’” Kate said.
Gardeners use raised beds and container planters to maximize space. They also use succession farming to maximize product production.
“We’re not just planting one crop, and that’s it for this season. We’ll plant an early crop, and once it’s finished flowering, we’ll take it out. “(Then) we’ll plant another one,” Kate explained, pointing to a field where tulips had grown but now have been planted. Annual seedlings.
“We amended the soil by adding a couple of inches of compost and some organic fertilizer. We just started growing our annual crops of cut flowers,” Jason added.
These are some of the annuals that Backyard Blooms grows:
One of Kate and Jason’s favorite annuals to grow are dahlias. Dahlias grow from tubers that must be planted in the spring for flowers in late summer.
“They don’t look like much, but they’re very tough little guys, and they’ll make beautiful dahlias,” Kate said, holding two tubers in her hands.
Kate went on to explain that the important thing about healthy tubers is that they have healthy growing points known as eyes. Then to plant the tubers, dig into soil that has been amended with compost and fertilizer about 4 inches. Place the tuber sideways into the hole. Do not plant the tuber vertically. Cover the tuber with soil and pat gently.
“And leave it as it is.” “You actually don’t even want to water the tubers,” Kate said. “You want to wait until the initial sprouts appear and pop up and out of the dirt.”
Dahlias grow very tall, and the weight of the flowers may cause them to fall. That’s why it’s important to share each plant. Jason recommends placing your stake first and then planting the tuber in front of it, so you don’t risk hurting your tuber with the stake.
Kate explained that they plant their tubers in mid-May, but you can plant them until the end of June to get flowers in late summer. I ordered the plants to be pinched in the center of the trunk above the third leaf once the plants reached about eight inches. Once they flower, the sooner you cut them the better.
“You just want to cut those flowers. The more you cut a dahlia, the more it will bloom,” Kate explained.
For more information about dahlia tubers and backyard growers click here.
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