Though Oldham's no longer have a farm in Huttonville, we still see our old neighbours each Saturday when we visit the Brampton Farmer's Market.
A few weeks ago I stopped by the family's busy market stand to buy a bouquet of dahlias and got an invitation to go out to see the work they had done at their new farm near Rockwood Ontario.
What gardening enthusiast would down such an invitation?
And so it was that I found myself standing chest deep in a big field of dahlias one
beautiful Sunday morning.
This is a busy time of year at the flower farm.
The dahlias are at their peak and it was all hands on deck at corporate headquarters (a.k.a. the barn).
There was the odd slacker (this is Maya asleep on the barn floor), but everyone else was busy cutting and packing flowers for a big order when I stopped in to visit.
Out in the field, the dahlias were looking spectacular.
Dahlias range widely in height and foliage color, as well as bloom size, variety and shape. "Dinner plate" varieties may have blooms as large as 12" in diameter.
Dahlias tuberous-rooted perennials native to Mexico and Central America. They tolerate a wide range of soil types, but like well drained conditions (too much moisture will cause the tubers to rot). Always grow dahlias in full sun.
Tubers should be planted in the spring after all danger of frost has been passed. The proper planting depth for dahlia tubers is 10-15 cm (4-6 inches).
Taller varieties may end up needing to be staked later on. If you are not careful however, the stake can damage tubers so it is a good idea to position your stake at the time of planting.
Place your dahlia tuber horizontally in the planting hole with the eye pointing upward. Dahlias are heavy feeders so it is a good idea to mix in some organic matter and a handful of bonemeal when you plant them.
To promote a compact, bushy plant, pinch back your dahlia once it has grown about a foot high. It is also a good idea to feed them every two weeks before they begin to set bud with water soluble, bloom promoting type of fertilizer.
Side buds at the end of each branch can be removed if you want to encourage larger flowers.
The farm also produces other flowers like these zinnias and snapdragons.
Gladiolas used to be an important flower crop, but the family
tells me that they are not as popular in recent years.
Growing Lavatera as a cut flower was an experiment tried
for the first time this summer.
Lavatera trimestris: Lavatera are annuals that are easy to grow from seed. You can start them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost or sow them directly outdoors two weeks before the last frost date.
Lavatera dislike being moved, so avoid moving young plants if possible. Grow them in moist, average soil (rich soil will lead to lush foliage and fewer flowers). In growing them myself, I discovered that full sun is best. These are tall plants that may require some staking. Height: 2-4' Spread: 2-3' USDA Zones: 2-9.
Dahlia, 'Wizard of Oz'
Pompom dahlias have a ball-shaped flower that makes me think of a honeycomb. Pompoms come in a rainbow of colors and have nice long stems that are perfect for flower arranging.
Dahlia 'Yellow Pow'
In an upcoming posts, we will look at "Dinner plate" dahlias, as well as a few of the other flowers grown on the farm. I will also have some tips for storing dahlias over winter to pass along.
5838 5th Line
You can't beat the freshness of locally grown flowers!
Delphinium, dahlias, and a variety of other flowers are grown on the farm. Orders for special events such as weddings are welcome.
There is no catalogue at this time, but dahlia tubers are available for purchase each spring.
The farm also produces a wide range of vegetables, pumpkins and berries.
Visit the Butt's Berry& Flower Farm Facebook page