I always try and kid myself that i don't work in this "bit" between Christmas and the New Year. The fridge is still full, there are friends and family to see, walks in the Surrey countryside to do..... But actually who am i kidding, I may not have to go into an office each day (and for that i am eternally grateful) I may not have to be frantically finding childcare for those Extra days that school's still out, but I am still being a Flower farmer.
The hours at the farm are shorter. They consist of putting up a greenhouse, laying cardboard and plastic to stop weeds, and baiting Mouse traps, and i've got family help. But the hours of planning for the coming season are plenty, although they often take place while something sporting is happening on TV that i'm ignoring.
So I thought i'd give you a quick idea of the planning that a Flower Farmer does. It's easy to apply to gardening or allotmenting, and if you'd prefer not to do the extra work, you can just buy the flowers from me that this planning provides all through the year.
First off I need to know what's been a success or a failure in the past season. I look through sales records, feedback from florists and event customers, Photos of the season, my diary - which often tells me the "should have had more" scenarios that the sales don't highlight. This year, the biggest successes were amaranthus, so there will be more of those grown, and the biggest failures were Sunflowers so these will be protected vigorously from the slugs this year.
Then i work out who i want to work with in the coming year. Which means i'll know what kind of flowers to grow. I started by trying to grow for every customer - bouquets, weddings, florists, contracts, farmers markets. But i've found which ones i enjoy working with, and so i'm growing in particular the colours and varieties that those customers like. My main markets this year will be My florists, my DIY wedding flowers, and my bouquets for my local shop, so the planning is veering towards the successful varieties for those.
My next set of work is on productivity. I need to get more flowers out of my field for my customers. I need to work no harder than the year before, and produce flowers at even better quality. My field plans are a big part of this, making sure that crops that flower together are planted together, so that there are smaller walking distances when picking. This year we're also working on some irrigation, so that we don't have to drag hoses around, but the plants get water when they need it.
Last I work on the budget. I know that people don't like to talk about Money in relation to their self employed businesses, but although i love my job, it's hard work. I need to know that i'll make good money this year, and i have to plan where that money is coming from, and at what times of the year, so that i can spend next Christmas enjoying the slight break and pause, rather than worrying about how to pay the January bills.
So i'm all practically planned for next season. The seed catalogues that are falling through the door are actually being ignored (for now) as i know i already have what i need for the coming sowing sessions. There's a Dahlia planning session coming up in the New Year, and i've got my Chrysanthemum stocktake figures to take into account for plotting what i'll grow for next November, but for now i can enjoy a walk today, and a few more leftovers from the fridge.
If you planning ahead to next season, and would like some more information and knowledge of how to grow cut flowers, arrange them or pick them, then please do look at the workshop details here
if you're a florist or flower farmer that would like a day of planning to ensure you're confident for the coming season and have taken everything into account so you have the best year ever in 2017, there are still places on my January 30th Workshop