About Good Scents

The cut flower business ended in 2011 but I continue to post other items about gardening.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cut Flower Business Ending

I decided to take a position as Managing Director of Project Grow and finished the Good Scents flower season in August 2011. I have been involved with Project Grow since the mid 80s, as a gardener, volunteer in numerous positions and board member. When the Managing Director unexpectedly resigned in June, I decided to apply for the position, have since been hired, and started on August 1st.

While it might be possible to do both - I ran Good Scents for the first 6 years while working full time - doing so would defeat the purpose of me stopping the business in the first place. While I love growing flowers and many other things about the business, it is a very time consuming job that leaves no time for any gardening outside of work!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wet,Wet, Wet

I got started last Monday this year (April 18th). It has been a cold Spring and wet, wet, wet. There is standing water in the paths at the farm, which is how I informally keep track of how wet the weather is. Between the cold and the constant rain, I have not had many working days. This week is supposed to be wet, too, but maybe the first week of May will be better.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Transplanting Already

The Lisianthus I started the first week of January have reached transplant size so during the past few days I moved all of them from 200 cell plug trays they were started in, to 12x6 liners. About 75% of them come up and survive this long so that about doubles the amount of space they occupy under the lights. In addition, I've also got seedlings for onions, pimentos, delphiniums, several Camnpanulas and Lady's Mantle, but all of those are still small.

I'm going to move some of this stuff to the greenhouse about the beginning of March, but right now the greenhouse is still unheated and freezing cold.

Another thing I am doing differently this year is I am not forcing lilies for May. I decided that they take up too much greenhouse space, plus the crates are really heavy and too much work to be schlepping them in and out of the greenhouse during hot and cold spells in May. I originally started doing this in hopes of avoiding having to buy flowers in late May, but I ended up buying flowers anyway (a lily stem or two does not create a bouquet, as far as I am concerned). They are nice but given my very limited greenhouse space, they are really costly.

I still plan on buying frozen lily bulbs from Ednie during the summer and planting those in crates, so there will still be lilies out of season in the summer, just no lilies in May.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seed Swap

Project Grow is holding a Seed Swap this Saturday February 12th from 10:00-11:30 am at the Downtown Home and Garden barn. If you like swapping seeds and meeting other gardeners, then this is a fun event. I will be there with:

Sweet Pimento
I grew lots of pimentos last year. I find these much easier to grow than bell peppers. The fruits are small but are quicker and more productive. I only grew this kind of pepper in my vegetable garden so the seed strain should be pure. You have to be careful when saving pepper seed because they are pollinated by bees. If you are growing many different kinds close together, they will cross pollinate and your sweets may be hot and so on. I originally got the seed from Fedco.

Red Bull Onion
Onions are pretty easy to grow and this year I decided to grow 'Copra', a yellow storage onion, plus a few red onions. Because I started only about 1/4 as many red ones, I had lots of seeds left and I'll be bringing them to the swap.

Dianthus barbatus
The past few years I started saving the most interesting Sweet William seeds (Dianthus barbatus). I really liked the 'eyed' ones that were purple, so I saved those, and also a purple that has an eye but is lighter and more diffuse. I've been growing these apart from other Sweet William for the past few years, so the strain is fairly consistent, and even when it isn't, the flowers are still pretty.

Genovese Basil
Project Grow's Director, Cindy, saved these from her garden last year and supplied them for the Project Grow plant sale in May. However, Cindy saved so many seeds, I'm going to make up a few packets and bring them to the seed swap, too.

I may bring along some other flower seeds that I got this year for Good Scents, too. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I had a fairly big die-off of delphiniums this past summer. For the past couple years I planted 'Aurora', one of the varieties I have long used, plus some seeds from Dowdeswell Delphiniums. The Dowdeswell varieties are beautiful and unique but don't seem to hold up as well though our hot and humid summers. I assume it was the summers because I have read delphiniums are super cold hardy and all the delphiniums were treated the same, so I don't think it was a difference in cultural treatment.

In previous years, in addition to 'Aurora', I have grown 'Clear Springs'. However, this year it was dropped from the GeoSeed catalog so I am instead growing 'Magic Fountains'. 'Magic Fountains' is an older strain, kind of a dwarf 'Pacific Giants'. There are more separate colors available than in 'Clear Springs', and you can get white and dark bees, which is kind of cool. So why haven't I grown them in the past? I think I had the impression that 'Magic Fountains' was maybe a little too short, plus I always had such good success with 'Clear Springs' that I had little incentive to try something different.

In addition to the Delphinium cultorum 'Aurora' and 'Magic Fountains', I am also starting some Delphinium belladonna 'Oriental Blue'. I grew this a couple years ago but unlike the other Delphinium belladonna I had grown, most of them died after the first year. They bloomed at the same time as Clarkia and looked really nice with them, so hopefully I will have that pairing again this year.

2011 Cut Flower Class

I'm going to be teaching a class on cut flowers for Project Grow on Saturday March 5th from 10am-noon. The class will be at the Leslie Science Center Nature House. Click here for all the details.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Organic Gardening

I do not consider myself a die hard organic gardener. For example, I don't always buy organic produce in the store. Most flowers are not seriously affected by pests or disease, and the few that are (like roses) are difficult to grow commercially in this climate anyway. The end result is that I raise all the flowers for Good Scents, and the few vegetables I grow for myself organically. Mainly this is because I just don't like handling inorganic fertilizers and pesticides.

I'm on the board for Project Grow and in May 2010 I attended part of the County Farm garden kickoff. One of the gardeners asked if Project Grow could put something on their website about what pesticides are organic and which are not. Here are some ideas that were suggested at the meeting:

Most things that are organic will say 'organic' on the label. Things that are not organic will say nothing. For example, 'Pyola' an insecticide that containing pyrethrins plus canola oil to help it adhere to leaves says it is organic. The popular insecticide Sevin (or it's knockoff Eight) make no claims whatever.

Organic products are natural. Insecticides are based on plant products. Fertilizers are based on animal products like blood and manure. Some fertilizers are based on fossilized material like greensand. Inorganic fertilizers tend to say things like "active ingredient".

The most common soil amendment used locally is compost (The City of Ann Arbor sells compost by the bushel and yard) and others include animal manures and peat moss.

There are fine lines separating many of these things. Recently, the word 'Organic' was defined by the USDA and growers must now adhere to guidelines and follow rules and inspections before using it. Food guru Michael Pollan thinks local is more meaningful now than organic. For example, many small farmers cannot afford to spend the time and money involved in receiving organic certification but companies like Dean Foods can easily afford these things. A couple people mentioned that the frequent use of ChemLawn and other pesticides locally may mean that Ann Arbor compost is not as organic as we would like to believe.

While all these things are true, anything grown organically in Ann Arbor compost or antibiotic laden manures will contain fewer pesticide residues than inorganic produce. In addition, anything grown organically will not further contribute to pesticides and chemical fertilizer use.

Thanks again to the gardener at County Farm who brought this up!

Dawn Farm Garden via Google Earth

I have looked at the Dawn Farm garden where I grow most of my flowers on Google Earth before but never took the time to see how to save the image and post it. I finally did so and here it is! The image shows 136 100sf beds. The picture was taken in May so there basically isn't any color. There are daffodils blooming in the picture, but in mid-May they are all white anyway so none of them show up.

To the North and East you can see a couple white boxes which are the bee hives maintained by Laura K.