April 20th. Our first real tulip harvest for 2017! It's on. Tulip season is a big one around here. There's a lot of build up and excitement getting to this point. The winter was a long and cold one, and we aren't the only ones desperate for a little color and freshness in our home. Read below for more on our tulip venture, but if you just want to get your hands on some....
Where do people get these beauties? A few choices:
- Weekly/bi-weekly subscriptions. Folks who are signed up with us for regular flower deliveries get top priority on our flowers! We provide big bouquets of fresh flowers in the Homer-area for $25/week, delivered on Mondays. We'll start deliveries on Monday, 4/24!
- KenaiFoodHub.org. Starting *next week*, we'll be listing tulip bunches for sale on the Food Hub. You could login today and buy salmon, oysters, rabbit, chicken, basil, sorrel, cucumber starts and so much more. But you'll have to wait until Friday, 4/28 to order tulips!
- Individual orders. Are you hoping to bring some tulips to a friend? Brighten up your home sooner rather than later? We offer vase arrangements and hand tied bouquets of tulips ranging from $10 to $60 available for on-farm pick-up or delivery (charges apply). Call us for availability and to schedule a pick-up or delivery. 435-7209
- Save-U-More. As soon as we're able to fill our other orders and we're swimming in tulips (probably by Wednesday, 4/26) we'll start having tulips available at Save-U-More in Homer. We do these on consignment and work to keep them as fresh and stocked as possible. If you HAVE to have flowers, you may be better off calling us directly but we work pretty hard to keep the store stocked!
- Online Store. Similar to Save-U-More, once we have a solid cooler full of blooms we'll open up our online store for orders. On our store you can place orders for deliveries, and you can always purchase flower club cards and gift certificates for the farmers market!
If you're still reading, and want to know more about our tulips....
I don't really know how it all began. But early on in our flower growing life, we decided to try tulips. We started fairly big, with around 1,000 bulbs. We were terrified of voles and other bulb-eating rodents. Before planting, we dug out the bed and lined it with 1/4" hardware cloth. Shoveled in some soil, planted bulbs, covered with soil then topped with hardware cloth that connected to the underlying piece. UGH. It was backbreaking at the beginning and at the end.
It didn't take long to realize two things. One: Fresh, local tulips are AMAZING and truly unlike anything else if you haven't experienced them. Two: The hardware cloth had to go. It was a mess. So we worked on upping our rodent-trapping game, ditched the hardware cloth, and picked up the pace on tulips each year.
This past fall, the amazing crew at Twitter Creek Gardens helped us put in almost 9,000 tulip bulbs. It's our first year with fall-planted bulbs in the new high tunnels, and I'm terribly excited about it. I'm nervous, per usual, about the huge number of new varieties. I'll admit some of the buds are looking small, but Ben assures me that they'll beef up. Spring. A time of fabulous growth and potential, and always a small degree of anxiety on my part!
We pull all of our tulips out, bulb on (if at all possible). While some tulips will perennialize, they aren't as good as daffodils at that exercise, and they take up valuable soil in the high tunnel. They also store really well in the cooler with their bulbs on! We harvest at least once, and if it's sunny sometimes three or more times in a day. The goal is to pull them with just a hint of color for the longest storage and vase life potential!
We wash all of our stems pretty well. In talking with some other farmers this winter it sounds like maybe a bit too well - it takes a lot of time! But, it's part of our system and part of our awesome final product so we'll keep it! After washing they are wrapped in newspaper around the tops to keep them straight, and stored in buckets, totes, bins...by the end we're scrounging around for anything with four sides to stash our tulips in!
When it's time to make bouquets, we'll pull out big bunches of wrapped stems, cut off the bulbs, and lay them on the table in big piles. We bunch into 8-stem hand-tied bouquets or vase arrangements in regular or large sizes.
In about a month we are done with tulips, and pretty excited for a break. I'll start putting in an order for fall bulbs, and all of our energies will shift to summer blooms.
In October, our crates upon crates of bulbs will arrive. We'll rally a crew of wonderful help. We'll dig out beds, nestle in the beautiful silky smooth bulbs, cover them with soil and tuck them in for the winter. We'll set traps with peanut butter for the voles, and cross our fingers for a cold (but not too cold) winter. We'll wait patiently, and then not-so-patiently for the spring to come. As soon as the soil starts thawing, I'll start carefully digging around in the beds - looking for deep stems. Ben will lightly chastise me (I'm always digging around...patience, he reminds me. Patience). Then the stems will poke through, the leaves will flush out, the buds will form and then again we'll be greeted with the bright streaks of spring color. I really love tulips.