Like many of you, one of my favorite places at Stearns Farm is the Pick-Your-Own Flower Garden. It is always such a joy to see all the flowers as I pull into the parking lot and it provides such a peaceful place to meander at the end of a long work day. I love that the garden attracts pollinators like native bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds — and last year it was even a favorite hiding place for a neighborhood cat!

Each year, we make new improvements so it’s easier to maintain and easier to pick blooms all season long. At the beginning of the planting season, Kerry and I rototill each bed and then lay landscape fabric over most of them. Last year, Kerry burned holes in the fabric for the flower seedlings, which allowed flowers to grow while suppressing weeds. This year, we added landscape fabric in the main center aisle to make it even easier for folks to walk around. Wood chips will then cover the fabric down the center aisle, as well as between each bed of flowers. The chips do a very good job suppressing weeds while also preventing erosion. We tried using leaves in the past, but they are quicker to decompose and therefore, not a great long-term solution to suppressing weeds.

Sally Rosen, our PYO Flower Garden work-for-share, is responsible for regular maintenance during the summer. As Kerry and I start to spend most of our time with the vegetables, we are very grateful to have her help! She will assist in weeding the flowers, set up supports for some varieties that are prone to falling over and make signs with the names of all the flowers you’ll see during the season. We’re excited for this addition and hope the signs will help educate CSA sharers and other community members on the wide variety of blooms growing in the garden.

One last exciting addition to the garden this year are three beds of dahlias! Mel Hardy, Stearns Farm board member and the previous farm manager, kindly donated dozens of tubers to us in the fall. She showed me how to dig them up, split them, store them at home and explained how to sprout them in the greenhouse. I’ve only grown them once before so *fingers crossed* we get some beautiful blossoms in September. It’s a long wait, but boy oh boy are they worth it!

Note: The garden will be open to CSA members during the 3rd or 4th week of pick ups (we’ll keep you posted) and then open to the public beginning mid-July. Keep an eye out for announcements on our social media and website.

Until next time,