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Flower Farming in January

Updated: Feb 19

One thing I have learned from flower farming is that even if growing in spring and summer, it is a year-round job. What goes on in January? With the holidays past, January is a time for organization, planning, and preparing for the year ahead:


Farming

Plant knowledge

One thing that surprised me when growing multiple varieties of flowers is how vastly different their needs were, including days to germinate, when to start the seeds, depth to plant transplants, days to maturity, and more. Amazingly, not all of this information is available on the seed packets, so that meant a lot of googling. And since I didn’t want to do it every time I needed the information, I wrote it all down. The first year of growing, I spent countless hours putting a spreadsheet together of all of the needs of each plant. With each plant as a row on my spreadsheet, I organized them from top to bottom for the ideal time of when to start the seeds.


Garden plan

While you could continue to plant the same plants in the same locations year over year, there are always learnings. There are some plants that I don’t start again, some new ones added, and an adjustment of how many I plant. There is also the reality of seeing how large things actually grow and adjusting how much space they need. There are many ways you can map this out, from drawings to spreadsheets. Mapping it out helps determine how many seeds to start given the space you have allocated for them.


Seed starting

January brings more early-spring flower seeding, including Black eyed Susans, saponara, phlox, dianthus, queen anne’s lace, calendula, bells of Ireland, bupleurum, cress, larkspur, bee balm, statice, stock, scabiosa, poppy, and mignonette. These all get planted out in March if the ground is thawed by then!


Sterilizing

Before seed starting can be done, if re-using containers, seed starting supplies should to be scrubbed and then sterilized so you don’t risk bringing any diseases to new seeds. Though some might be fine if you don’t do this step, it’s better to be safe than sorry, as I learned. While cleaning and disinfecting can be easier for a few trays, on a larger scale, it is a lot more time consuming. I started by spraying everything off in the grass when I got a few slightly warmer days without snow. Then, I put a bleach-water solution into a large bin, soaked the supplies for 20 min, pulled them out, and let them air dry. Since you are limited by space unless you start multiple bins, it ends up taking a while. Next year, I won’t save all the washing and disinfecting to wintertime and will instead get a head-start on it as they trays are used and the weather is warmer!


Valentine’s planning

While I don’t have flowers growing during Valentine’s Day, I have been wanting to offer a flower gift of some sort. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but hope to maybe next year! That might be a dried-flower gift, gift certificate, or co-collaboration with another small business.


Business & Planning

Income statement

January and February are a busy time for business analysis and taxes. Ahead of getting yearly taxes filed, I make sure I have all receipts from purchases and sales downloaded and put together an income statement. While there is software to do this, it is hard to justify the cost as a small business, so for now, mine is all done on excel.


Inventory

Putting together an income statement requires inventorying supplies. With a few supplies, this is easier, but with a lot of supplies, it is also time consuming. I split everything into cost of goods sold inventory, and SG&A inventory, with each item getting its own line. It is helpful to be able to have all of the detail to look back on if needed - you can track where you bought something, how much it cost, size, and more.


Website

With a little more time on my hands, doing things like writing blogs and website copy is ideal for this time of year. The first year I created a website, I spent countless hours writing copy, designing the pages, and getting it all set up. With an established page, that isn’t needed year over year unless you decide you don’t like the website provider. Switching means starting everything over from scratch, which I did my second year. It seemed easier at first, but there is a lot of complexity in a website and setting one up is a lot more detailed than copying and pasting. Once everything is set up, revisiting the copy and images is something that should be done annually, and the winter is the best time to tackle this.


Business planning and analysis

When pricing flowers, the best way to go about doing it is to analyze costs and price from there. I didn’t do this my first year and at the end of the year, came out without much profit. This resulted in my looking at all costs for the next year and figuring where I was going wrong. I found that some bouquets were being sold unprofitably. The analysis took a while, and also resulted in putting a pricing sheet together. The more variations there are, the more detailed this becomes. Again, one task that seemed easy at the beginning ended up being a lot more complex and time consuming than I thought it would be!



With all of the above, January ends up being one of my busier months!

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