Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Year Has Passed

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great good mornings to you from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the loons call, in competition with the harsh voices of two crows sitting in an adjacent white pine. It's 31 degrees and the dark clouds don't seem to be moving much. Yesterday was a good day to get some planting done because today is supposed to be wet with snow showers in higher elevations. We are at 1500 feet so I don't think we'll see the white stuff quite yet.

It's been almost a year since I decided to start this blog as an offshoot to The Vermont Gardener
Now at 3770 hits I guess I may have roped the interest of a few, although I know some subscribers have opted out. One person wrote me personally and said they liked the blog but thought there would be a lot more information on starting a nursery business. That was my plan and still is, but lacking a dependable day stretcher, there are fundamentals to building a business which have to be done. In a geographic area like Vermont, an outside business is at the mercy of the weather and that reprioritizes things for gardeners despite what they had planned.

For those still impatient with me, I want to cite a good resource which might help while you wait for me to pull things together. I've mentioned it before because I was going to write the same sort of book myself except that the task never elevated itself to the top of my "to-do" list. The book is titled So You Want To Start A Nursery written by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery, Inc. What the book points out is that you need a well thought out plan and you need to follow it. Gail and I have a very good plan for moving our nursery and we are following it almost to the letter. What we don't have is a lot of spare capital so the "doing things yourself" part takes more time. Here are some examples.

Yesterday we scheduled the day to plant the western border garden. It is 408 feet long and I have prepared a ten foot width with the tractor mounted rototiller. For reference, the fence posts in the pictures are 30 feet apart. Half this width maintains high moisture because water feeds down the mountain across Route 2. The soil is clay loam but stones are almost nonexistent and save for the need for more organic material, it will grow plants well. Our plan was to plant things that complimented each other and could also handle full sun and high moisture.

We loaded the Chevy until it wouldn't hold any more plants and away we went. With a few minor changes, Gail's design worked well. I wanted to leave 18" along the grass so I could run the small Troy Built rototiller and keep the grass from encroaching. This entire area (previous to our purchase) was originally planted with White Dutch Clover to feed the deer and break up the clay. As we know, clover has a way of spreading and my plan was to keep it out of the gardens in subsequent years.

The transplanting went well until we got to the Astilboides tabularis and the Darmera. These plants had been in 1 gallon pots for two years and had expanded their root systems to the point they wouldn't come free of the pots without splitting them down the sides. 150-180 pots later we were finished but the "big pot problem" added another hour and a quarter to the project. Today we'll get back there and plant the corner with a variety of bee balms and hopefully

get started on a full season "yellow garden" with helenium, various rudbeckias, heliopsis and daylilies.

Monday night when Alex and I were returning from Burlington, the traffic halted at about the entrance to our property. A quarter mile down the road, a car had sheared off a power pole. Speed has a way of messing up your day if you're not careful but the accident reminded me I needed to call Green Mountain Power and get a price on a power pole. I called on Tuesday and found that I could mount the meter on the pole and the installation would cost $1200. The stipulation was that the company truck could set the pole from the highway. Although that's not a concern, I asked for a physical site inspection since the bank is steep there and the pole has to be high enough to match the pole on the opposite side of the road. The line has to be high enough to avoid the highest trucks.

The delivery and placement of stones for the daylily display garden almost two weeks ago was another positive accomplishment but it modified how many daylilies I could get into the ground before this week's temperatures dropped too low. With the stones in place, I had to spray the entire garden area with Round Up. 9000 square feet isn't that large in the world of plants but when you're spraying with a backpack sprayer it gets big real fast. Looking back on all the issues related to ground prep, I should have budgeted for a trailer for the tractor and a 50 gallon electric sprayer with a boom sprayer. Small business plans should not contain too many "should haves" but a few are not uncommon.

With the stone in place, Gail can start the actual garden design. She has been carrying around thoughts for some time but without the large stones in place, she was reluctant to proceed. That's just how Gail works. This week the design will take shape and we'll visit some nurseries and look at trees and shrubs on our list of possibilities. We'd like to get the trees planted before the snow arrives and that looks possible.

Growing a gardening business is an exciting job. A good plan and a pocket full of money help. Gail and I are the tortoises of the garden movement but in the end Vermont Flower Farm will have a nice new home and more than ever before, you'll want to visit.

Best wishes,

The Vermont Gardener

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