Plants are in the ground at Fleurish Flower Farm
Agweek reporter Ariana Schumacher follows Christy Heckathorn through her season of flowers at Fleurish Farms in Elk Point, South Dakota, as part of the "Follow a Farmer" series.
ELK POINT, S.D. —You’ve probably seen farmers out in their tractors planting crops this month, but one farmer’s planting season looks a little different than the rest.
Christy Heckathorn is getting flowers in the beds at Fleurish Flower Farm in Elk Point, South Dakota.
Throughout the summer, the farm hosts U-Pick events where the public can come pick and build their own flower bouquets. Heckathorn is also a wedding florist and uses the flowers grown in her gardens.
“Starting last summer, we really hit the U-Pick events pretty hard, a lot of people would come to the farm and ask if they could pick flowers or they would pop in when I am outside working in the beds or rows of flowers and we thought it would be a good way to be able to engage the public so they can come and pick their own flowers,” Heckathorn said.
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The U-Pick events quickly became a success.
“We had people kind of from all over the state of South Dakota and neighboring states that came to pick flowers, so it was really exciting and cool to have such an awesome support of people,” Heckathorn said.
But there’s a lot that happens before the flowers see the sunshine. They start a majority of the flowers from seed at the farm in March.
“This year, we have almost exclusively used a process called soil blocking, which is where you make your own blocks out of dirt,” Heckathorn said. “It’s just a way more efficient way to start seeds, takes up less space when you’re growing them. I can have 200-300 plants growing on a tray, which if I use kind of the traditional method to start seeds, it would only be able to have like 70 plants.”
Not only can Heckathorn produce more flowers at a time, but they grow healthier.
“The roots stay contained in the soil block, so once the plant starts growing and if a root wants to you know, pop out of that soil block, it doesn’t because the air kind of keeps it in the soil block and the energy of the plant just goes back into growing that plant,” Heckathorn said.
They can only make a few soil blocks at a time, and they need thousands.
“It’s a little more labor intensive, but the flowers grow a third faster,” Heckathorn said.
The flowers are making their way outside a little early this year.
“The weather has gotten warm, kind of all of the sudden it just got hot or warm, so when I looked at the extended forecast it looked like we would be pretty good for temps, so we have a decent number of seedlings planted out already,” Heckathorn said.
They are also adding a sunny addition to the farm.
“We are also going to add sunflowers, about a half-acre of sunflowers,” Heckathorn said.
Heckathorn is keeping busy getting everything ready to welcome visitors to the flowering paradise.
“People love flowers, they love to be in the flowers, they like to pick flowers, I think it brings up a lot of memories for people,” Heckathorn said.
This year, the farm will also be adding a perennial area to the garden. You can see and pick the flowers for yourself during the U-Pick events, happening twice a week beginning in the middle of July.