A couple newsletters ago I mentioned how as farmers we think months in advance and that we are already planting out some of our fall crops into the fields. This is also the typical mindset for our flower team. The girls and Porfirio (our dutiful flower harvesting dude) have been harvesting and drying flowers in our new drying “shed” for months to create beautiful, long lasting wreaths this fall/winter. They converted one of our chick brooders into this mystical room. It’s a hoop house built with PVC pipe and plastic sheeting draped with a shade cloth over the top to create a dark room.
To dry flowers you need heat, darkness (for color retention), and good air circulation so the flowers don’t grow mold. The sides of the shed are kept slightly open to allow air flow since the structure doesn’t have any outlets for fans. Strands and strands of twine support the hanging of the flowers from the ceiling and anywhere else the girls can find room to hang flowers. Every inch of real estate is valued in this tiny room! The drying tables inside the shed came from the greenhouses for a new purpose in life. The table surface is made of wire so flowers can be easily be hung from underneath or laid on top for the drying process.
Drying flowers is a great utilization of our extra flowers left over from bouquet making but we also grow some varieties in more aggressive amounts in the fields specifically for the drying process. Some of our flowers that are being dried (including experimental trials) are ornamental grasses, strawflower, larkspur, calendula, sunflower, statice, ping pong gomphrena, celosia, amaranth, and heirloom french wheat (which is sourced from a local Pescaderian neighbor & farm supporter). After the flowers are finished drying they are stored in air tight Tupperware containers on shelving inside the flower shed just awaiting to be opened in a few months for the wreath making madness to begin!
Drying flowers allows for an exciting and creative outlet other than bouquet making for our flower team and it also serves the purpose of Fifth Crow continually finding ways and means to offer year round employment for their staff.Being able to offer year round employment for the flower team when there are no flowers in the fields to harvest from November through February is incredibly important and wreath making is a fun avenue for everyone to benefit from. Another great aspect of drying flowers is that it decreases our flower waste. The flowers that don’t make it into bouquets now have a second function other than turning into compost which is great because the ladies (and Profirio, our dutiful flower harvesting dude) work so hard to harvest every stem out there!
The end result of all these dried flowers combined with evergreen leaves and branches are beautiful fall & winter wreaths that will last you for months or years depending on where you hang it at your house!
Last year we opened up the CSA webstand for the last few weeks of our CSA season so you could all special order our wreaths for yourselves or as holiday gifts. We certainly plan on offering these to you again this year so start thinking like a farmer and plan to buy a wreath 3 months from now 🙂 You’ll also be able to find them at our farmers market stalls starting in late October/early November through the winter for purchase.