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Want beautiful blooms as early as March? Plant Annual Cool Flowers This Fall

As a flower farmer, I try to pay attention to all the factors that could affect the growing season whether it’s rain or lack of it, insect damage, and fungal diseases. For disease-free amazing flowers are grown in rich, organic soil that holds moisture yet has proper drainage. So instead of spending your time this fall drooling over seeds catalogs take a good hard look at your soil.

Fall planting in rich soil is key for great blooms in the spring.

Get a soil sample and pay a few dollars extra and get the percentage of organic matter. I throw 2 or 3 inches of compost in a bed after I clean out all the weeds. These consistent layers of organic matter will encourage beneficial microorganisms that will provide a healthy home for seeds or transplants.

August is the month that separates the professionals from the amateurs. It is at the start of the “dog days of summer” which means snapdragons and rudbeckia seeds need to be on heat pads and under grow lights. These two take a very long time to germinate so it’s now or never. It is also time to start corn cockle, dill, green mist Ammi, calendula, sweet peas, godetia, delphiniums, cone and cornflowers, bee balm, and throat wort.

Plant sunflowers now to enjoy them though the fall.

It is also time to start or continue the succession planting of sunflowers for fall arrangements and wreaths. For flowers to be harvested in the fall, plant sunflower seeds until mid-September. They are much sturdier in the fall weather than you might think.

While you are starting your seeds go ahead and prepare the beds. If you have a bed that is pretty much bloomed out mow it down and get those weeds out, throw some compost on it and cover it with a tarp. This will heat up the surface and kill any weeds that may have survived and curtail any additional plant growth. So, when you are ready to plant those transplants, it will only be a matter of rolling over the tarp and then mulching.

There is a biodegradable landscape paper called BIO 360 and it simply disintegrates into the soil after a month or so. You roll it out, puncture holes to put your transplants in, and the soil will stay slightly warm for root growth while smothering weeds.

My daily chores are dictated by the calendar. I am in hardiness zone 7B. This means that any seed packet that shows hardy to zone 7 can be planted in the fall in central Arkansas. Most need to be started 6-8 weeks to be ready to be transplanted 4-6 weeks before the first frost. In my zone, the first frost is November 4 which means transplants go in the ground on September 4 to get an opportunity to get established before the frost. So, I start my seeds in July.

Soil blocks are an important part of my strategy for starting my seeds early. Soil blocking is a seed starting technique that involves planting seeds in cubes of soil rather than the little plastic trays. To make sure my soil blocks have all the right elements to ensure my seedlings thrive, I have a specific mix of soil and other ingredients to create the ideal environment for cultivating a hearty start for my seedlings. Click Here (or click the photo below) to get my recipe for creating your own soil blocks.

Create your own soilblock with Dayna's special recipe.

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