Episode 30: Karen Ackerman | Flowers Galore | Pioneer, OH
Karen Ackerman is the owner of Flower’s Galore an organic flower florist in Pioneer, OH. Their mission “is to use the natural resources we have while protecting them and to educate people about quality and vase life of local flowers. You can purchase flowers from anywhere, but only we can guarantee the quality and safety of the flowers but not using chemicals to enrich our floral. Every stem is hand treated and picked, ensuring the freshest, most beautiful flowers we can offer. We want our customers to smell deeply, smile brightly and walk away knowing they have some of the largest, and most beautiful flowers in town, all at a great price.”
Tell us a little about yourself.
Started Flower’s Galore business about 3 years ago. 2nd year was mostly a learning curve. This year Karen is going all out full-time
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
Watched grandmother who always had roses, and they never had pesticides, remember them picking a lot of bugs, and she was very detailed oriented.
What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?
Creating a habitat that is friendly for bees, butterflies, birds and beneficial insects.
Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?
My grandmother and parents.
How did you learn how to garden organically?
Karen has never used chemicals at all on any flowers around her house. Never really thought of it. Neighbors use pesticides and hate when they spray, the smell is horrible, flowers have died on her property.
Tell us about something that grew well this past year.
Grew dahlias last year for the first time.
Tell us about your place.
Business is located in actually Michigan on state line. There is a full acre. All beds are 2’ wide and there are 5 Beds that are 200’ long and 7 beds that are 175′ long. Each row is split into 3-5 different kinds of flowers depending on seeds.
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
The 1st year of flower farming got a whole pile of old manure, needs to be at least 7 years old or it will burn up your seeds. Last year couldn’t get any more manure, so had to direct seed onto the soil and ended up with tons of weeds. This year going to invest in plastic that will go down and burn holes in the plastic with a propane torch and plants seeds within the holes.
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
Biggest problem was lack of manure. Flowers were beautiful just weren’t gorgeous like other years. The height, size of flowerhead, insects etc.
Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.
Bachelor buttons. Come back every year because they drop their seeds.
Raised anenomes last year for the first time, can be picky, but just scattered seeds and they were blooming after the first frost and the florists loved them.
Took 2 buckets at a time consistently every week on the same day each week, and since the flowers were so beautiful the florists bought them and encouraged her.
Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate.
Everything that Karen has planted has come up. One of the toughest is zinnias, but are prone to powdery mildew, can wipe out your whole crop pretty quickly.
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.
Walking out amongst the flowers and seeing them start to bloom and the excitement of that they are going to be beautiful.
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
Lisa Ziegler from episode 2 also talks about deadheading.
Harvesting flowers in their prime?
Tulips coming up. 230 tulips coming up. When they are very tightly closed and you can barely see
Put in a dark cooler.
Coolbot – attach to an air conditioning window unit from Lynn Byzanski’s book the Flower Farmer.
Do you tips for putting together bouquets, or succession planting?
Followed plans in Lynn’s book for hoop house etc.
Need to know seeds, when do they bloom.
Just cut and put in buckets so there was a variety of flowers in the bucket.
Keeping track of profit and cost by recording flower stems in each bucket.
Going to sell wedding flowers this year for the first time.
A favorite internet resource?
Gretel Smith from Sunny Meadow Farms.
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can
Growing Flowers for Profit by Linda Tobey – an ebook. Lots of good information.
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to get started in the flower industry?
First check out your area and see if someone else in your area is doing what you are doing? And then go visit – Fox Farms in Eden, OH. Lots of everlastings. Need to take the time even if you have to travel, talking to other farms. Make sure this is something you want to do because it’s a lot of work. (Jackie adds: And remember if someone else is doing it that’s just proof of concept and their uniqueness is going to be different then your personality and look at it from a theory of abundance.)
Bonus: Florists will look at locally grown flowers as a selling point they can advertise!
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
For farmers to start experimenting more with organic pesticides, and improving our natural resources, there’s an epidemic in our farmers using chemicals … fear that there are so many cancers that come from the chemical and pesticides in our foods we’re consuming, and its in the ground and we’re all exposed to it, it’s in the air when they spray outside.
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
“Perserverance is not long race, but one short race after another.”
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