April 2016: Strawberries, Local Flowers & a new site
‘It was spring/and I finally heard him/among the first leaves- then I saw him clutching the limb/
In an island of shade/with his red-brown feathers/all trim and neat for the new year.’ -Mary Oliver
(Mel Resendiz at Oceanview Flowers in Lompoc, CA. Via AGF.)
The American flower industry declined due to the government’s “War on Drugs”. The Andean Trade Preference Agreement in 1991 lowered tariffs on South American goods, in order to encourage farmers to grow flowers instead of coca for cocaine. Suddenly cheap flowers flooded the US market, culling the domestic industry. In 1991, 64% of US flower sales were grown in the US. Today, 78% is of US flower sales were grown in Colombia, and 15% in Ecuador.
Here in California and the West Coast, floral farmers are fighting back. Organizations like Certified American Grown and the slowflowers.com florist directory are pushing the importance of “knowing your flower farmer”. US farmers cannot compete price-wise with imported flowers, but they do offer flowers with a smaller carbon footprint and socio-eco consciousness. Unlike the unregulated South American flowers, US flowers are more apt to be fresher, to be grown with regulated or no pesticide use, and grown by workers who are fairly-compensated.
San Diego has a long history of floral horticulture with Carlsbad’s Flower Fields and Ecke Ranch popularizing poinsettia plants in the US. Today Kendall Farms in Fallbrook (east of Camp Pendleton) is a local 500-acre flower farm offering bouquet delivery and farm-to-table dinner events.
Next time you shop for flowers, look for the Certified American Grown sticker to support CA farmers!
April Garden To-Do List
- Check trees for pests. Aphids, whiteflies and spider mites can be dislodged with a hard water spray. Large or persistent infestations we recommend treating with safer soap or neem oil.
- Thin fruit on trees to reduce weight on branches.
- Add new warm season plants. It’s time for the fun ones, like tomatoes, melons, and cucumbers!
- Harden and transplant seedlings into the garden.This video instructs how from minutes 2:38 on.
- Feed established plants with organic fertilizer.
- Treat slugs and snails (we have found success with pelleted Sluggo).
Keep your eyes peeled for a brand new California Farm and Garden
website, to be launched this April!
It will feature in-depth looks at UP clients and organic gardens, a glossary of helpful terms, and a glamorous new layout that highlights the beauty of the work we’re proud to do.
A hand-built raised bed with spring seedlings pops up in a San Diego backyard.