At FarmGal Flowers, we like to grow sunflowers that come in nontraditional colors like red and chocolate. We also primarily grow multi-branching sunflowers as opposed to the “one and done” varieties because we grow in urban spaces. So I am always on the lookout for new multi-branching varieties to try. I came across Italian White Sunflower (Helianthus dibilis) seeds as I perused the aisles at Eden Brothers Seeds just outside of Ashevillle, North Carolina last summer.
Italian White Sunflowers checked all of the important boxes:
Easy to grow
Multi-branching – LOTS and LOTS of blooms
4”-5” wide flowers which is a great size for our bouquets
Unique color (Note: it is close to white but not a pure white.)
Great vase life
I am particularly impressed with its vase life (about a week and blooms do not shatter easily) but what I really love is how each bloom has a little bend in its neck yet remains sturdy. This helps create that garden style look in our arrangements.
Italian White Sunflowers are currently blooming in the market garden at East End Market. Come check them out! Also, don’t forget about our next Girls’ Night Out at East End: Let’s Make a Wreath Workshop! Click here for more information! Hope you can join us!
Hello East Enders! Eileen here with FarmGal Flowers. If we haven’t met yet, I’m the flower gardener at East End. I receive a lot of questions when I’m working in the market garden so I thought I’d start sharing some information here with you on the East End blog about what’s growing. If there’s anything in particular you would like to learn about, please let me know!
First up is Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)! I learned about Cranberry Hibiscus when I began working in the market garden several years ago. Our Fleeting Farming friends planted it and it has remained a staple for many reasons…
At FarmGal Flowers, I always like to have a large crop of Cranberry Hibiscus for Fall bouquets. Let’s face it – we do not have a true Fall season here in Central Florida with the leaves changing colors, pumpkins on the vine, or apple picking. However, I’ve found that Cranberry Hibiscus foliage with its Maple leaf shaped leaves and vibrant red color make our bouquets feel like Fall. It also has a pretty flower later in the season too.
You can grow Cranberry Hibiscus from seed. In fact, it often self-sows in the market garden. I have also found that it is very easy to propagate from cuttings. Cut a piece from the top of a plant at a 45-degree angle, remove any leaves at the bottom of your stem, and place in a couple of inches of water. Within a week…
You can start Cranberry Hibiscus at the beginning of each growing season here in Zone 9b. It prefers full sun. I usually start growing it in preparation for the Fall season. That would be in August/September here. Sometimes we have it year-round although it does take a beating in the summer. It doesn’t need anything extra besides the usual compost and organic fertilizers that we give to all of our flowers. Pinch the main stem after 3 or 4 sets of leaves have grown to encourage a bushier plant. We do not have issues with any pests either!
In the Fall, we cut it in the morning or late afternoon. Sometimes it will wilt and I let it rehydrate for 24 hours or so. It always bounces right back. It has excellent vase life and eventually those stems may root for you as mentioned earlier.
Cranberry Hibiscus leaves are edible and very nutritious. Use caution though as they contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten in large quantities. Cranberry Hibiscus flowers bloom in the late fall and can be used to make tasty teas.
Watch for Cranberry Hibiscus in our bouquets this Fall. Come visit the market garden at East End to see it up close. If you are ready to add it to your garden, I might be able to share cuttings with you (sorry local gardeners only) – leave me a comment above. Please share your experience growing or eating Cranberry Hibiscus below (you can also reach me at farmgalflowers.com)! I’d love to hear about it!
“Fooding” is a term relatively new to the American culinary lexicon, located somewhere on a continuum between understanding and enjoying the food we all eat. Each month at East End, we’re going to try our luck at fooding by uncovering some essential (and perhaps little-known) facts about specific foods. As summer comes to a close, we’ll be focusing this month on one of the most common summer seasonals, Zucchini.
Hey East Enders – As many of you know Curtis Stone is in town this weekend for a 2-day workshop on Profitable Urban Farming. While we were discussing the workshop a few weeks ago Curtis turned me onto a really great podcast and its associated conference that I want so share with you.
The podcast and blog of Permaculture Voices is an excellent online repository of conversations with the real thought leaders in permaculture, good food and the sustainable farming movements.
I had a chat recently with Diego Footer the founder of Permaculture Voice and it was like discovering a brother from another mother. Diego and his community are singing from the same sheet music we are here in Central Florida. From promoting the environmentally friendly practices of food forestry to espousing social entrepreneurship, Diego is a real world changer.
I’ll be heading out to this year’s conference in San Diego March 4-8th. Check out all the goodness you can expect if you’re thinking of taking a trek out there.
As there is quite an expense to fly out there and book accommodations from the east coast, Diego has offered deeply discounted and even free tickets for folks in our network that are interested in attending. If you might be interested in this offer you can e-mail me through the about page on our site and I can get you connected with Diego.
January 28th – Feb 1st, Gainesville and Orlando, FL
It is with great pleasure that I announce: We are bringing Urban Farmer, Curtis Stone, to Gainesville and Orlando, Jan 28th – Feb 1st all the way from Kelowna, British Columbia. LOL – let me be honest, it wasn’t too hard to convince him to leave freezing temperatures to spend a little time with us in the Sunshine State.
As our friend and fellow farmer Matthew Raiford says, “There are no rockstar chefs without rockstar farmers” and Curtis Stone is about as rockstar a farmer as you’re ever going to meet!
Curtis has been profitably farming small urban lots in his city for the past 5 years. His Green City Acres commercial farming venture generates over $50,000 a year on just a quarter acre of land. Like me, Curtis had no growing experience before he broke ground on his venture and after five years and more than 10,000 hours of farming, he’s got a profitable system dialed in and he is ready to share his hard-won knowledge with us.
The tour starts in Gainesville the 28th and 29th of January.
Farming in the City (FREE) – Wednesday the 28th from 6-8pm (Tickets)
Profitable Urban Farming ($75) – Thursday the 29th from 9am – 5pm (Tickets)
Farming in the City: Wednesday the 28th from 6-8pm (Tickets) In this FREE lecture, Curtis will give you a virtual tour of his urban farming operation in Kelowna, BC and describe how, despite having no previous experience and only a shoestring budget, he turned a profit of more than $20,000 his first year and double that profit every year since. Who is this workshop for? Are you ag-curious? Interested in getting started in urban agriculture? Want to see how Curtis started with no experience and built his farming venture in to a profitable and flexible lifestyle? Then this lecture is for you.
Profitable Urban Farming: Thursday, January 29th from 9am – 5pm (Tickets) This is a $75 full-day urban farming workshop.
Curtis will go in-depth about the strategic production techniques he uses which focus on high value crops with short growth cycles as well as service specialized and niche market streams such as restaurants, and cooperative CSA’s. He will share the tools and technology you can use to better manage your business to save you time and money! Who is this workshop for?: Someone who wants to go into an urban food production business. This workshop is about serious, high production urban farming and focuses on the business of urban farming – specifically how to produce high value crops and how to sell them. This isn’t a “how to garden” workshop. This is a how to garden bio-intensively and profitably so you can make a living doing it workshop.
The tour wraps up at East End Market, Orlando Jan 31st – Feb 1st..
Profitable Urban Farming – Part 1 (tickets)– Saturday the 31st from 9am – 5pm
Profitable Urban Farming – Part 2 – Sunday the 1st from 9am – 5pm
Profitable Urban Farming (2-days): This is a $195 two-day intensive urban farming workshop. Friends, let me tell you this workshop is absolutely “not to be missed!” I personally guarantee that this workshop will ROCK your world. I invite you to accelerate your path toward profitable urban farming. Curtis will help you shave two to three years off your learning curve by sharing the mistakes he made, and get you off to a strong start now, making a great living doing something you love! Who is this workshop for?: Like the Gainesville workshop, but much more in-depth, this is about serious, high production urban farming and focuses on the business of urban farming – specifically how to produce high value crops and how to sell them. This isn’t a how to garden workshop. This is a how to garden bio-intensively and profitably
NOTE:Anyone who registers for the 2-day Orlando event will also receive a link to watch it live as well as access to a professionally edited recording of the workshop. SO….even if you can’t join us in person, we’d love to have you join us via purchasing a virtual ticket!
Here is a breakdown of what you can expect at this kick-ass event.
This two-day workshop runs from 9am to 5pm each day. There are two 15 minute breaks at 10:15am and 3pm, and an hour lunch break at 12:30pm.