Gardening Economics

By Teresa Woodard

I recently toured a 7-acre flower farm eager to photograph fields of flowers and hear the back story of the young couple that runs the urban Columbus farm but was surprised to also walk away with lessons on the economics of flower farming and many ideas that could transfer to my own backyard.

After each growing season, Steve and Gretel Adams, owners of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, carefully evaluate their mix of flower crops.  They pour over detailed logs and ask essential questions.  Is it worth it to continue to battle the powdery mildew on their beloved sunflowers given the amount of land, labor and cooler space they require? Should they plant more specialty flowers like dahlias and lisianthus that command higher priced tickets?  Are there ways to make the newly planted woody ornamentals more productive?

Inspired, I’ve committed to make a closer study of what’s growing in my own backyard by photographing and better recording the types of seeds and plants, planting times, bloom times, fertilizers, pest management techniques, pruning demands and weather conditions.

Call me a heart-less economist now, but look out time-sucking, resource-draining plants!  If there’s no return on investment — stunning blooms, continuous flowers, beautiful foliage, sentimental ties or tasty fruits, you’re gone, especially if you’re stealing valuable real estate and resources from the star-performers in our garden.

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