Springtime is probably my favorite season at the farm. The cool weather as we harvest buckets and buckets of beautiful blooms. Ranunculus, Anemones, Snapdragons, Daffodils, Godetia, Sweet Peas (I can smell them already), Tulips, Lilies, Butterfly Ranunculus just to name a few! It makes me excited even thinking about it! But anemones are amazing because of their incredible stem length and vase life. The past few seasons we have noticed that the anemones are the last to sell at the farmstand. We are pretty sure that this is because we harvest them when they are more closed. In the field when we pick we are looking for the flower to be about 1/4 of the way off the crown of the anemone and these look pretty closed. This makes them definitely less appealing to their Sping counterparts, ranunculus- a favorite by many! We pick them like this to give you the longest vase life possible out of them. Within a few days of you bringing these gorgeous flowers home, they bloom right before your eyes! Their papery and airy feel makes them stunners without any help. They come in a range of colors but some of our favorites are the Bordeaux (dark burgundy) and the classic Panda anemones (white with dark centers).
Anemones can be planted two ways and we have experimented with both. They come from the supplier as shriveled up corms waiting for you to breathe life into them. When we receive them, they are in small paper bags with the variety tag stapled onto it. When we are ready to wake them up they get put into a bath (normally a bucket) and we fill it up with water and let them soak. Depending on the corm size we soak them about 2-4 hours. We leave the water on just slightly to allow them to "breathe" meaning, it allows the water to oxygenate. Some people say this step is crucial- we have done it to some and not to others and honestly haven't noticed a difference. After you soak them for the proper amount of time we dump out the water and and we will plant them the next morning. Planting them straight into the ground is perfectly fine, we have had great success with this method and honesty its the least labor intensive- it doesn't require the extra steps that Im going to talk about next. We have had great germination rates by simply soaking them and popping them into the ground.
But some farmers swear by pre-sprouting them in bulb crates or cell trays. We tried this method this year simply because our field rows weren't quite ready for us to plant into them. Had we not done this we would have been behind in the whole process, so we took the extra step of pre-sprouting them. The whole first part of the process is the same- put them in mesh bag, soak them in buckets for a few hours, but then when you take them out we put them in cell trays like the photo below. We fill up the cell tray halfway with potting soil and pop in one anemone per cell. Then we cover them with dirt to the top and transfer them to our cooler for a few weeks. They will begin to create roots and then we plant them out in the field- 6 inches apart. We aim to plant them each year by mid-October and we will normally see the first (shorty) bloom mid- January. As the season goes on the stems get longer and longer. They continue to produce more and more blooms until early to mid-April. During the early season we put them in little bud vases and enjoy them for ourself before the season officially begins.
The key though for the success of spring flowers in general (anemones are no exception) is fall planting- especially in a Climate Zone like California's. Anemones do not like the heat, and with California's normally mild winter and spring climate- hot spring days can make the anemones think they need to go dormant.
Harvesting and Post Harvest Treatment:
Anemones, if picked at the proper stage, should last a good 7 days. We pick them when they are a 1/4 of the way off the crown (the crown is the green leafing around the flower.) Anemones continue to grow after they are picked so the longer the stem is off the crown the older the flower is. If we come across any of those then we know to discard them because they don't meet our standard of freshness. We notice that our flowers last the longest when the water is changed daily and if after a few days you give the stems a fresh cut.
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