On Tuesday, July 13th, Emily and I went to the Bloomingfields Farm Daylily Nursery for a CRAFT meeting hosted by the owner/farmer Melvin “Mel” Lee Bristol. Mel took us on a tour of the farm and gave us background of the farm’s history. This is Emily’s second CRAFT meeting, and this was my first!
Bloomingfields Farm is currently raising 250 varieties of daylilies. Mel demonstrated for the apprenti how to properly propagate and plant daylilies. One neat thing we learned is that in order to *propagate, you have to first cut off all the flowers and leaf stalks, leaving about 4″ of the stalks before dividing up the flower roots for planting. In order to prevent mold growth, peat moss is a good antiseptic to rub on plants that are still slightly wet. Mel does this if plants are still moist when he is sending them out to customers. The daylily plant multiplies slowly; it takes 2-3 years for a daylily to become large enough to sell.
April is the planting month for daylillies. During the winter months Mel divides and replants the flowers, usually doing 75-100 plants a week. As a farmer, you must be very organized; Mel makes sure each customer gets the plant on the day he tells them, and he hasn’t missed one day yet!After learning about the lifecycle of a daylily, Mel also showed us how to use the different rototillers. Rototillers are a versatile tool that can be used to help prepare the soil before planting seeds and also to help remove weeds. As a first-time farm apprentice, I was impressed to see so many different rototillers!
Afterwards, all the Apprenti gathered for a potluck dinner in a lovely garden behind the house where Mel’s wife, Diana, had planted many wonderful herbs and flowers. At the potluck we had a chance to learn about each other and where each apprentice works. It also gave me a chance to learn more about Mel’s diverse background of study and travel abroad, which ranged from studying in the Himalayas and India, to working at the arbortoriums in the Hawaiian and Samoan islands. Overall, I enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in CRAFT, and I am excited to continue learning about the livelihood and passion of other farmers!
* prop·a·gate/ˈpräpəˌgāt/ (dictionary.com)
1. Breed specimens of (a plant, animal, etc.) by natural processes from the parent stock.
2. (of a plant, animal, etc.) Reproduce in such a way: “the plant propagates from stem cuttings”