Looking back on 2022 it is incredible to think how much was achieved at Courtney's Gardens. It was a season of much growth (pun intended) mentally and physically with many highlights and learning experiences.
Before I go any further reflecting on the specifics of the season I would like to mention how grateful I am. The support I have received from the amazing community of Quinte West has blown me away. None of the successes I had this year could have been done without you. Also to my incredible friends and family helping me achieve the goals I set for the year - thank you.
Goals set for 2022
Sell my bouquets in one local business
Sell bouquet subscriptions (6 month or 4 week)
Set up a irrigation system and use landscape fabric to better withstand periods of drought
Feed the soil and use regenerative practices
Expand the garden
Build a greenhouse or season extender
Learn about compost and get nerdy about it
Learn more about floral design
Show up consistently on social media to grow my brand and tell my story
I will discuss each goal to reflect on the year and to give focus on what I should continue to work on in 2023.
1. Sell my bouquets in one local business
This year I really wanted to expand my sales channels beyond subscriptions and direct sales. I chose to contact a business I really admired to see if they would carry my bouquets. I reached out in April when tulips were beginning to pop up. My goal was from that point on be able to bring bouquets to their storefront every week until frost, my idea was consistency is key. Having my bouquets at this store made my flowers and products visible to new customers and other business owners. Shortly after I started supplying that business with my cut flower bouquets I had a nearby business reach out asking to carry my bouquets as well! So my goal of selling in one business doubled to two businesses. I could not have been more thrilled! Both businesses were amazing to work with throughout the year and it made my business more visible to my community.
2. Sell bouquet subscriptions (6 Month or 4 Week)
I did sell a handful of subscriptions for 2022. I had a manageable amount that I felt I could sustain with both store sales, weddings, and direct purchases. There is still tons of room for growth in this sales channel that I look to improve for each year. I believe in this service as such a great way to treat yourself or a loved one to fresh cut flowers.
3. Set up a irrigation system and use landscape fabric to better withstand periods of drought
This was a huge game changer this season. I finally made the dive and set up the drip tape and irrigation tubes shortly after I planted my whole garden. Luckily spring and early summer had enough rainfall it gave my spouse enough time to get my pump house set up. Once the period of drought began this was set up and so helpful! When I hand watered my garden it would take nearly 3 hours. With the pump and drip lines it took 45 minutes! Plus using drip tape reduces water evaporation and waste so I knew my plants were getting a much better drink. I will write a blog post explaining how we set up our drip irrigation that is independent of our house or barn water supply!
4. Feed the soil and use regenerative practices
This goal is important to me in so many ways. The soil is what makes this business possible to grow the most beautiful and healthy flowers for my clients. So after doing some research I found a fertilizer that is organic and feeds the soil and the plants gently. I also added 4inches of compost to each bed at the beginning of the season and the end of the season. My compost is sourced from a local mushroom farm that is organic and free as long as you load it yourself! This is an area I am looking to continue to learn about. There are so many more resources coming out to continuously learn from.
5. Expand the garden
I added 2 more 50 foot in ground beds. I was considering adding more but the space I worked with in 2022 (8 x 50ft beds) seemed to be too much at the peak of the season for my one person business. I also felt like I had not utilized my current space the most efficiently. So I added only 2 more beds and plan to use my space more proficiently. In the coming years if I hire some help I would have no hesitation expanding the garden much more.
6. Build a greenhouse or season extender
This may have been my highlight of the year! I finally got a greenhouse. It is a 10x15ft wooden frame greenhouse with raised beds, electricity, and grow lights. It was installed by an amazing company based out of Quebec ( UrbanGreenhouse.ca ). I can not say enough great things about this structure. It even survived 110km/h winds in the Christmas blizzard of 2022. After it was installed I planted it with crops to feed my spouse and I over the winter. As I am writing this in January I still have tons of beets, carrots, kale, and lettuce I can harvest. Then in the late winter/early spring we are going to retrofit it to house thousands of seedlings! I cannot wait to have that space for the 2023 season.
7. Learn about compost and get nerdy about it
This goal took a back seat this year. I did not read any books or put any effort into my compost bins and piles beyond not adding diseased or bug infested plant material. I did put more browns in the piles in comparison to previous years. But this goal is one that will be carried over to 2023 to expand my knowledge on. I purchased a book all about compost and my goal is to read it cover to cover this winter before the growing season begins.
8. Learn more about floral design
I had signed up for an online subscription service giving me access to a ton of resources to expand my knowledge on floral design. I used it a handful of times throughout the season to refresh my knowledge or expand what I know when trying something new. I did not use the source as much as I had hoped and will be ending the subscription in February. Having this deadline makes me use the resource as much as I can in January.
9. Show up consistently on social media to grow my brand and tell my story
I had shown up on Instagram more in 2022 than previous years. I still feel there is tons of room for improvement and will continue this goal in 2023. I did weekly posts of photos or videos of the bouquets I was dropping off to the stores. I would like to get more video content for 2023 and provide more DIY resources alongside my products.
Overall I am very happy with my 2022 season. It was full of great learning experiences helping me grow as a flower farmer and business woman. I have so many lessons from 2022 that I am very grateful for. Taking this time to look back at last year has given me lots of ideas and direction for what I would like my business to achieve in 2023. Stay tuned for my 2023 goals - It is bound to be an amazing and beautiful year!