Wet grounds don't dampen spirit of self-taught florist
What started as a personal flower garden is now blossoming into a full-grown business career. "I've always loved flowers," said Shayna Schreiber of Split Creek Farm Florals.
"Two years ago I decided that I wanted a big cut garden, so I started looking through flowers to pick which ones I wanted to grow.” "I realized that I loved so many of them, and I also realized with the amount that I wanted to plant that there would be no way that I could put that many blooms in a vase on my kitchen table."
So Shayna, a 2008 Minneota graduate, went on Pinterest to get some ideas on flower stands. "That pointed me towards information about flower farms," she told.
"The more I read about them, the more I wanted to do it. It kinda 'grew' from there." Shayna then began doing a lot of research to educate herself about various flowers and how to grow them. "You read, and read, and read, and then you read some more," she expressed.
"There is so much information as every plant has different requirement.”
"Different plants require different things in how and when they are grown and harvested.
Last summer, we learned a lot by growing flowers. This year, we learned even more. I'm sure next year we'll be learning something new, as well."
Like her husband Chris has had to endure on their 11-acre Split Creek farm site 1 1/2 miles southeast of Taunton with the wet weather this spring and summer, so too has Shayna with her flower business.
"This spring definitely came with its challenges," Shayna said. "Like much of the area, and the Midwest for that matter, spring planting did not start on time. "With the amount of rain we received, paired with the cooler temperatures that refused to warm up, we just couldn't get anything started."
The Schreiber family -- which also includes daughters Nevaeh, 7; Addilyn, 4; Amyah, 1; and a baby boy due in November -- raise cattle, as well as corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa on their farm they purchased from Chris's parents 10 years ago. Split Creek Farm is named for a tiny creek that splits up the Schreiber's farmland.
"Flower farms try to grow as much in a little space as possible because everything is planted, weeded and picked by hand," said Shayna. "It's a small area; something like 1/8th of an acre, if that. And we grow our flowers without the use of chemicals."
The Split Creek flowers are grown in either 6x6, 9x9, 12x12 or 18x18 inch spacing. "In that area, we have about 1,600 plants," Shayna noted. But like the farm's crops, Shayna's garden had to also be in a holding pattern this season. "We weren't able to get everything in this year," she said.
"We just finished up planting cover crops a couple of weeks ago.” "The same as many area farmers, my husband ran all hours to get as much done as possible. Thankfully, his dad helped him out a lot. This spring hasn't been the easiest with flowers either." Flowers and foliage need the ground temperature to be at least 60 degrees and it didn't reach that mark in this area until late in the growing season. "The ground was also way too wet," Shayna said. "Our flowers are usually started in trays with some starting in February. Normally, we plant-out in mid May, so we plant the seeds inside to be ready for transplant around that time."
This year, though, Shayna wasn't able to transplant her flowers until mid-June, eliminating valuable growing time. "That left a lot of our flowers stressed from being in the trays for much longer than they should have been," she explained.
"We weren't able to get much in for the seeds that needed to be direct sown because by the time the ground became fit, it was already too late in the year to plant them." The plants that were able to be transplanted are approximately a month behind the usual date.
"Dahlias are one of our bigger crops, and we lost some of our tubers due to them rotting in the wet ground from the continuous rain," Shayna said.
"Most dahlia varieties take a long time to bloom and they are mostly considered a fall flower. At one point, we had to put them in the ground and hope for the best in order to get them to bloom before the first frost."
Split Creek had an abundance of flowers in 2018 compared to this year.
"You can't fight Mother Nature; you'll never win," Shayna remarked. "You just have to accept what she brings and try your best to work with it." Shayna has become proficient about flowers in a short period of time.
“We spent last summer learning about the flowers, so this year we could share what we grew," said Shayna.
"It's a lot of work since everything is done by hand, and 1,600 plants demand your attention. But it's been so fun when everything starts coming into bloom."
When the flowers are all in bloom and the weather is cooperating, Split Creek boats an assortment of flowers and foliage. "Almost too many to name," said Shayna.
"Our cut flowers are mostly made up of annuals. Some of our cut flowers include zinnias, celosia and basil.”
"We also have dahlias, snapdragons, sweet peas, sunflowers, pincushions, strawflower, forget-me-not, cress, amaranth, and tickseed to name a few. We will also have ornamental pumpkins this fall."
There are also some unique things growing in the Split Creek garden. "Strawflower is really different as their petals feel like paper," said Shayna.
"Our basil has beautiful purple foliage and has a similar scent as regular basil, but you wouldn't cook with this variety.”
"A flower I'm really excited about this year is one of our sunflower varieties that is purple. We have the traditional yellow sunflower, but this year we wanted to add something new and different into the mix." Even though the weather had taken a toll on the flowers, Split Creek has been able to deliver some bouquets and arrangements in mini vases to The Arched Door in Minneota to sell.
"As of right now, we currently only sell our flowers at The Arched Door," said Shayna. "Mother Nature kind of changed our plans a little this year. We probably won't be accepting any orders until late summer.”
“With living on a working farm, we aren't a 'U-Pick' farm. My husband also has his own farm repair shop here and there are always cars, tractors and other farm equipment coming and going. We also have the daily and season needs of running a crop/cattle farm, so it's a pretty busy place already."
Because of that, Split Creek does a limited number of events, such as weddings and funerals. "We want to make sure we also have enough time to spend with our kids," said Shayna.
"The years are going by fast and our girls are growing so quickly that we want to make sure that the already short Minnesota summers aren't just about the farm."