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Help! I’m Behind: 10 Ways to Get Ahead of Feeling Behind

The dreaded feeling of being behind. It seems like everyone around you is swimming in flowers and you’re kicking yourself for not planting earlier. Maybe you only just learned how long some flowers take to grow or perhaps you had a solid plan but good old life happened.

One of the toughest things about farming is how easy it is to feel or fall behind, because there are so many factors that are beyond our control. If you’re feeling behind, I want you to know that you’re not alone. It’s one of the most common comments I receive and I don’t know that I’ve ever had a season where I did not feel behind on something. My unsolicited two cents is not to dwell on it, because there are absolutely things you can do!

Here are 10 ways to get ahead of feeling behind.

First, How Behind Are You, Really?

No honestly, before you go any further: Why do you feel behind? Really think about this.

Are you looking at social media and seeing other folks with loads of blooms? I’m sure this goes without saying, but pretty feeds are only part of the picture. A person with armloads of flowers might be in an entirely different growing zone than you. They also could be posting photos or videos from a prior season to build hype for their upcoming one. You might not be behind at all for your climate!

If possible, look back at prior years to see where you were at. I find my phone’s camera roll and my own social media to be a great tool for this. Maybe you’re slightly behind, but maybe you’re growing a lot more this season! Maybe that put you slightly behind, but you’ll have so much more to offer.

OK, so let’s say you’re like: No, but Maggie, I am actually behind. I literally sowed one tray and it died. That’s totally OK! I have fallen behind more times than I can count. Somehow, though, there are still beautiful flowers. Re-review your sowing plan and see if there are still possible successions for your climate.

If you haven’t already, check out our Seed Sowing and Planning Spreadsheet. If you didn’t make a plan, just look at mine. All you have to do is change the first and lost frost dates to match your own, and you can see what options are still possible for you to grow! And keep on reading.

Fast-growing sunflower Procut White Lite
Fast-growing Gyp can be direct sown
Market Bouquet with fast-growing sunflowers, gypsophila, cress, perennial ninebark
Sunflower Procut Gold Lite

1. Sow Fast-Growing Seeds

Whether you direct sow or start in trays, sow some fast-growing seeds! Some of my favorites are single-stem sunflowers, zinnias, gypsophila, cress, cosmos, celosia, amaranth, phlox, grasses. You could direct sow some single-stem sunflowers, cress, and gypsophila and have flowers for market bouquets in 55 to 60 days.

Once again, the Seed Sowing and Planning Spreadsheet is your friend here. You can review my example tab to see general Days to Maturity. Filter that column A–Z and you can see some of the fastest growing flowers!

2. Purchase Plugs or Seedlings

If you missed your window to plant certain varieties, consider ordering in plugs! Farmer Bailey has Flash Sales every Friday with plugs that are immediately available to ship to you. Review their information page on how it works. There quality is top notch and you’ll have flowers in no time. There also may be local nurseries that can offer something similar.

3. Forage

If you’re low on flowers, you might be surprised what you find growing all around you! This will entirely depend on your location, and I wouldn’t suggest doing this for all of your flowers, but it can work in a pinch. Be sure to research so that you are foraging ethically and safely. On our farm, there are really beautiful botanicals that grow here wildly. Some include yarrow, cress, interesting grasses, berry brambles, flowering fruit trees, willows, silene, sweet rocket, daisies, monarda, honeysuckle, Queen Anne’s Lace, and more!

Wild Cress
Wild Cress
In this purple mason jar, the Monarda was foraged and the phlox was a volunteer
The base of this arrangement is all wild berry brambles

4. Don’t Weed

OK, don’t laugh, but I kind of mean it. Once you start growing flowers for a few seasons, you’ll be surprised how many volunteer plants pop up! We often have volunteer sunflowers, nicotiana, zinnias, cosmos, phlox, love-in-a-puff vine, cress, and more.

5. Plant Perennials, Biennials, and Wildflowers for Future Seasons

Plant perennials and biennials now! Like right now. They have saved my butt so many times. You’re future self will thank you. Research which ones do well in your area, but some of my favorites are peonies, viburnum, ninebark, spirea, roses, delphinium, foxglove.

Another fun option is to plant wildflower seed mixes. This is not only great for the environment, but you can cut off this in a pinch in future seasons. There are grant programs that will even cover your seed. You may not get the grant this season, but you could apply for future seasons. Prairie Moon Nursery, American Meadows, and Eden Brothers have some great mixes. Be sure to research noxious weeds, so you are not planting anything invasive for your area.

6. Get Comfortable with Asking For Help

This does NOT come naturally to me, but learning to ask for help has been a game changer for me. In fact, it was my MIL who has really encouraged me to ask for help. Asking for help can look different for each of us. Perhaps someone can help you with sowing or weeding or putting down water lines. Or maybe someone can help you with the laundry or watching the kids to free up some of your time. There are so many hours in a day, and we cannot always do it all by ourselves. My mama always says, “Many hands make light work.” Creating more time by asking for help can get you ahead in a big way. And guess what? You have FLOWERS to gift to people who have helped you. Win Win 🙂

7. Purchase Flowers

If you fell behind planting, consider bringing in flowers! You can support other local growers or get connected with a wholesaler. Not only will this help you learn more about what florist experience (so you can better serve them in the future), you can bring in some really cool items. This is a great option if you have already committed to selling flowers, like for a wedding or an event. Just be transparent with your customers; at the end of the day, you’re providing them with beautiful flowers!

8. Focus on Fall

Let’s say you fell totally behind and you don’t even want to think about scrambling to make things happen. Skip it and start planning for fall! This could be either planning for a fall crop or planning for fall planting for an early spring crop next season.

Many flowers can be overwintered by starting in late summer or fall, which result in earlier (and often times better-quality) blooms when compared to spring, field-planted flowers. In the fact, the best feverfew I’ve ever grown was overwintered in our high tunnel. While much of this is dependent on your unique geographic location, there is a lot of promising data coming from Johnny’s multi-year overwintering trials.

For planning, you can use Johnny’s Seeding Date Calculator, can find for free here. In order to use the calculator, you need to know your last 10-hour day of the year. You can use a calculator like this one to determine this.

feverfew matricaria flower filler
Overwintered Feverfew

9. Hone Other Skills

If you fell behind and now have a lull in production, this is an excellent time to work on other skills. Maybe you could work on your website, copywriting, newsletter, or photography. Maybe you don’t have enough flowers to sell, but you have enough to create something beautiful. Sometimes having a minimal amount of flowers to work with can bring out the best creativity. I mean, just look at this bridal bouquet made only of cosmos (and swipe for other mono arrangements). Create something just for yourself and photograph it for your portfolio.

10. Trust in Divine Timing

Deep within my soul, I believe everything is happening for us. Even the things that seem annoying, frustrating, devastating, or hopeless. I like to think that if I fell behind, that maybe it saved me from a crop failure down the line because of pests or weather or disease. Or perhaps that flower was not meant to be in that wedding or event. Or maybe it was a lesson that my soul needed to learn. Instead of being upset about being behind, let’s focus on how this could be for us.

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