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Support your Sacramento-area flower farmers


This arranged bouquet was made by Amanda Kitaura of Bloom. Kitaura has
a micro-farm at her Pocket/Greenhaven home.
(Photo courtesy of Bloom)

Sacramento Valley Flower Collective features locally grown blooms



Want a farm-fresh bouquet? Buy local.

Finding locally sourced flowers in the Sacramento area is relatively easy. Growers are all around us. They may even be neighbors.

This is American Flowers Week, a celebration of flower farmers and their beautiful crop.

Locally, several flower farmers have banded together to create the Sacramento Valley Flower Collective (
http://sacramentovalleyflowercollective.com ). Farms of all sizes are part of this group dedicated to bringing flowers from field to vase in the Farm-to-Fork Capital.

The collective lists growers, wholesalers and florists who sell locally sourced blooms and greens. There are suggestions for wedding and event planners looking for garden roses, lilies, sunflowers or other local, seasonal flowers.

Some members, such as Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley, grow produce as their primary crop with flowers on the side. Others, such as Happy Road Farm in Loomis,  are small, family-run operations, dedicated to heirloom and unique flowers.

Amanda Kitaura of Bloom has a micro-farm – started in her Sacramento backyard. She grows prized dahlias and other old-fashioned favorites in planter beds at her Pocket/Greenhaven home. She also enlisted backyard space from friends and relatives.

“I have a suburban farm,” explained Kitaura, a former speech therapist. “I grow at four homes. We’re small; I don’t have acres and acres. … It’s small space but high density, as much as I can fit.”

Kitaura concentrates on growing her own filler flowers that add distinct personality to her bouquets. “Good filler is harder to find,” she noted.

A Sacramento Valley Flower Collective member, Kitaura sells her flowers online at www.bloomsubscription.com . Subscribers receive fresh locally grown bouquets weekly, monthly or by special order. Prices start at $35 for a large arranged bouquet on a subscription basis; special orders start at $50.

When she needs more flowers to fill her orders, Kitaura buys them from other local flower farmers.

“There are tons of reasons to buy local flowers,” she said. “You’re supporting the local economy in your area; you’re supporting your neighbors’ hard work. Local flowers smell so much better. They’re not flown in from somewhere. They’re not chemically treated to last for weeks. They’re beautiful.”

These seasonal bouquets carry a sense of time and place as well as beauty.

Said Kitaura, “They look like they came out of someone’s garden, because they did.”

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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