That Time the Deer Ate All the Flowers

cut flower ranunculus

Here in central Pennsylvania the flower season is ramping up; seeds are started, plants are planted and buckets are slowly filling with flowers. And since I'm starting to see the first fruits of our labors, I think I'm finally ready to talk about the first major failure of the year: the time the deer ate two-thousand dollars worth of flowers.

Yes, you heard that right. The deer mowed down two rows of ranunculus last month, just as they were starting to bloom. I'm talking two 100-foot rows of gorgeous blooms just boom, gone. Cue the tears.
To make matters worse, this was completely due to a gigantic miscommunication on my part. See, these ranunculus are under tunnels. We plant them in the fall, the tunnel goes up and we baby them through the winter, opening the tunnels on warm days and closing them up when it's cold. In March, the days are starting to get warmer and warmer meaning the tunnels spend more time partially opened than closed.
So the tunnels were open the day before we left for a week-long trip in March. Looking at the chilly forecast, I decided to close up the tunnels while we're gone. I mad the decision, but since I was busy packing the entire family for the trip I asked a very handsome man who lives in my house (who shall go unnamed) to please 'put the tunnels down'. He heard 'put the tunnels down' as take them off, while I meant 'put the tunnels down' aka close them up. It was dark when he went out to 'put the tunnels down' and we left for the airport before sunrise so I never did see the tunnels, or lack thereof. We realized our miscommunication about 4 days into our trip to sunny Flordia. The rest is history. I assume the deer enjoyed the ranunculus becuase they didn't leave one plant for me to mourn on my return. Oh yeah, they hit the anemones, too. An estimated $2k in revenue, gone. Tears were shed.
Anyway, I can tell you this story now without tears because our spring-planted ranunculus somehow avoided the fate that befell the fall-planted rows and seeing them begin to bloom renews my hope.
I also share this story to show you that even in the fifth year of flower farming, things can and will go wrong. Every single year is full of wins and lots of fails, too.
Whether this is your first season growing flowers or tenth, I want you to know that you're in for a wild ride but you're not alone. There's a whole tribe of us flower-loving, risk-taking gardeners and we're constantly growing, constantly learning. It won't go right all the time, but it won't go wrong all the time either. I encourage you to look for the beauty in the season, even on the tough days. 
Growing flowers is not for the faint of heart. But man, are they worth it! 
ranunculus flower farmer


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