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Cut Flowers Are the Next Thing to Go “Local”

In her book, Flower Confidential, Amy Stewart reveals that three-fourths of the flowers available in grocery stores and flower shops are imported, mostly from Latin America. That’s kind of amazing to think about, especially since transportation of food between American states is deemed too environmentally detrimental to many locavores. Colombia (the second largest exporter in the world), Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kenya, and India are even farther away! And those countries are today’s major cut-flower producers.

Some people are already on the local-flower bandwagon. Tara Kolla, of Silver Lake Farms, for example. She started an organic cut-flower business on the grounds of her 1/2 acre property in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, after telling Tara that it was legal, and after she grew and sold her flowers at local farmer’s markets for six years (!!!), the city of Los Angeles decided it was illegal to grow flowers in your backyard and sell them.

If you’d like to help Tara and other small LA flower farmers, consider logging on to Urban Farming Advocates. They detail a new law that would support small farmers in LA who would like to grow flowers, fruits, and nuts for sale at farmer’s markets. You may have noticed that I did not mention anything about vegetables. That’s not an accident. It is perfectly legal to grow vegetables in your LA backyard for the purposes of selling them. But for some asinine reason, flowers, fruits, and nuts are a no-go.

In the meantime, here are four of Tara’s favorite, easy-to-grow flowers perfect for your own patio or balcony cutting garden.

  • Poppy Flowered Anemone – This charming single flower has clear reds, blues, and whites that really shine in spring. They make great companions for sweet peas.
  • Ranunculus – The super-double versions of this flower look like mini peonies, great if you live in a climate that is too warm for those finicky flowers. They come in a wide variety of deep, bright colors.
  • Sunflowers – Really easy to grow, sunflowers are as cheerful and happy as it comes. They’re also pretty expensive in flower shops, but exceedingly cheap to grow yourself.
  • Sweet Peas – Scented sweet peas are one of the most beautiful scents, bar-none. Check out Botanical Interests and Renee’s Garden, both have compact varieties perfect for tiny patios and balconies.

If you need even more inspiration, last year I wrote a series of posts about growing a containerized cutting garden. Everything from planning a cutting gardentips and tricks for success, and how to get the most out of a cutting garden. Even if you plan on focusing most of your efforts on vegetables, you still need some flowers for the dinner table, right? Don’t blow your budget or increase your carbon foot print by purchasing imports.

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