Plant share supports Family Resource Center

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Friendship Flower Farm proprietor Holly Dickson encourages gardeners to share seedlings and divided perennials and houseplants at a fundraising event for the GMHC Family Resource Center on May 11, from 9 a.m. - noon at the Guttenberg Farmer's Market. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Horticulture professionals who grow local produce and flowers for Farmer's Markets often mark the second Saturday in May to set aside a portion of their Farmer's Market plant sales to benefit a local charity in their community. 

Plants for sale

Holly Dickson, Friendship Flower Farm proprietor of Guttenberg, and Family Resource Center Coordinator Kari Harbaugh are organizing a similar event to be held on Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. - noon with proceeds going to the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinic's Family Resource Center (FRC) located at 514 South River Park Drive in Guttenberg. Proceeds from the plant sale will be used for discretionary spending. 

Dickson and Harbaugh encourage anyone who would like to divide up their Christmas cactus, dig up and split perennials, or have extra annual vegetable and flower seedlings to bring it to the Farmer's Market on that day to share with other plant enthusiasts and pick up a species they may not have. Set-up will begin, rain or shine, at 8 a.m. where the Farmer’s Market is located on River Park Drive. 

"The idea is to share and check out something to buy without having to commit to Farmer’s Market parameters," Dickson told The Press.  "When I shared this concept with Kari Harbaugh, FRC director, she was thrilled. We put our heads together and in nine minutes we had solidified the outline, dates, times, tables, tents, volunteers and pin-up posters!"

Houseplants and perennials 

Dickson has asked for plant donations from some of the local growers.  But what she would really like to see is community members dividing their perennials, ferns, and ivy plants to donate. "When dividing large perennials knock off as much soil as possible without compromising the root ball," she explained. "Inspect the soil for beetles or grubs and remove them. Put the plant into a bucket or plastic bag to retain moisture until it can be re-homed." Organizers suggest if you know the plant's common name and how big it will get, or its bloom time and color, that would be helpful information to include. "A bonus, is if there is a story that goes with the plant – that is really the best part of sharing," she added. 

Cane cuttings and tubers

Dickson recommended if you have willows, hydrangea, lilac, or ninebark to share simply cut several branches early in the spring and stick in sand with at least one leaf node showing above the sand line. "Indoor house plants benefit from dividing occasionally," she noted. "We would love to have some of those splits. If you have overwintered dahlia tubers, those would be perfect to donate!"

Annual herbs and vegetables 

Dickson is requesting when gardeners start their seeds for their warm season annual herb and vegetable crops they seed out a few extra peppers, tomatoes, and basil plants to drop off for sale at the vegetable table. "Successful growers know the key to getting vegetable crops going is providing the right growing conditions – soil, light, and water," she noted.

Propagating seedlings

Dickson recommends using a seed-starting medium, pointing out that regular topsoil or potting soil can be difficult for tender seedlings to push their fine first roots through.

She offered further advice about using the correct light source and watering method to prevent seedlings from getting leggy. "Once seeds germinate place the containers under a bright light that can be on for at least 12 hours a day," said Dickson. "Too much water can drown small seedlings so after the initial watering in provide moisture via humidity. This can be achieved by adding a dome over the seedbed. Think of the container that rotisserie chicken comes in. It even has vent holes!" 

Once the seedlings are advanced they can be potted up with potting soil into a larger container. She suggests using a yogurt cup or cottage cheese container or used pots from garden centers. 

She requests plants be marked for identification.
"This may seem funny but what I have found to work best is an out-of-service mini-blind. I cut the blind louvers into 6-inch strips and mark the information with a good old number 2 pencil then pop it into the container. The info doesn’t wash off or fade in the field," she advised. 

Tables will be set up and marked for houseplants, garden perennials, etc. "Bring your labeled flowers, vegetables, woodies, etc. and some cash to trade on the morning of May 11 to support our local Family Resource Center," she concluded. 

Additional information

For additional information or if you would like to sponsor a Farmer's Market plant table the day of the event or make a cash donation to the Family Resource Center contact Friendship Flower Farm at, or the Family Resource Center at 563-252-3215.

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