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While the farmer was once responsible for simply putting food on the table, many farmers are now finding themselves in a new role as floral artists, as the market for cut flowers continues to take deeper roots, grow taller, and bloom quickly. Cut flowers are one of the most profitable “crops” per square acre than nearly any other undertaking, luring even the most macho farmers into the business. Whether you are looking to take flowers to market or simply pluck your own centerpiece from your front yard, you’ll never cease to please when including these eye-catching blossoms in your arrangements.

Zinnias (Zinnia spp.)

Zinnias are by far one of the easiest flowers to grow, and the diversity of varieties amongst zinnias are beyond plentiful. Amongst the extensive list of varieties out there, you can find this flower in nearly any color with many varieties multi-colored. These focal flowers also come in an an assortment of shapes and sizes, all with long stems most suitable for bouquet-building. Zinnias thrive in heat and can often withstand drought conditions once established. Not only do they grow quickly and require little on the side of fertilizer or amendments, most zinnias serve as “cut-and-come again” flowers, meaning you’ll only have to plant once to harvest throughout the entire season.

Dahlias (Dahlia spp.)

Dahlias are one of the most sought-after flowers by florists as these stunning blooms are often featured in weddings and serve as a darling centerpiece for any bouquet. Dahlias come in different size varieties from the medium-sized 4 inch blooms, like the Cornel or Critchon Honey varieties, to the 8 to 10 inch dinner plate varieties. The diversity of colors amongst dahlias are unmatched amongst its cut flower friends, ranging from hues of soft whites, pinks, yellows, and oranges to shades of bright red to deep maroon.

Purchase dahlias as tubers and plant them horizontally 6-8 inches deep in a moist, but not saturated soil. The bud should be facing upwards. Be sure the ground temperatures have reached at least 60 degrees before planting, often late April or early May for most places. Wait to water until the dahlias sprout above the soil surface! Stake tall varieties when planting as to not disturb the delicate tubers later on.

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)

Who doesn’t love sunflowers? Sunflowers are iconic to those good summertime-feels, supplying bright color to a home garden or to a market bouquet. There are two main types of sunflowers that are actually quite different from one another. Single-stem varieties, such as the Sunrich or the ProCut series, will produce one flower for each planted seed. Single-stemmed sunflowers have long, sturdy stems and come to bloom quickly, often about 60 days. Spacing between single-stemmed varieties will determine the bloom size; the more room for each plant, the larger the bloom.

Single-stemmed varieties are pollenless, prized for their durability in bouquets. For a steady flow of flowers throughout the season, you will need to succession plant these sunflowers about every two weeks. Branching varieties, on the other hand, will bloom multiple times throughout the season from a single plant. The stems are shorter, and each plant will need a considerable amount of space, blooming typically around 90 days. Branching varieties can make a great addition to a home garden for an endless supply of blooms throughout the summer. Whether you choose to grow single-stemmed or branching sunflowers, these resilient flowers will last up to 10 days in a vase.

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How To Fix That Funky “Farmer’s Tan”

When you are out in the sun all day, you might end up with a tan on one arm and not the other, around the neck and shoulders leaving unwanted t-shirt lines, or in any way that looks (quite frankly) unsightly. And you probably think it will stay that way forever. Most people will just get out of the sun and stay indoors, but that isn’t a solution for you. Lucky, there are plenty of ways to get rid of that old farmers’ tan.

Exfoliate Daily

The natural method of removing a tan is to exfoliate on a daily basis. This removes layers of dead skin cells to reveal new skin that isn’t as tanned. There are a number of ways that you can exfoliate your skin. You can choose to do it physically with a loofah or using a gentle wash that scrubs away layers.

However, once you get rid of old layers, you should remember to be more careful when going out in the sun again i.e. protect it with sunblock, long sleeves or cut down on afternoon gardening. This is because your skin is very sensitive at this point, making it highly susceptible to sun damage.

Prepare a Natural Lightening Serum

Using all-natural ingredients like rose water, cucumber, and lemon juice, you can prepare a serum to reduce your tan over time. It will take some time to work, but you’ll be impressed with the results. Mix equal parts of cucumber extract, lemon juice and rose water in a bowl and add to a bottle if you want to prepare a batch.

Apply it generously to the affected area but make sure to keep the remaining mixture in the fridge and not to store it for longer than a few days. Also, apply it once you are indoors but not before you step outside for gardening, since lemon can irritate your skin when you are exposed to sunlight.

Use Aloe

Aloe is an effective remedy for soothing the skin and reducing your tan. Instead of chemical-based aloe vera gels, I recommend using the real thing, which shouldn’t be difficult to do, considering that we’re all farmers here. Aloe plants are easy to keep and maintain at home so it won’t be hard to replenish and hydrate your skin after a day on the farm.

Cut small pieces of aloe and remove the skin to expose the inner gel. Use this gel on the parts of your body that have a tan, and repeat it as part of a self-care routine daily. Not only will you have an evened out skin tone, but your skin will look better, compared to how rough it can get when you’re farming every day.

I know these remedies are pretty basic and while there are plenty of other ways, I rely on the above-mentioned methods because it doesn’t take up a lot of energy or time to do. Once you’ve successfully gotten rid of your tan, remember to lessen sun exposure by wearing breathable sleeves on your arms, a hat, gloves and sun block for your face.


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