Suggestions for Herbs and Dried Flowers in Nova Scotia
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Cheryl Stone
Posted on: April 19, 2003

I live in Nova Scotia, on the south western, Bay of Fundy side. My husband and I have a small farm, 20 acres of pasture, 80 of woods. We are not growing anything currently, other than hay and giving that away for the having it cut. Our pH is probably around 5.5-6.0, and the things our garden grows well is, pumpkin, squash, beans, peas, beets and broccoli. Tomatoes do all right, although the last two summers have been quite dry, so we did end up with blossom end rot from the uneven watering. I was wondering if you might be able to suggest something for us to grow, that would be either an herb (herbs) or maybe flowers for drying, or both. As of this time we don’t have irrigation, so couldn’t grow anything that is a heavy feeder. I would really appreciate a list of flowers that are grown for drying, and which ones might be suitable for our soil. I am in zone 5a.

Flowers should be no problem in your region, and adding value only adds toward your potential success in supporting your farm. As a rule, most dried flower projects and grasses will gross about $20,000/acre, mostly in labor. This can further be profitable if tools like a rice harvester are used to caulk the grains into one-pound bundles.

I’ve written several monographs on specifics for the dried floral trade. Go to my website for that (www.nwbotanicals.org). Most everlastings (like Baby’s Breath) like dry soil and harsh conditions (Strawflowers). Don’t forget the grains and grasses. My most favorite book is titled "Pods: Wildflowers and Weeds in Their Final Beauty", by Jane Embertson.

My particular favorite pod is Lunaria, a biennial that is also known as Silver Dollar plant. The Japanese like this form of pod for gifts, and the legend is that you are supposed to be given this for prosperity. It’s perfect for the Japanese gift markets. Your main problem will be how to sleeve and package the fragile pods for export.

Here are some previous grasses I’ve sold over the years, to give some basic pricing and style of sale (packaging and size of bundle)

GRASSES YARROW
(10-lb./case - solid colors) (50 bu./case - solid colors)
Bulk Pack $ 8.00/lb. No. 1 (3 stems/bu.) $ 1.50 ea
1/2-lb. bundle $ 4.25 ea No. 2 (6 stems/bu.) $ 2.00 ea
1/4-lb. bundle $ 2.50 ea 2-oz retail bundle $ 1.50 ea


Types of Grasses Readily Available: Barley, Bent, Bermuda, Broom, Bunny, Buffalo, Fescue, 4th of July, Johnson, Lace, Oats - wild, Oats - dom, Rice, Rye, Nut, Timothy, Snake, Sudan, Wheats, Hair

Once you have selected specific crops, contact me and feel free to forward samples for my grading and further suggestions. I once closed Wal-Mart for a single $3.2 million sale. This supported a community of 201 growers for more than six years. If the products are profiled correctly, some of the larger convenience stores (e.g. Target in the U.S.) offer these levels of sale. Be sure to use local forest products like mosses and lichens to add "flavor" to the sales presentation.

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