Flower Adventure & The Festival of Broken Needles
February 8th is always a day I look forward to in winter. It’s known in Japan as Hari-Kuyō or Festival of Broken Needles, and I like to set aside time to celebrate it each year. Wikipedia says of the holiday “It is celebrated by women in Japan as a memorial to all the sewing needles broken in their service during the past year, and as an opportunity to pray for improved skills. Hari-Kuyō began four hundred years ago as a way for housekeepers and professional needle-workers to acknowledge their work over the past years and respect their tools. In the animist traditions, items as well as humans, animals, plants, and objects are considered to have souls. This festival acknowledged the good given to people by their tools. Practitioners went to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to thank their broken needles for their help and service. This is in keeping with the philosophy of "not wasting" or "paying honor to the small things" exemplified in the concept of mottainai.”
I like to create a small altar of offerings for, not only my broken needles saved from the previous year, but also other artistic tools I use regularly as well. It’s a day to lay them all out, give thanks for all they allow me to create, and then hope for wonderful new things to sprout forth with their efforts.
This year, I’ll include a small trowel on the altar and perhaps some garden gloves, as we’re beginning a new adventure into flower farming. I’ve always been interesting in plants, aesthetically, medicinally, and artistically for the last 10 years. Flower farming is the next realm I’d like to explore in my evolution as an artist and believer in the healing power of nature. I’ll be doing a trial run of farming flowers at our apartment this year, while continuing to research the whole process and getting hands on experience.
Back in November, over 250 bulbs went into my 3 small beds (a little over ¼ of an acre) and have already begun to poke their heads up. They include some of my favorites, anemones, fragrant double daffodils, and also some I’ve never grown before such as double tulips! I’m excited to see how they fared the winter (and terrified they won’t come up).
Needless to say, this year will be a huge learning curve as we try out succession planting for the first time and high yield intensity planting that we’ve been learning from books and flower farming blogs. I hope to supplement all of this with a small internship on a local farm later this year. I’m sure things will go wrong in ways I never thought possible, but I’m hoping they’ll go right in ways I never dreamed of as well. Being with plants and offering them to others seems like the next step in my evolution as an artist and person who wants to own their own business.
The first step in starting the trial was spending time last fall determining how to lay out the beds and schedule the planting times so that there will be a continual rolling bloom of flowers and not just one big bloom all at once. This is the art of succession planting and hopefully, if I’ve planned it all out correctly, we’ll have cut flowers to sell all spring, summer, and fall.
The next step was to get the annuals ready for sowing after the last frost. This required putting together a seed light structure to germinate the plants early to maximize our growing season. Simple wire shelving and shop lights with fluorescent bulbs in a warm corner was all we needed. Two tiers of 4ft shelving can yield us more than enough plants for the entire growing season.
There are so many new seed varieties that I’m trying out this year. I’m especially excited about the China Asters and Green Zinnias!
My plan is to continue writing blog posts to share our experiences in this flower adventure so everyone can follow along. We also hope to have flowers coming out our ears this year. I want to organize a flower CSA for friends and family in the Seattle- Everett area.
So join us this year, support our venture, and here’s to the unfolding of being!