Dahlia Valley Ranch Is Growing

Lisa Nelson’s start-up business is providing fresh cut flowers to local area.

Nelson is spending a lot of time these days doing something she loves – growing fresh cut flowers and selling them at local farmer’s markets.

“I started this business because I felt there was a need for cut flowers in Arnold. I also wanted to expand on my love of growing flowers,” she said.

Lisa has always enjoyed growing flowers in her yard and really loved to garden. When she left the (Mills) hardware store, she worked part-time for a short while from home as an administrative assistant. She truly wanted to do something from home that was flexible, filled a need, and was something she really enjoyed. So, during the winter of 2021, she began ordering flower seeds and started a few indoors, and then transferred them outdoors in the spring into a small patch located at the Nelsons farm. Rural Arnold resident Lisa Nelson cuts Snapdragons – one of many types and varieties of flowers that are blooming in her high tunnel – to sell at local farmer’s markets. As the business grows, she hopes to sell to local florists. Dahlia Valley Ranch Is Growing Lisa Nelson’s start-up business is providing fresh cut flowers to local area. With this small start, her business, Dahlia Valley Ranch was born.

“I began selling a few bouquets during farmer’s markets, and they really seemed to sell well. At that time, I only had a few varieties of flowers, mostly Dahlias, Zinnias and Cosmos. I fell in love with Dahlias, and so did the customers,” she said.

During the past winter, Lisa decided to really expand and purchase a high tunnel, which is a large hoop style “greenhouse.” She said everyone always wonders what the difference between a high tunnel and a greenhouse is, and it’s simple. A high tunnel is covered in light, 6 mil. plastic and the sides roll up along with the front and back. It is not heated, whereas a greenhouse has a more solid structure and is enclosed so that it can be heated. High tunnels allow the plants to get full sun exposure, but keep them protected from pests, disease, and weather. Lisa’s high tunnel measures 30’ wide x 84’ long. This allows her to expand into different varieties of flowers that aren’t as well known and are unique. It also allows Lisa to extend her growing season by a couple of months. Eventually, she plans to grow larger and be able to sell to local florists. She also purchased a large walk-in cooler to keep the flowers cool, so customers are getting fresh and healthy flowers.

Lisa begins starting seeds around January or February in a room inside her garage. It’s heated by a furnace and is the perfect area. Once they get a certain size and depending on the variety, they will be transferred to the tunnel and finished there. All of Lisa’s flowers are started from seed or tubers/bulbs.

And how has this growing season been? Well, she said it’s certainly been a learning experience. She completed an on-line workshop that took about six weeks. She did learn tons, but putting that into practice took a little trial and error.

“I made a few mistakes, but certainly learned from it and will make a few changes next time. The weather was a little tricky this year, and put a lot of flower growers off about three weeks behind, but things are finally taking off!” she said.

Lisa’s main focus will be on Dahlias – with over 100 varieties – but she has also planted Zinnias, Cosmos, Verbascum, Lisianthus, Aster, Daisy, Bells of Ireland, Sunflowers, Snapdragons, Stock, Statice, Sweet Peas, Larkspur, Sweet Annie, Anise Hyssop, Delphinium, Eucalyptus, Lupine, and Lace Flower. This is a mix of annuals, perennials, and biennials.

Lisa said it’s always busy at Dahlia Valley Ranch. Winter may seem a little slower, but there is still a lot of time and patience taking care of the little seedlings. Once they are in the tunnel, it’s more or less watering, pulling weeds, and tying up plants daily. Cutting the flowers is not that bad, and currently takes about an hour. Making bouquets or markets currently takes a couple hours, and Lisa tries to keep it as efficient and streamlined as possible. She is selling from the farm and at farmer’s markets in North Platte, Arnold, and possibly Gothenburg. Anyone can call or message Lisa if they need a bouquet for a special occasion.

Lisa started selling subscriptions this year. Customers are able to sign up and purchase small or large bouquets on her website that can be delivered weekly to their homes in Arnold, or they can catch Lisa at any one of the markets. She will have pre-made flower bouquets ready to go. So far, Lisa believes her business is successful.

“This is still in the early stages but the feedback I’m getting is really positive!” she said. “A lot of people aren’t aware that most florists receive their flowers from overseas and are imported in. Most countries, like South Africa, South America, Netherlands, Italy, and China, grow tons of cut flowers and ship them to the states. One other perk to buying locally is not only supporting the local farmers, but you know where it comes from. I take a step further and use sustainable methods to grow the flowers and only use natural fertilizers. I’m also learning ways to use natural methods to control pests. My husband and I are looking forward to making our own compost, too. So stay tuned!”

Lisa can be reached at the website: www.dahliavalleyranch.com or on Facebook and Instagram.

article by: Janet Larreau

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