Dirt Makes the Difference
With the emergence of new and improved methods for growing and cultivating our food, flowers, and families, we now have the power to demand sustainable practices in partnership with incredible quality. Consumers are consistently asking, “How was this grown?” After all, even with cut flowers, there are grower “secrets” and differences in technique which will affect the final product. With the iconic tulip, for example, there are two main methods for cultivation: a) in soil, or b) in water (aka hydroponics). At the Barn, we grow our tulips the traditional way—in the dirt—and it most certainly makes a difference.
Tulips were born in the soil, which means any variety planted in the earth can flourish, whereas not all cultivars are suited for growth in water. Because soil is the traditional and instinctive medium for cultivating tulips, it’s fairly easy for us to choose any variety, plant it in rich soil, and weeks later we have a beautiful and healthy new flower to offer. In addition, tulips like the dirt—their “hometown” acts as a buffer, protecting the bulb and allowing it to slowly and steadily blossom naturally.
Hydroponic farming has its strengths, and for certain foods and crops (such as leafy greens and vining plants) it is an ideal form of cultivation. However, there are a few intrinsic biological limitations to growing tulips (or any bulbous flower) in water*. Some commercial hydroponic systems mean a higher chance of disease, plus some tulip varieties are susceptible to stem topple in that environment. Though less space is required for hydroponic tulip forcing, a greater amount of specialized equipment is needed for the robotic handling of the flowers at various stages throughout production. Here, at the Barn, we plant and pick with our hands. We recycle our soil, using an environmentally friendly steam-sterilization technique, while also employing crop rotation, integrated waste/compost management, and energy-efficient greenhouses.
These sustainable growing practices come together to bring you some exceptional eco flowers. Ultimately, the quality of the end product is where our soil-grown tulips really shine. Our tulips weigh an average of 45 grams, nearly double than their water-grown counterparts. This heaviness is reflected in their stronger stems, which is needed in order to support their full, plump blooms. The heartiness in our tulips’ stems and heads mean a longer vase life and more enjoyment for the viewer.
If you would like to experience the natural beauty of soil-grown tulips, treat yourself to our tri-color tulip collection: 24 stems of Orange Juice, Yellow Flight, and Purple Lady gathered together in a brilliant showcase of what dirt can do.
*As cited in the book, Ornamental Geophytes: From Basic Science to Sustainable Production, by Rina Kamenetsky and Hiroshi Okubo.