Hello Edward, 

I’ve been in the “green” industry for over 30 years and it amazes me how far we have come as professionals regarding pesticide usage. As an industry, we can see how better informed and concerned our clientele are for their health, their family’s health, and the health of our planet. Those concerns have encouraged growers, such as us, to challenge themselves and their peers to adopt responsible pest management strategies. Some growers have been pioneers in this regard and unfortunately, some growers never do adopt responsible strategies. I’m proud to say that America’s Best Flowers has been a pioneer.


When I started out in my first greenhouse, a lot of growers were spraying pesticides on a very specific rotation, every 3 days, every 5 days, every 7 days or whatever. There was nearly zero tolerance for any pests on a plant. Many of the chemicals used were labelled with skull and crossbones! You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what these chemicals did to your body, nearby wildlife and the environment!

All pollinators, especially bees, have gained national attention because they are slowly disappearing. Pesticides either directly or indirectly have played a role in their demise. Better targeted and timely pesticide management would eliminate some of the risk.
What I think most can agree on is that if there is a way to manage pests to a “tolerable” level and have the least amount of impact on the health and well-being of humans, the environment and wildlife, we should adopt those protocols. One way that can be accomplished is to use “good bugs” to destroy the “bad bugs”. By using good bugs we minimize pesticide usage.


We are one of only a few growers in the area that are on a “Biological Pest Control” Program. We use things like Parasitic Wasps (good bug) to control aphids (bad bug) and Predatory Mites (good bug) to control Thrips (bad bug). We actually use over a dozen different types of good bugs for pest control.

This is our first line of defense. It involves scouting the greenhouses to see what pests are present, if any. This is done each week in a methodical manner, so that nothing gets missed. If bad bugs are seen, a curative strategy is implemented. Even if no bad bugs are seen, the potential for bad bugs prompts us to release good bugs in a preventative strategy. It’s all about keeping things under control!

It’s going to be an exciting week at the greenhouse, as our first good bugs will show up! I like to think of them as a little brigade of soldiers, ready to fight! When you’re out to the greenhouse to see us, take notice of the blue and yellow cards scattered amongst the crops. Those are scouting cards that give us an idea of what bad bugs are there and their populations.

Our good bugs are released in many ways: scattered over crops, in sachets, whole bottles set out into crops and small numbers put into plastic ketchup containers and set amongst the crops. If you see any of these things and wonder what they are, now you know. They are our “little battalion” of good bugs ready to wage war on the bad bugs and allow us to do our small part in protecting the planet from the overuse of pesticides.

Wisconsin Garden Expo
FEBRUARY 9-11, 2018
fri: 12-8pm | sat: 9am-6pm | sun: 10am-4pm
Exhibition Hall, Alliant Energy Center | Madison, Wisconsin

Come see us there! Booth Numbers 523-537 & 600-605

Garden Expo is presented by Wisconsin Public Television and UW-Extension-Horticulture as a fundraiser for Wisconsin Public Television.
You can purchase your tickets here
My wife’s a water sign.  I’m an earth sign. 
Together we make mud. 

Is your non-profit organization in need of funds?

Click on the image for more information
America’s Best Flowers’ fundraising program is in full swing and runs through April 2, 2018.  We have designed it to be quick, easy, and profitable. In as little as 2-3 weeks or less, you can earn substantial money for your group.

For further details or questions contact Shirley at
abfscimino@yahoo.com 

Bromeliads

 
You may not recognize the name Bromeliad, but you probably recognize a couple members of this family of over 2500 species. Pineapple, Spanish Moss and those plants being marketed as “Air Plants”, are all Bromeliads.

 

In their natural environment, these plants are found growing in trees, shrubs or on rocks, their roots being used primarily as support. With the exception of the Tillandsia, the most recognized “air plants”, all do well potted in containers. Use a potting media such as Espoma Orchid Mix, which is fast draining, a necessary characteristic of the soil.
 
Bromeliads that have a central cup, formed by a rosette of overlapping leaves, need to have this cup filled with water at all times. Be sure to clean out the cup occasionally to prevent water from becoming stagnant. The soil itself should be moist, but not soggy. In general, the soft leaved types will require more water and more humid conditions than stiff-leaved types. Tillandsia should be misted at least once a week, more often if humidity is low.
 
All types of Bromeliads need bright, diffused light. However, the stiff leaved types, with spines on the edges can tolerate brighter light than the soft, spineless types.
 
Fertilization depends upon the species of Bromeliad. Those with a “cup” can be fed with slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote. Never place fertilizer in the cup. Tillandsia can be sprayed with liquid fertilizer mixed at ¼ strength. Apply this several times per growing season.
 
Once Bromeliads bloom, they send out offshoots called “Pups”. When the Pup is ½ the size of the mother plant, it can be removed with a sharp knife and planted in a container to grow on its own. Use Bonide Bontone Rooting Powder to help the pup root faster. Pups bloom 8 months to 2 years after planting.
 
Each individual plant generally blooms only once in its lifetime, so it’s important to cultivate the pups. Despite the fact it only blooms once, the foliage is so bright and colorful, it’s still a beautiful plant to be enjoyed!

Floral notes
Love is Sweet and so are you…
Call or visit either one of our locations and get your order in today!
Whether you are looking to send the classic dozen red roses or a custom arrangement of her favorite flowers, we are here for you.  We also carry cuddly plush animals and chocolates to add that something extra to your delivery. If flowers are not their cup of tea, why not send them a balloon bouquet to celebrate. Whatever route you choose, just make sure to get your orders in early to ensure the best selection.
Edgerton 
Cottage Grove

Employment Opportunities

 

Do you enjoy helping people? How about working with flowers and in the dirt? 
If so, we may have the perfect job for you. 
We are looking for a few good people to join our team.
Customer Service Associates: Cottage Grove and Edgerton Locations

We’re looking for Customer Service Associates with strong customer service skills and a willingness to learn. General plant knowledge of common annuals, vegetables and herbs is needed. Positions include some watering and plant maintenance. These are seasonal, full time or part time positions.

Retail Cashier: Cottage Grove Location

We are in need of a couple of great people to operate our Point-of-Sale system to efficiently and accurately take care of our customers. Minimum requirements are the ability to practice patience at all times and a perpetual smile. These are part time, seasonal positions- April until June.

Office/Administrative Assistant: Cottage Grove Location

Our veteran Administrative Assistant, Bev, ran off and got married last August (we’re all very happy for her, but we miss her!). So, we’re in need of someone with strong office skills: filing, answering phones, mailing and preparing reports. This position will also perform accounting functions, balancing cash drawers, counting receipts and preparing bank deposits. It is a permanent part time position to start, working to permanent full time for the right person. Future duties would include accounts receivable and/or accounts payable. Experience with databases is a plus. Must be proficient in Word and Excel.

Grower/Biological Control Technician: Cottage Grove Location

Do you have a horticulture background? We are searching for the right candidate to take over the responsibility of Grower for our operation. We are approximately 2 acres under cover and grow almost all of our own product. Pest control is done primarily through monitoring and release of biological controls. Minimum requirements are a two year Horticulture degree and ability to pass the State Pesticide Certification exam. This is a full time, permanent position.

Please apply in person Monday-Saturday 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM 
and allow 30-45 minutes to complete the application.

What do you call a stolen yam?
A hot potato.
Upcoming Events 2018 – Mark your Calendars!!!

2018 will be full of new workshops and informational classes for you to attend. 
Like our Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest!
Growing Berries in your own Backyard
Instructor: Ed 

Saturday, February 17, 2018, 11am-12pm

There’s nothing like having sweet berries right from your own garden,
whether you are thinking of planting Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, or Blackberries. Hey, if you’re feeling up to it, why not grow them all! 
During this free informational class, experts will answer all your questions, from where to plant berries, to how to care for them and the list goes on. 

Can’t you just picture it right now … walking into your garden and picking a plump sweet blueberry right from your own yard. The rewards are definitely sweet!  Pre-registration is appreciated. Call 608 222-2269 and we can add your name to the list!


Summer Bulb Care
Instructors: Lori & Chris

Saturday, February 24, 11am – 12pm    

If you have questions on how to plant bulbs, where to plant them and how to care for them, then this FREE informative class is for you. Our experts will give you tips and tricks for planting a variety of bulbs. 

Starting Seeds Indoors
Instructor: Ed

Saturday, March 3, 11am – 12pm

Get ready for spring and start your seeds indoors. This free class offers great tips for both beginners and seasoned gardeners.
 

 

All classes are only available at our Cottage Grove location.
To reserve your spot please call (608) 222-2269 to register.

Chocolate Turtle Poke Cake 

Ingredients 
  • 1 (15.25 oz) package chocolate cake mix, prepared according to package instructions 
  • 1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Caramel Flavored Sweetened Condensed Milk 
  • 1 (16 oz) can store bought chocolate frosting 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
  • Store bought caramel syrup for drizzling on top of cake 
Note: If you can’t find the seasonal flavor of the Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, you can substitute 1 cup of caramel flavored syrup, (found in the ice cream section of your grocer). 
If it’s too thick to pour, heat in microwave according to package instructions before pouring over cake. 


Instructions 
1. Bake cake according to package instructions. Let cool for 10 minutes. Punch holes in top of cake using the handle of a wooden spoon. 
2. Pour can of Eagle Brand Caramel Flavored Sweetened Condensed Milk over the top of cake. Spread to make sure it gets into all of the holes. Put cake in refrigerator for 1 hour. Frost cake with chocolate frosting. Add nuts and chocolate chips on top. Drizzle with caramel syrup. Slice and serve. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 5 days.



SEE YOU SOON!!!