Thank you to all who made the 2017 Down home ranch Poinsettia season Great!
We appreciate all the volunteers who helped plant, grow, package and deliver poinsettias this year, as well as all the friends of Down Home Ranch who purchased from this year’s crop. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of Ranchers!
How We Grow and Care For Poinsettias
While the temperatures were still hitting 100 degrees and above, we are ordering 11,000 tiny plants that we will faithfully care for until they bloom into beautiful velvety-scarlet plants heralding the joy of Christmas.
The plants arrive in August, and we count on dozens of volunteers to help us plant the 3″ high rooted cuttings and set them out where they will be lovingly hand watered. After 3 weeks, the volunteers return to help us pinch them back, and in another 3 weeks volunteers help us spread them out and hook them up to automatic irrigators, so they have room to grow in one of our 11 greenhouses.
Naturally, our Ranchers will help with all this, filling pots and racking them, pushing them to the planters, taking the racks back to the greenhouses and then starting all over again. At Christmas-time, they help pack the plants and go on deliveries as Ranch ambassadors to churches, businesses, schools and homes, proud of the work they’ve done.
Christmas poinsettias, Easter lilies, and spring color baskets are an important part of Down Home Ranch Enterprises. We depend upon our enterprises to supplement our charitable and fee-for-service income, to provide those things that ensure a quality of life second to none for our Ranchers.
Enterprises provide jobs for the Ranchers, but they’re not the only ones that benefit. Many of our customers use poinsettia sales as an annual fundraiser. Schools, church groups and independent commercial nurseries appreciate the quality and hardiness of our poinsettias and come back for more, year after year. If you’re interested in selling our poinsettias as a fundraiser, contact us at [email protected].
How We Learned to Grow Poinsettias
Even when Down Home Ranch was just the dream of a mom and dad who had a baby girl with Down syndrome, horticulture was on the forefront of our founders’ minds. Early on, some friends gave the Ranch a large, open-sided hoop house to get started, and a few years later Joe Matthews, an Abilene businessman, gave five beautiful, gently used Nexus greenhouses, which he delivered like a gigantic erector set to the Ranch.
We didn’t have the money to have them set up, so we figured out how to do it ourselves, panel by panel, bolt by bolt. Brian Loer, a math student from UT-Austin, came out many times with his buddies from Lambda Omega Alpha, the men’s Catholic fraternity. Brian showed up a few days after graduation and asked for a job. Brian has been with the Ranch ever since, and now serves as Grower in charge of greenhouse operations!
When the greenhouses were up and functioning, another friend magically showed up to teach us the ins and outs of growing poinsettias. C.O. Smith was owner/operator of Hill Country Nursery in Austin, and out of the kindness of his heart and appreciation for our mission, shared his knowledge and experience with us.
We started small and worked our way up to as many as 15,000 plants that are delivered all over Central Texas.
To everyone who has bought our plants, helped out in the greenhouses during crunch time or donated to the Ranch to help make this dream come true, thank you! We couldn’t do it without you.