Grower known for Buckaroo Bouquets grown under Nevada sky
This time of year, Carole Smith can be found most days driving her golf cart among rows of fragrant and brightly colored flowers with her cat, Molene, seated beside her.
Smith is focused on weeding flowerbeds and cutting blooms for her regionally known Buckaroo Bouquets, which she sells at area markets. Molene is focused on ambushing mice and lizards.
Smith & Smith Farms, located in Dayton, is situated on 10 acres and includes an orchard, vegetable garden, pond, free-range chickens and an acre-and-a-half of flowers. Smith has one field devoted to annuals and another to perennials.
“The bouquets are different every week depending on what’s in bloom, and I try to put a little bit of everything in each bouquet. There could be as many as 10 varieties, but usually there are seven or eight,” Smith said.
“I don’t worry about colors. People want to make it too hard, but it would drive me crazy if I worried about what to put where,” she said. “It all works out.”
Smith and her daughter started the flower farm about 15 years ago, and when daughter moved away, Smith said, she couldn’t imagine discontinuing the enterprise.
“I just like gardening,” she said. “It’s so energizing and quiet. I love being out here.”
Smith said she usually starts her day in the flower fields around 8 a.m. and is done by about 3 p.m. She weeds, picks flowers — which go into water buckets lined up on the back of her golf cart — then cleans stems and assembles bouquets in her walk-in cooler.
Flower season starts early with seed plantings of annuals growing in the greenhouse. They eventually make their way to her “hoop house” before going into the ground, and she often uses fabric covers to provide humidity.
Seeds, she said, are expensive, but she prefers buying them, rather than harvesting and saving them from year to year, because it is less time-consuming.
“This year was a challenge because of the late frost, but when you live in Nevada, that’s all part of growing in Nevada,” she said.
Her grandson, Diego Lozada, helps her daily with some of the work, including laying irrigation drip lines and and driving the tractor.
“I grow everything on drip because there are less weeds that way,” she said.
In the biggest section, Smith leaves enough space between double rows of raised beds to drive her golf cart. In a smaller area, she plants cereal rye to cut down on weeds and dust as well as to protect delicate blooms from Nevada’s hot, dry winds.
“I’m always trying to trick the weeds,” she said.
Smith grows totally organic and rotates her crops every two years so she doesn’t deplete the soil.
She prefers to list what she doesn’t grow rather than try to list everything in her fields, but shoppers should not be surprised to find sunflowers, gladiolas, Shasta daisies, dahlias, lisianthus, zinnias, asters, lilies, peonies, dianthus or gloriosa daisies in the mix of their Buckaroo Bouquet.
“I do most everything except roses and chrysanthemums,” she said simply.
This year, Smith got a late start due to the late arrival of summer, and she’ll try to continue through September.
“I have plenty to carry me through. If there’s an easy frost, I can limp along, but once there’s a hard frost, I’m done,” she said.
Fall chores include rototilling and spreading compost, which she makes herself.
The business end includes selling to the Great Basin Community Co-op in Reno and at local farmers markets.
“I’m happy if I can meet my costs,” she said. “You have to like to do this, because it’s a lot of work.”