Our family farm began in 1950 with the marriage of Ross and Dorothy and their purchase of the main farm. They worked hard expanding the farm and getting their six children through college.
The Iverson family began growing tulips in 1974. The first tulips belonged to Dr. Holman who would ship part of the bulbs to Indiana every year for forcing. When he retired in the late 1970’s we bought a few acres of bulbs from him.
By the early 1980’s we had over 15 acres and needed to broaden the market base. Seeing this as an opportunity, in 1983 we started the Wooden Shoe Bulb Company which had a name change to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in 2001.
In the first few years we printed up black and white order sheets and sales were slow. Then, in 1985, we opened our fields for Easter weekend. The rest you may say is history.
Now we open our fields for an entire month, end of March the first week of May. We have greatly expanded our operation to include taking bulb orders, cut flowers, potted tulips, a gift shop, and all sorts of food and activities on weekends for all members of the family.
In recent years we have also added our Fall Gift Shop, Pumpkin Fest and Fields of Terror in the fall, to not only have onsite bulbs available for purchase but to incorporate the other crops that we farm besides tulips and daffodils which include corn, grass seed, wheat, pumpkins, green beans, table and wine grapes. This year we are excited to announce our newest edition; Wooden Shoe Vineyards.
Planting & Digging the Tulips
We plant our tulip fields in October. The bulbs are planted in raised rows with furrows to ensure they have proper drainage and to make harvesting easier. We have had the unfortunate experience of losing many a tulip planted in a low swail during a wet year. Planting is done by 3 machines we purchased from Holland. In the fall, one machine plants the tulips through a tube holding a net, 2 rows at a time. The net can be seen at the end of the rows.
At digging, a second machine lifts the nets out of the ground and our third machine picks up the nets. This system can dig the bulbs faster, leaves fewer bulbs in the field, helps us keep track of the varieties and takes almost no soil out of the field. We dig our tulips every year and rotate on a five year rotation. We actually rotate all our crops using cover crops as much as possible on our farm. This helps with disease, insect, weed and erosion control. In your garden you should try to do the same by not replanting tulips in exactly the same place you dug them.
When the tulips are blooming we rogue the fields for disease and wrong colored flowers. We remove the plant by pulling it out.
After the spring show in April, our crew will remove all the remaining flower heads. This prevents the petals form dropping and creating disease in the fields as well as it promotes a larger bulb. We also let the stems die down naturally before harvesting them in June.
Our Cut Flowers
There can be tulips in bloom for over 8 weeks. The early varieties bloom as early as late February and the late varieties bloom in late April. The majority of the tulips start blooming at the end of March depending on the weather.
We pick barely open flowers. All picking is done by hand; using metal tools greatly increases the spread of disease. After picking our tulips in the field, they are taken to our barn where they are washed, immediately wrapped in clear cello to protect the flowers then placed upright in trays. The flowers are quickly moved into cold storage (33°F) and placed in a container with water. These steps are important in lengthening the life of the flower.
Tulips can last up to 8 hours without water. They will take 1 to 3 days to open, depending how much color is showing when purchased. We provide florist quality flowers to stores across the United States.
After a variety has finished blooming, we remove the flower and seed pod before the petals drop. This is called topping. Leaving all those petals in the field is an ideal environment for disease. Topping is done by hand to minimize the spread of tulip virus. The virus varies the color of the flower and foliage. Topping the flower also removes the seed pod so that the remaining energy goes into the bulb for next year’s flower.