Saturday, January 24, 2015

Warm and Fuzzy

Later on, my feet will hurt and my shoulders will ache. Later on, there will be weeds and bugs and sweat and worry and deadlines. But on this January day, the sun is shining, the wind is light, and the season is new. It is just like the first day of spring training when hope springs unbidden in the heart of fans everywhere. This....this will be the year.....that all the pots will arrive on time...that no trucker will follow his GPS and get stuck in the mud of 150th west of Highway 59.....that it won't freeze or snow on May 3rd...
Winter is the time to build (two new bays on the gutter connect house); to repair (fan belts, stovepipe, electrical this and that); and to re-cover (still working on that...three more greenhouses to go). Winter is the time to call on old customers and try to find new ones, to order seed and cuttings and plan, plan, plan. But winter ceased on Sunday when the first heaters were lit and Monday when the first pots were filled. Tuesday Kevin, our trusty FedEx driver, made the first of countless drops of boxes in the office.
It may be January, but at Hurst Greenery, it is officially spring 2015.
We unboxed 400 ferns yesterday. It takes a long time to fill out a fern basket when you grow as far north as we live. Ferns may be happy in the shade during our hot summers, but they tend to sit and wait and do nothing during the cold dark days of winter. For several years we got the ferns in December to give them an extra month to grow, but it was a waste of time and propane. The plants sulked; nothing grew in the pots but moss. We try to fool the ferns with supplemental lighting, but there is no substitute for the longer days after winter solstice.

Geraniums also benefit from additional light. We root our own geranium cuttings for several reasons: 1)to save money on shipping for the large quantity of cuttings we order and 2) to have that nice big rootball established when the geraniums are transplanted into bigger pots and hanging baskets. Geraniums may not be the earliest bloomers in the greenhouse, but they are poster children for flower power. It takes lots of space, lots of fertilizer, and lots of grooming to grow the beauty queens we send off in April.

I have always enjoyed rooting cuttings and still get lots of pleasure when the first  white roots poke through the bottom of the cell pack. A week or two after sticking the cuttings it is difficult not to "peek" and pull the cuttings up to look for new roots. To speed the process, we run a fog machine like you see on the sidelines of a football game to increase the humidity when the cuttings are first planted; a bright day even in January will make the rootless leaves and stems wilt down alarmingly.

And this is what 3000 red geranium cuttings look like just planted. These cuttings were shipped to us from Mexico. Tomorrow Lee and I will plant 4000 more cuttings purchased from another supplier and harvested in Guatemala. The cuttings are bagged by variety and packed to keep cool....not warm! We rarely receive frozen plants even in the depths of winter, but we worry about shipping and are thankful for weeks of moderate weather like we have enjoyed recently.

We've had company in the greenhouse this week. The puppies reduce our productivity, but they sure are cute!
Gabe and Popeye

Abbie and Gibbs
From geranium cuttings to puppies, this year's greenhouse season is starting out warm and fuzzy!

No comments:

Post a Comment