Friday, January 20, 2012

Dayton "Dirt" - January 20, 2012

We are in the depth of winter and the planting in the greenhouse seems to go on and on.

This coming week we’ll be receiving about 10,000 cuttings of various annual flowers from Guatemala. These cuttings will require a light misting until rooted and in addition some of the varieties need to be dipped in a weak solution of IBA (Indolebutyric Acid) and supplemental lighting with a high pressure sodium lamp that will provide about 1000 foot candles of light during these cloudy dark winter days.

Another aspect of our winter growing is weekly testing of the growing media of the plants to make sure that the pH remains in an acceptable of 5.6 to 6.2, depending on the plant. The fertilizer or salt level is monitored along with the pH to ensure that it is neither too high nor too low. Values that are too high might burn the roots and could damage or kill the plant. Values of salt readings that are too low indicate not enough fertilizer has been applied to keep growth going so that the plants are full and beautiful for sales in May.

It takes a lot of preparation and planning well ahead of the planting to develop a system to yield a good crop of flowers and make it profitable!

I remember the “old days” when we sold 8, 4½ geraniums in a wooden basket for $8.00 or $9.00. The trouble began when natural gas prices literally went through the roof and many greenhouses in our area were of the energy hungry, single pane glass type. Needless to say, the geranium greenhouses went out of business which caused these inexpensive geraniums to vanish.

Today, new types of compact geraniums can be grown in packs that have 6, 3 inch pots that enables our customer to purchase plants at an affordable price and allows us to make a reasonable profit. For sure, the free market has brought a whirlwind of changes in just a few short years.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Dayton "Dirt" - January 13, 2012

The warm weather this past week has been welcomed by almost everyone but as I stated in my January 6th blog it can create problems for plants too.

On the upside, anyone who heats with natural gas and is on a floating rate, costs are going down. In fact the gas company may even run out of storage space due to heavy production in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and because of mild winter temperatures. Well do I remember the dreaded gas meter indicator clicking round and round when the price for the gas alone was closer to 8.00 per MCF instead of the now 4.50 on the floating rate.

While the nursery will save greatly on natural gas costs this year as compared to 2 and 3 years ago, other costs have risen such as pot and flat prices for our greenhouse product. However, we did lower prices on many greenhouse products last year and did not raise others that have remained the same for years and found that our total revenue and profit was up over the last two year’s average.

I’d like to see such a strategy of some lower prices in the grocery store but I think that would be just wishful thinking.

Our seminars are getting closer and with mine being the first one on February 4th, I’m having to do a lot of research as I’m finding out that I don’t know enough about some of the trees I’ll be speaking about.

So far, winter has been “good” to us but we still have a long way to go.

Dayton "Dirt" - January 6, 2012

The weather is acting more like it’s late March to very early April instead of the depth of winter in January!

A little colder temperatures would be nice for our plants in cold storage as a few varieties of plants want to break out of dormancy and fungus problems increase because of the warmth and high humidity in the storage houses.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t run away to Florida all winter as I’m busy in the greenhouse, busy reviewing spring orders, busy researching new products, busy with the upcoming seminars and busy with tax work. Winter for me is an opportunity to get a lot of behind the scenes work done.

Be sure to review our upcoming seminars that start February 4th that are not only educational but give a welcome break from winter’s grip.