Robin-Lee

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Week 4 Under the Greenhouse: My Greenhouse Role & A Trixi Trip

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The greenhouse is a huge operation.

And it’s just one part — a large part, but just one — of a whole network and process of getting the plant cutting/seed/what-have-you to its final destination, be it ready to sell at Home Depot or for a local landscaping company to install in someone’s front yard.

And it’s taken me four weeks to both understand our part of the process as well as my role in the greenhouse (communication there is…wanting). My job is assisting in the cuttings and transplant department of the greenhouse — the other “departments” or roles of the greenhouse include the sales team, shipping/packaging department, the seeding (watch this amazing

My tray of partially stuck Dorotheanthus bellidiformis Mezoo Trailing Red. Squishy to touch, hard to say.

My tray of partially stuck Dorotheanthus bellidiformis Mezoo Trailing Red. Squishy to touch, hard to pronounce.

video of the kind of vacuum-operated seed machine we use in the greenhouse) and soil mixing/prepping room, the roving pesticide girls (an all-woman team that never seems to stop spraying — aphids and fungal disease are always big worries), and, of course, the actual greenhouses themselves.

These are broken up into several: a row outside for those plants being “hardened off”, or subjected to a bit of cold to make them hardier, one for mainly transplanting seedlings into larger-sized trays, one with air flow (I’m obviously vague on this one’s purpose), and the main greenhouse, where booms constantly whirr up and down the long aisles of heated metal slats on which plants are constantly moved throughout each section under grow lights until they’re either sent out to be hardened off or carted away to the shipping department.

All very organized. All very specific. All very involved, and yet just a part of the whole, as with my small role in the cuttings department, where we receive shipments from all of the world to be “stuck” into trays of varying sizes and receiving various treatments (e.g., hormone growth dip). Shipments this week included Dahlia cuttings from Kenya, Vinca and Petunia from Israel, and Ipomoea a little closer to home from Michigan.

In addition to sticking, our department records the incoming shipments, organize them into some logical order of the week’s sticking schedule, and place them in cold storage until it’s time to get the “ladies” (seasonal workers who relocated here from Cambodia) to fill up the trays and send out the trays to the greenhouses.

Now that we’re entering into the busy season, the greenhouses are filling up and the work hours are getting longer. Every variety of plant has a different set of growing requirements, so the ladies prune the premature bolters, mist booms slide from one end of the greenhouse to the other, and I do my best to not drop trays of Trixis a second heart-stopping time — three tiny, tediously stuck plant cuttings placed into individual plastic tray cells — gorgeous when they grow out, as seen in some of my favorite Trixi brands here).

Being that anything can happen in any part of the greenhouse and thanks to years of risk management in place by the time I decided to let fly some doomed Million Bells and Verbenas, we had an extra on hand, and the department didn’t collapse into chaos.

Still, not a great way to start out the fourth week in general.

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Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

February 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm

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