Greenhouse Field Trip – a peek into how the Big Boys do things

greenhouse speaker empty tablesOne of the field trips Jack and I went on in January was to a greenhouse.  The original plan did not have this as a stop, but sometimes you have to go with the flow and I think this turned out really well.  The person showing us around had about an hour’s notice that 50+ home schoolers and their families were wanting to come visit.  He did great!  His own kids, toddlers, were even there.  I suspect it was more of a “let’s go see what Daddy does at work” sort of thing, but I thought it was a perfect addition.  He also was fairly relaxed, which I suspect comes with getting to be in a greenhouse all day, I would be fairly relaxed too.

The photo above shows part of one room that was awaiting trays of plants.  The amount of space they  have to fill is several times the size of my house.  A few of the greenhouses could have fit my house twice and still had extra space.  This greenhouse complex is one belonging to a nation wide brand. The amount of plants coming out of this one set of greenhouses is amazing.

greenhouse tray filling station collage

Here is where it all begins: filling trays with seed starting mix (top left), making holes and dropping in seeds (lower left), adding a covering (bottom right), and watering the appropriate amount (top right).  Everything runs like clockwork.

The soil mix is added to the large hopper in bags that are as tall as me.  These bags come from somewhere off site and are delivered, each on top of their own pallet.  Yes, BIG bags of soil mix.

The trays are labeled with the type of plants to be started in them.  Someone in the office prints these off and attaches them.  Once they are wheeled out on a cart to this station, the workers do not need to count or thing much about what is to be going in them.

greenhouse seeds started

greenhouse seed starting trays

This is one of but many ‘arms’ of the greenhouses.  Each contains plants needing similar growing environments.  While it was cold enough for the ponds to be frozen outside, many of us had to strip off our coats and pull up our sleeves while here.  In warmer months, there are vents that can be opened.  Each end also held a fan to aid in air circulation.

greenhouse potted plants cutting source

Some plants do better propagating via cuttings.  There was a room for that, too.  These lovely ladies get to spend their day being pampered with food and individual drinks.  Later, they are the source for hundreds of new plants.

greenhouse cuttings taking root

Some plants will get too big for a table and are placed directly on the gravel floor to grow.  These cuttings have already rooted and were transplanted into pots to grow more.  They will not be ready to ship out for quite some time. which makes it important to get them started early.

greenhouse hanging baskets

Pots, pots, and more pots.  Everywhere we looked there were hanging baskets above our heads.  It seemed like any space they could put them, they did.  If you look close, you can see they are hooked onto a chain of sorts.  This is actually a conveyor belts, making it possible for a person to stand at one end and hook the hanging baskets on from one location.  It also aids in their removal. Due to the amount of light that enters these greenhouses, having hanging baskets above other growing plants is not an issue.  Actually it is a great use of space.

greenhouse floor childrens feet

By the end of the tour, the kids were tired.  It had been a long day.  I, however, was re-energized; a good thing as I was the one who had to drive back almost 2 hours.  In all, I think it was a great change to the schedule and would do this again.