July 22, 2008

Vegetables Are Bedding Plants

In the June 12, 2008 Lansing State Journal, the comic strip Arlo & Janis surely hit home! It shows an old fellow planting vegetables and saying to himself, “Why haven’t we grown vegetables before?” He thinks they are healthy, creative and so green! His wife tells him they are going to be the next big thing. He looks at her and says, “I thought this was my idea.” After reading the statistics from the USDA on the 15 percent decrease in vegetable plant sales from 2006 to 2007 and having it reported in another trade magazine, growers thought they should reduce vegetable plant production. Unfortunately, reading a report that is almost two years old is like reading what the stock market was valued at two years ago. With the increases in the price of food and the tomato-salmonella scare, going back to having vegetable gardens became to many people not […]

Read More

July 16, 2008

Ones To Watch: Susie Raker

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary celebration, we’ll profile industry people over the next 25 weeks who we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Our Ones To Watch series continues this week with Susie Raker,  team leader of C. Raker & Sons’ marketing and product support teams. Age–27 Her job–Team is a key concept at C. Raker & Sons, and Susie is the team leader of the company’s marketing and product support teams. Resume builder–Besides earning a bachelor’s in horticulture at Michigan State University, Susie has studied horticulture in Chile and worked for Goldsmith Seeds in Gilroy, Calif., and Bachman’s Nursery in Minneapolis. Organizational involvement–Susie is involved with OFA, ANLA and MNLA, and she’s an active member of the Generation Next Committee. Industry education–“A lot of my peers are not educated about plants. We need to show them all of the fun […]

Read More

July 9, 2008

Ones To Watch: Raymond Bowdish

Age–43 His job–Head grower, head of maintenance and proprietor are some of the hats Bowdish wears at his small greenhouse operation in Lisbon, N.Y. For the little guys–Never Tire Farm may be a small greenhouse operation, but it’s very adaptive. Raymond and his four major employees, who include his wife Megan, have stuck with their plan of becoming a supplier of quality plants while using no registered pesticides. Never Tire Farm relies on biological controls to solve its pest problems instead. “Most people are amazed that fewer than four full-time people can handle such a diverse crop in our little half-acre,” Raymond says. Keeping it local - To inform customers that its plants are provided in an area of less than 200 miles, Never Tire Farms plans to customize all of its tags with its location over the next year. Never Tiring–Away from the greenhouse, Bowdish has been working with […]

Read More

July 9, 2008

Insurance Plan Exclusive To SAF Members

The program uses a trust established by SAF, which is in an arrangement that allows participating member companies to join together to obtain coverage in a single policy of insurance. “We continually look for ways to enhance our membership’s array of services,” says Peter Moran, executive vice president and CEO of SAF. “The advent of this health plan gives us the opportunity to make vital services available and provides an alternative for those searching for help with their health insurance programs.” For more information on Hortica, click here.

Read More

July 7, 2008

Our Ones To Watch

Twenty-five years from now, in 2033, the industry could have a whole new look. Will it be more consolidated? Will smaller growers be even more specialized? And, of course, how green will the industry be by then? Only time can answer those questions, but even the next 25 years will need a few leaders to lean on. So beginning this month, and as part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we’ll identify and profile ones to watch — the industry’s movers and shakers — through November, before reaching our special December issue. We’ll also profile a different person each week in our e-newsletter, Benchrunner, starting this month. LISA TAKAO Age - 27 Her Job–As the one responsible for the creative direction and visual identity of Takao Nursery, Lisa sets the overall marketing theme for the company through the company logo, its Web site, annual catalog, newsletters, plant tags and presentations and tradeshow booth […]

Read More

July 7, 2008

Some Things Never Change

You can read many business magazines and see how they are looking back over the years to explain what is happening now. There is a saying that you can talk with economists and they can tell you where we have been and what trends have gotten us to this point, but they have great difficulty in forecasting what will happen in the future. I would like to share some old cultural, marketing, and management information that may be of interest to you. You may find it useful in planning for next year’s production.  Cultural Facts 1. Mercury and many of its components emit vapors that are toxic to plant growth. Zimmerman and Crocker in 1934 reported that roses are extremely susceptible to injury from vapors containing mercury. In their findings they showed that mercury-containing insecticides, fungicides, broken thermometers and paints caused problems (Zimmerman Hitchcock, 1956; Butterfield, 1954). The use of paint […]

Read More

July 2, 2008

Ravin’ Traven: Finding Long-Term Solutions

Each week, wholesale grower Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania sends out an engaging and highly opinionated rant to his garden center customers along with the most current availability, order forms and pictures of plants in the greenhouse. Here is his most recent rant, written after two weeks on the road at various industry events. June 24–Searching For Long-Term Solutions From what we hear going on all over the place right now, it reminds me of the music they always play when the emperor and Darth Vader appear in Star Wars–”Dump, dump, dump, dump da-dump”. We’ve heard of growers tossing ACRES of decent material. Is this some weird alignment of the economic planets, some basic flaw in the economic model of our industry, a response to gas prices and consumer fear? Do we just have the WRONG product? For sure, I don’t have an easy solution, but we’d […]

Read More

July 2, 2008

Vandals Strike Nursery, Cause $1 Million In Damages

Clear Zone Nursery, a wholesale nursery located in Alexandria, La., suffered devastating and intentional destruction June 22. Vandals set fire to more than $250,000 worth of planting pots, and they bulldozed 10 greenhouses, several acres of container plants and, most importantly, irrigation pipes, well and pumps. Due to the damage sustained at the nursery, it is believed that Clear Zone was targeted and not a random act of vandalism. “The water system was strategically and specifically targeted and taken out, so whoever was involved knew just what they were doing,” says Jay Pearson, majority owner of Clear Zone. “They knew exactly where to find the wells and the pumps in the dark.” The total cost of damage to the nursery is still being assessed, but it is expected to reach more than $1 million. Nobody has been arrested just yet, and a motive behind the act is still unknown. Authorities […]

Read More

June 25, 2008

Acres Of Imagination In Oregon

A hobbit house, a weird plants display and the “pot people” are among the recent additions to the Oregon Garden’s Children’s Garden, which offers its kid visitors plenty of opportunity to laugh, play and enjoy the nature around them. “Gardens aren’t just to look at,” says Jeff Pera, staff horticulturist at The Oregon Garden. “These days when I hear laughter and screaming coming from the Children’s Garden, I am assured the kids are playing on the new hobbit house.” The hobbit house, found at the center of the garden, sits atop a submerged tunnel with round door coverings, which allows children to peek in and scuttle through, if they choose. “We are also adorning the tunnel area with plants that are a bit odd in order to enhance the magic of the hobbit theme,” Pera says. The Oregon Garden began making additions to the children’s garden last fall, when it […]

Read More

June 24, 2008

Business Among Friends

The seeds of contract growing at Timberline Nursery, Hillister, Texas, were planted long ago. General Manger Victor Vasquez helped his contract growers get their starts in the floriculture industry 15 years ago. When Vasquez joined Timberline, those growers decided they’d like to continue growing for him. Timberline, live goods supplier to Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Kmart, saw the opportunity to supply niche products a volume grower can’t usually cover. "With seasonal sales, sometimes you don’t have enough product to keep your area full, so that’s how we decided to do contract growing, which we do only during the growing season, and that’s it," Vasquez explains. "We’re not obligated to maintain these places during the summer or fall." Mom and pop-type contract growers can raise crops that require more attention than a volume grower can give. The company now hires four contract growers, each located within three miles of the company’s […]

Read More

June 24, 2008

A Whole Lot Of Hot Air

“The cheapest thing to buy isn’t always the best thing to buy,” says Jim Kramer of Delta T Solutions, echoing one of the truest statements ever made. The bottom line always looms large in any investment decision, but what initially seems like the cheapest solution to your heating problem can actually be a deceptive mirage, with the true costs of your inefficient equipment lost in the heat shimmer coming off your pipes. With a background that encompasses more than 25 years in the greenhouse industry, first as a greenhouse facility manager at the University of Illinois and the last 6 years in the greenhouse heating side of the industry, now with Delta T Solutions, Kramer can see through the haze to the underlying structure of heating systems in the North American market, both as they currently stand and where he thinks they should be moving. “A lot of growers have been […]

Read More