Greenhouse Growing Goes Electronic With Online Tools And Education

Figure 1. e-GRO University allows you to watch pre-recorded lectures on greenhouse production topics when it is convenient for you.

The world around us is moving faster and faster everyday. Just think of what you can do with your phone these days. Talk, surf the web, check eMail, snap photos, shoot video, play games — the list grows everyday. In this article, I will cover some of the ways that growers can harness this fast-paced world and the technologies that go with it.
Do any of these describe you?

1) You went to college to learn to be a grower, but clothes styles have changed at least twice since you graduated.

2) You never went to college but you’ve been working in a greenhouse for years and learned with dirt under your fingernails.

3) You just got into this industry and are feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to learn.
Regardless of your level of expertise, many of us find it necessary to go back to the basics and re-learn, review or learn them for the first time. It makes us better growers when we do. The problem is that it usually isn’t easy, no matter how strong your motivation is. We pick up great information at educational programs and in magazine articles but it might be months before we get to apply the knowledge to grow a crop. It can also be difficult to see how it fits into the “big picture” of growing in a greenhouse. We get so focused on the topic being discussed that we lose sight of everything else that is happening around that topic.

E-GRO University Offers Free Education On Multiple Topics
Recently a new offering was added to the resources available at the website e-gro.org. It is called e-GRO University. This is a unique opportunity for seasoned growers to brush up on the basics or for a new grower to learn basic concepts and techniques from the comfort of their own office, or even from their living room sofa with their tablet in hand.

Six university faculty (Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University; Kim Williams, Kansas State University; Brian Whipker, North Carolina State University; Margery Daughtrey, Cornell University; Roberto Lopez, Purdue University; and Brian Krug, the University of New Hampshire) joined forces to develop this introductory greenhouse production course.

e-GRO University consists of dozens of lectures on topics in five categories: Greenhouse Management, Growth Management, Insects and Mites, Nutrient Management and Diseases. See Table 1 for a list of all available lectures. These lectures are usually between 10 and 20 minutes in length and can be watched in any order you wish.

Maybe the best part of e-GRO University is that it is free. Thanks to support from the Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation, you can watch these videos  as much as you want, completely free of charge. e-GRO University tries to give you the experience of being in a classroom without making you step foot on campus. In addition to hearing the speaker and seeing a high-resolution copy of the presentation, you also get to see video of the lecture, and you can even download the slide set of the lectures.

FloriCAST: Greenhouse Education Five Minutes At A Time
You may already be familiar with FloriCAST, an educational video series hosted by Greenhouse Grower that covers various greenhouse production topics in five minutes or less. Over the past four years, there have been more than 200 FloriCAST episodes that cover basic and in-depth topics.

This year, FloriCAST episodes have been contributed by 11 university researchers on subjects including annual and perennial production, pest and disease control and nutrient management. Upcoming episodes cover subjects such as biological control of thrips, and PGRs for growth management of herbaceous perennials.

Growers can have episodes of FloriCAST delivered to their inboxes every week by subscribing to Greenhouse Grower’s Benchrunner eNewsletter at GreenhouseGrower.com/subscribe.You can also browse previous episodes of FloriCAST in the Video section at GreenhouseGrower.com/video.

Online Calculators Save Time
There are several mobile apps and web apps available to make your life as a grower easier and to help you get the job done faster. PGR MixMaster, from the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, and Plant Growth Regulator, by OHP, are mobile apps that will assist in calculating PGR dilutions. OHP’s calculator is available for the iPhone. It has the ability to calculate dilutions for its PGR products and provides product information for each.
PGR MixMaster will calculate dilutions for almost all of the major PGRs on the market and is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

How would you like to carry a library of references with you wherever you go in the greenhouse? Having the internet at your fingertips is nothing new, but this app lets you take it a step further. John Dole at North Carolina State University has created a database of greenhouse-related articles from scientific literature, trade and association magazines/websites. This database, Floriculture InfoSearch, has decades worth of material, and is easily searched from http://floricultureinfosearch.ces.ncsu.edu/.  

Electronic books can also expand your mobile reference library. Available on a number of mobile devices, electronic books allow you to store bookshelves worth of information in your pocket. A few that are specific to the iPad include:

  • Poinsettia: Fertility Management and Pictorial Guide to Nutrient Disorders
  • Ipomoea – Troubleshooting Guide to Disease, Insect, Nutritional, and Physiological Disorders of Ornamental Sweet Potatoes

These can be found on the iTunes Bookstore or on e-gro.org.

So whether you are early adopter or a bit of a luddite, give one more of these resources a try if you haven’t already. You may find they become a necessity in your greenhouse.

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
Latest Stories

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Do…

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

June 29, 2015

Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement

A new organization for women in horticulture plans to take on some of the industry’s toughest marketing challenges by promoting the use of flowers and plants in everyday living.

Read More
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

June 27, 2015

Perennial Plant Association Wins The 2015 Excellence In…

With its emphasis on education and its Perennial Plant Of The Year program, the Perennial Plant Association boosted the popularity of perennials and helped make it the vital category it is.

Read More
Carol Miller

June 25, 2015

Anatomy Of How A Garden Retail Business Deal Is Made

For the regional chain SummerWinds, a clear-eyed assessment of suppliers is needed for both to succeed in a competitive market.

Read More
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

June 25, 2015

Perennial Plant Association Names Six Scholarship Winne…

The Perennial Plant Association awards six scholarships for horticulture students to attend its July perennial plant symposium, plus a stipend of $1,000.

Read More
baker creative

June 23, 2015

Baker Creative Wins International Award For Work With J…

Baker Creative, a local branding agency, was recently selected as a Gold Award winner for the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals’ 2015 Hermes Creative Awards. Baker Creative won in the Advertising/Direct Mail Piece category for creating a factory opening invitation mailer for Jiffy Group . Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional and emerging media. The Hermes Gold Award is presented to those entries judged to exceed the high standards of the industry norm. Only 22 percent of the entrants received the award. “When Jiffy needed to make a splash to draw attention to the opening of its new substrate facility in West Bridgewater, Mass., we turned to Baker Creative. The video card created by Baker Creative assisted us greatly with getting the much needed attention when inviting professional growers to the official opening,” a Jiffy Group […]

Read More
AmericanHort_HortScholars

June 23, 2015

AmericanHort Announces 2015 HortScholars

AmericanHort has selected six students from across the country to serve as this year’s HortScholars. This rigorous, competitive application process identifies some of the industry’s brightest professionals and helps to launch their careers in horticulture by providing education and networking opportunities. The goal of the HortScholars program is to provide students with an enriching professional development experience that increases their knowledge, industry awareness and career enthusiasm. 2015 HortScholars: • Sarah Leach Smith, University of Delaware • Bobby Nance, Virginia Tech • Madeline Olberg, Purdue University • Nick Sobecki, Ohio University • Emily Teng, University of Hawaii • William Yoho Jr,, Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute HortScholars will be on-site at Cultivate’15 (July 11-14 in Columbus, Ohio) and receive complimentary Cultivate registration, lodging and meals. Additionally, they will receive a complimentary one-year AmericanHort membership. On-site at Cultivate’15, HortScholars will assist the Generation Next Community with events, conduct presentations that share […]

Read More
Michigan State University’s Bailey GREENhouse Sells Produce And Tea To Campus Dining Facilities

June 20, 2015

Michigan State University’s Bailey GREENhouse Sells Pro…

A greenhouse operated primarily by Michigan State University (MSU) students has begun exploring new crops, including herbs, to produce a line of tea. The Bailey GREENhouse, completed in 2012, gives students from MSU’s Residential Initiative for the Study of the Environment (RISE) the opportunity to experience hands-on learning about organic growing methods, composting and the food cycle. The greenhouse, which was built in partnership with Residential and Hospitality Services, the Department of Community Sustainability, RISE and the Student Organic Farm, is a passive solar hoop house intended for the production of certified organic culinary herbs and salad mixes. Students plant, grow and harvest herbs and microgreens using soil from university composts. All of the produce is certified organic, and is sold to MSU dining facilities, including Brody Square, The Gallery at Snyder and Phillips Halls, the McDonel test kitchen and the Kellogg Center Hotel & Conference Center. The new tea line […]

Read More
peggy_michael_leider

June 19, 2015

American Floral Endowment Memorial Tribute Established …

Past American Floral Endowment (AFE) Chairman Jim Leider suffered the losses of his wife and son this year, first with the death of Peggy, who passed away on March 23, and two months later with the death of his and Peggy’s oldest son Michael, who died on May 24. Peggy succumbed to a long battle with cancer at age 76, and Michael, age 54, also passed away after a brief but painful battle with cancer. “Both Peggy and Michael have given a tremendous amount of support to the industry, side by side with Jim Leider. This is our way of honoring their legacy, by also allowing others to give back to the industry they love, in their names,” Ken and Randy Tagawa said in a joint statement. Peggy first met Leider at Cornell University, and later moved to Chicago to marry him. She was a major supporter of the family […]

Read More
Urban Gardens

June 19, 2015

Urban Gardens Feed The World On A Local Level

Growing food in small spaces and urban gardening go hand in hand, no surprise there. But the fact that there are 200 million urban farmers worldwide, supplying food to 700 million people may be a startling revelation to those who equate food production with large rural farms. According to a fact sheet report from the Food of Agriculture Organization of the United Nations entitled “Feeding Cities, The Role of Urban Agriculture,” the 700 million people urban farmers supply with produce accounts for 12 percent of the world population. Aside from the obvious benefit of helping to feed a burgeoning world population, urban farms, the newest trend in a greener future, are a source of revenue for under- or unemployed residents. They also provide on-the-job youth training and community education and shorten the journey from farm to plate. And the benefits don’t end there. Urban farms may be small, but they have […]

Read More
american-hort-logo

June 18, 2015

Introducing SHIFT: An AmericanHort Initiative

AmericanHort, along with its research affiliate the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), introduces SHIFT: An AmericanHort initiative. This innovative research project takes a hard look at the future of the industry. What was once announced as the “the future of retail” research project isn’t just about retail anymore — it’s about how the collective industry can rise to the challenge of meeting modern and future consumers’ expectations. This research demands a shift in strategies, thinking and paradigms. It forces us to think and to ask ourselves, “What if we started doing things differently?” SHIFT is the largest research initiative of its kind for the industry. The resulting data, insights and recommendations paint a clear picture of opportunity for all industry businesses to capitalize on trends and even get ahead of the curve. SHIFT is the future of consumers, the future of retail, the future of the supply chain and the future […]

Read More

June 17, 2015

Marketing Ideas You Want To See From 2015 California Sp…

Back when California Spring Trials (CAST) were still called Pack Trials, new plants were placed on growing benches in packs so attendees could see for themselves how uniformly the plants grow. It was practical and useful. Today, CAST is primarily about introducing new plants in a way that catches your imagination and convinces you that these plants are not only disease resistant, need almost no inputs, including plant growth regulators (PGRs) and have excellent timing, but also that they are plants consumers will fall in love with. In other words, marketing. Some of the breeders go a few steps further and pull together ideas and information that growers can use for their own businesses. It can be methods to connect better with their retail customers or even to help promote our industry and its great plants directly to the public. Here are some of the standouts from CAST 2015. Pacific […]

Read More
AFE young professionals council

June 17, 2015

AFE Launches Young Professionals Council

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has established the Young Professionals Council (YPC), which consists of 21- to 35-year-old students and professionals in the floral industry. YPC members will use their skills and strengths to help reach other young professionals interested in becoming leaders in the floral industry, provide guidance and feedback on AFE’s programs, and get involved in leadership and learning opportunities through AFE’s programs. “There are crucial industry challenges that need to be addressed, and the YPC is a significant program that I believe will help benefit the industry. I look forward to working with the driven young members of this group to help spread awareness of AFE and build a stronger future,” says AFE trustee and YPC board liaison Dwight Larimer. Current members include: • Tha Cha, grower at Cha Veggies • Joshua Craver, Ph.D. student at Purdue University • Eric Fernandez, director of mass markets and business […]

Read More
thermoflor

June 16, 2015

Philip Schaafsma To Represent Thermoflor In The U.S.

Philip Schaafsma is a new sales representative for Thermoflor, a company with a lot of experience building garden centers worldwide. The history of the Dutch construction company Thermoflor goes all the way back to 1877. Since then, the company has been through a lot of changes, from simple conservatories to complex glass and steel turnkey projects. With a new sales representative, Thermoflor is well equipped to service the American market. Previously, Petitti Garden Center (Avon, Ohio), Chuck Hafner (Syracuse, N.Y.), Jacob’s Garden (Ottowa Lake, Mich.), Hicks Nurseries (Westbury, N.Y.) and Holes (Alberta, Ca.) were all built by Thermoflor. After a period of absence, the company is now  represented in the U.S. and Canada by Schaafsma, who has more than 40 years of experience in retail lawn and garden, greenhouse growing and the floral industry, and is a former board member of the Garden Centers of America. Schaafsma is the former owner […]

Read More

June 15, 2015

Hortica Insurance To Become Member Of Sentry Insurance …

Upon completion and approval of an affiliation agreement, Hortica Insurance (Florists' Mutual Insurance Company) will become a member of the Sentry Insurance Group, based in Stevens Point, Wis. As a member of the Sentry Insurance Group, Hortica keeps its name and brand and will continue doing business from its current headquarters in Edwardsville, Ill.

Read More
growing for futures logo

June 15, 2015

National Garden Bureau To Offer Grants To Therapeutic G…

National Garden Bureau (NGB) will grant $10,000 this fall to be split among three therapeutic gardens in North America as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness of horticulture and support the benefits of gardening. After fundraising for a vocational therapeutic garden in Chicago last year, NGB is expanding its support of gardens that promote the health and healing powers of human interaction with plants. Beginning this month, NGB will begin accepting applications from therapeutic gardens that meet the following set of criteria: 1. Have a defined program using the garden to further particular goals for participants lead by a qualified leader. Examples include horticultural therapy, occupational, physical, vocational or rehabilitation therapy in a garden setting or using gardening to promote positive social relationships within a community. 2. Offer a nature experience/interface for population served, including, but not limited to veterans, special-needs children or young adults, the elderly and/or those […]

Read More

June 10, 2015

Women In Horticulture Should Celebrate Their Difference…

Maria Costa-Smith, executive vice president at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., says she believes in equal treatment for equal work. She encourages women in horticulture to work hard, be team players, perform beyond expectations and add value to their organizations. Fulfilling Her Dreams Maria Costa-Smith grew up in the horticulture industry, and never doubted that she wanted a career in ornamental horticulture. Part of a family with a history steeped in agriculture, her grandfather, Jose Costa, was a farmer in Cuba, who sent her father, Tony Costa, to the University of Florida just before the Cuban Revolution to study agriculture. When the family uprooted in 1961 and fled to the U.S., they began growing tomatoes and citrus on a 30-acre plot of land in Miami, and soon after expanded into ornamentals. Thus, Costa Farms was established. Working on the farm with her father and grandfather, Costa-Smith says she was always […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 10, 2015

Greenhouse Grower Announces 2015 Medal Of Excellence No…

On this page, everybody’s a winner, because we’re announcing Greenhouse Grower‘s 2015 Medal Of Excellence nominees for two of our three awards in breeding, the winners of our Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement and Excellence In Marketing awards and the winners of our Grower Of The Year program, who are finalists for Operation Of The Year and Head Grower Of The Year. All honors will be presented during Greenhouse Grower’s prestigious Evening Of Excellence on Monday, July 13, during Cultivate’15. We hope we will see you there! Correction: Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ was bred by Kieft Seed, not Darwin Perennials, as we mistakenly printed in the June 2015 issue. Medal Of Excellence Watch Benchrunner in the coming weeks to read profiles of our Industry Achievement and Excellence In Marketing award winners, and look for these articles in our July 2015 issue. Industry Achievement Award The Kientzler Group Excellence In Marketing Perennial […]

Read More