Ralph Ostendorf of Ostendorf Greenhouses in Cincinnati, Ohio, was one of three panelists in an education session I attended Saturday titled “Small Greenhouse Improvements For Small & Medium Growers.”
Ostendorf discussed a recent retrofit to a 60-year-old wooden greenhouse, and he offered a few tips for growers like himself:
Irrigation. Ostendorf added Netafim drippers for his hanging baskets and drip irrigation for crops like garden mums. The operation used to take all day to hand water, he says, and it would have to water all over again once it finished watering crops like poinsettias by hand. The lesson: Do away with hand watering, Ostendorf says, and look into drip irrigation.
Benching. Rolling benches were added to the 60-year-old greenhouse. The greenhouse originally had two fixed aisles, but it removed those benches and added one floating aisle that’s resulted in about 20 percent more production space.
Material handling. Ostendorf Greenhouses, of course, isn’t a large greenhouse operation. So it used to move live good material around on small hand carts that fit six trays maximum. The operation’s efficiency has improved dramatically, however, since Ostendorf invested in racks. “Don’t waste your time lugging product around,” he says.