June 11, 2008

Going Geothermal

Mark Elzinga held nothing back when he built his four-acre organic greenhouse at Elzinga & Hoeksema in Portage, Mich. He spent money, took risks and entrusted a lot of people with the future of his operation–people like Stephen Hamstra, executive vice president at GMB, who helped design the solar-geothermal energy system that should provide 80 percent of Elzinga’s heating needs. The GMB-designed system should cut down on Elzinga’s energy costs, as well, and significantly reduce the greenhouse’s carbon footprint. “The geothermal hybrid is a new thing,” Hamstra says. “I’m not aware of a greenhouse that’s done it like this. We presented the concept in 2006 in a white paper at the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) annual meeting in Albany, N.Y., and there was a lot of favorable response.”  One Of A Kind Elzinga was among the first to take notice, and he now has an impressive solar-geothermal system […]

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June 11, 2008

Avoiding Overheating

You can block heat using expensive computer or manually operated shades or by applying colored coatings to glass. Shades are prone to operational problems and use energy. Colored coatings need to be removed to maximize light transmission after the hottest time of the year. For existing glass greenhouses, another option is to install clear, colorless window film that will block unwanted heat while allowing in desirable natural light. Once installed, such film may last up to 20 years. It does not need to be removed, does not change the appearance or visual clarity of the glass, does not need special care and will not fail to perform because of computer or mechanical malfunction. Affix it and forget it. Tinted window films do reduce heat into greenhouses, but they can also reduce a significant percentage of visible light through the glass, according to V-Kool President & CEO Marty Watts. “Most conventional […]

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June 11, 2008

Controller Savings For The Smaller Grower

Many affordable controllers add settings like DIF and night set-back. A controller does not have to be elaborate or complicated to save you money and improve your crop quality. It does not have to control every operation of the greenhouse to be effective. Replacing thermostats with a simple controller that handles only the heating and cooling will save you energy and improve your crops. Many affordable controllers add settings like DIF, night set-back, humidity control and curtain control and still stay price competitive with thermostats.  Single Temperature Reading One of the greatest cost savings that a controller produces versus thermostats is from the coordination of heats and cools from one temperature probe. It is almost universal that growers will tell you that in a greenhouse with thermostats, you will, sooner or later, get heats and cools running at the same time. This can happen when the heat thermostat is located […]

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June 11, 2008

What’s Old Is New Again

Anthura set out to build a new greenhouse that would centralize young plant production for the Anthura Plant, Anthura Microplants and Anthura Production departments. The design of the Palm house of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London was the source of the new design, which incorporates curved sidewalls and a second story. The greenhouse is being built by JM van der Hoeven B.V. under the guidance of architect Aad Bom. The construction is due to be completed by the end of 2008. The design of Anthura’s new facility is based on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which was built in 1848. Most greenhouses of the time were built near royal palaces, and many included orangeries, palm houses, in addition to botanic plant collections. The greenhouses of that period exhibited ancient examples of structural steelwork, which give the greenhouses of that era that still stand monument status. New Design While […]

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June 11, 2008

The Natural Fiber Container

For 50 years, Western Pulp Products Co. has manufactured Premium Molded Fiber Containers made from 100 percent recycled paper in the United States. This year, Western, based in Corvallis, Ore., will introduce a number of innovative new products to address the growing demand for sustainability. “Today’s consumers are looking for products that have a minimal impact on the environment, and can be considered earth-friendly or green,” says Jim Lee, Western’s marketing and sales manager. “We at Western feel that our products not only meet the demand for sustainability, but offer growers, retailers and consumers a better product to grow healthier plants.”  Go Green, Don’t Look Back Western’s containers provide for healthier plants because they let roots and soil breathe while insulating from temperature extremes. In all kinds of climates and conditions, Western’s containers look better, last longer and perform better, while helping customers differentiate their product and improve plant quality. […]

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June 11, 2008

Master Builders

While most growers got into the greenhouse business because they love to grow plants, others really take pride in building greenhouses and have dedicated employees and crews. One prime example is George Lucas of Lucas Greenhouse in Monroeville, N.J. While he and his wife founded the business with just 9,000 square feet of greenhouse about 30 years ago, today Lucas Greenhouse spans 630,000 square feet and ranks at No. 100 on our Top 100 Growers. The company has undergone three major buildouts with Nexus Greenhouse Systems since 2002 and just constructed 170,000 square feet of Dual Atrium greenhouses with a glass roof and polycarbonate sides and gables using its own crews. This summer, Lucas will be adding another 130,000 square feet. Where is all this growth coming from? Young plants. Forty percent of production is propagation and prefinished plants, and the rest is finished plants sold to independent garden centers within […]

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June 11, 2008

New Product Shorts

Unique Fungicide BioWorks: Cease fights both fungal and bacterial pathogens, and it provides plant and environmental safety with a four-hour re-entry interval. Cease controls disease using multi-site modes of action for resistance management. The National Organic Program approved Cease for use in organic production. www.bioworksinc.com Better Protection Fine Americas: “Improving Plant Quality In Annuals And Perennials With Concise” is a 44-page color guide edited by Virginia Tech’s Joyce Latimer and North Carolina State’s Brian Whipker. Michigan State Extension specialist Erik Runkle provided input for the publication, which provides guidelines on Concise applications for a variety of plants. www.fine-americas.com Plants With Style Hort Couture: The Haute Tote is a fashionable plant sleeve that has a handbag-style look. Haute Totes come in cases of 250 sleeves, and its design fits 6- to 8-inch pots. www.hortcoutureplants.com Dynamic Packaging Landmark Plastic: Thermoformed nursery trade gallon pots have in-rim tag slots, 12 large, bi-level drainage […]

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June 11, 2008

Building A New Greenhouse

So you’re thinking of building a new greenhouse? Here are some tips I’ve learned building our new propagation range in Fresno, Calif. The first thing on your list should be to create a master plan on how your structures will be laid out now and potentially in the future. This should include all utilities entering the greenhouses and any special requirements for your equipment. You might not build on your greenhouse for a while, but you should always give yourself the option of adding on in the future without any obstructions. Questions you need to address during this process: – Can the new greenhouse(s) be built on our existing property without any modifications? – Do we need to move older structures to accommodate our new greenhouses? To keep the flow of your new greenhouse, it might be better to move some of your existing structures. – What are the timelines to […]

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June 11, 2008

New Product Shorts

Filter Away Orival, Inc.: Starting at 3/4 inch and continuing up to 24 inches, Orival can provide any filtration system from 8 to 12,000 gpm. Orival, Inc. has been providing greenhouse irrigation systems for more than 20 years. Pallet Success Northwest Horticulture: The Pallet Shipper program from Northwest Horticulture is a crush-resistant packaging system that is stacked on pallets, delivering dormant trays strait to growers’ doors. The Pallet Shipper stacking system allows air to circulate through the plants during shipping. Shipping on pallets is also a more cost-effective method compared to boxes and a great option for customers placing small orders. Pallet shipper is available for orders as low as 72 trays. Speed, Muscle & Brains Wadsworth Control Systems: Wadsworth’s new 3 RPM VC 2000 Motor offers unique override protection, which stops the motor if binding or obstruction occurs. Its faster drive powers roof panels, wing vents and roll-up walls […]

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June 11, 2008

New Product Shorts

Everywhere Fungicide BASF: Pageant fungicide is labeled for use in nursery, greenhouse and landscape sites. It features a combination of new active ingredient boscalid with pyraclostrobin, giving growers one of the industry’s broadest spectrum foliar fungicides. www.betterplants.com New Plug Tray Blackmore Company: The latest addition to the Blackmore line of plug trays is the 242. Fluted cell walls are extra strong and act as a conduit for providing more oxygen to the root zone. The tray also features an oversized 3⁄8 inch diameter drain hole, angled ramp and 5⁄8 inch lip for rigidity. www.blackmoreco.com Easy Seeding Seed E-Z Seeder: The E-Z Seeder is a plug popper that takes better care of plugs while taking all the work out of dislodging them. It can be operated by placing the rooted plugs over pegged dislodger, sliding handled rods through the plug tray and placing depressor over rods and pushing down. The E-Z […]

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June 10, 2008

Irrigation Innovations

Solar-Powered Fertigation/Amiad Filtration: The Amiad Electric Fertilizer Injector (EFI) is compatible with a wide range of fertigation applications. It is programmable to deliver very precise injection rates with 2 to 5 percent accuracy. Easy to calibrate and operate, the EFI can be powered by solar panels feeding 12-volt direct current or by 110 or 220-volt AC power. For more information, call 800-969-4055 or visit www.amiad.com. Precise Injection/Chemilizer: The adjustable, non-electric CP33 injector is ideally suited for fertigation. It offers an unmatched ability to inject virtually any liquid treatment without dilution and is easily adaptable to accommodate products with different injection rates. Precisely inject fertilizers, insecticides, pH controls, algaecides, fungicides, disinfectants and sprout control agents. For more information, call 800-234-7211 or visit www.chemilizer.com. Happy Hanging Baskets/Cherry Creek Systems: The Echo System automated basket irrigation system allows for accurate measurement of water to each basket and allows fertilizer application to be consistently […]

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June 10, 2008

Meeting Irrigation Mandates

Every year, Carroll Brothers Nursery, Clearwater Fla., uses 18 million gallons of water to irrigate its 10 acres using overhead irrigation. The pricetag on that much water per year has jumped from $4,500 to $18,000 between 1991 and 2007, so owner Richard Carroll has been looking for ways to reduce cost. The goal when the gardenia grower first started searching for water alternatives was a second water source – one that would pump and clean water or one that would collect rainwater. "Either way, it was too expensive for a nurseryman to handle," Carroll says. "Knowing I couldn’t touch either of those, I was looking for a way to save water." Drought and water restrictions can cause a grower to rethink irrigation, but so can research. Looking for an irrigation method that would follow BMP practices, as well as provide consistent irrigation, Carroll Brothers did research comparing drip and overhead […]

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