Growing Greenhouse Vegetables: Timing The Gaps

For ornamental growers looking for a new product for the gap seasons between traditional crops, vegetables can make a lot of sense. Many of the necessary structures, equipment and techniques are familiar. But there is plenty to learn as well, from nutrition to irrigation strategies to variety selection — a lot of which revolves around timing.

We talked with Paul Gallione of Johnny’s Selected Seeds to learn more about the steps he recommends for growers getting started in vegetable production.
 
GG: A lot of the details for adding a crop like vegetables are obviously going to vary for every grower and his own situation. How does timing impact these decisions?

Gallione: There’s more to it than just saying, “OK, I’m an ornamental grower and my greenhouse is empty and I’m going to grow vegetables.” Don’t get me wrong — there’s probably a lot of equipment, labor and infrastructure that can be utilized for vegetable production and therefore make the whole farm more profitable, because you don’t have infrastructure or equipment sitting idle. But there are some really important considerations before you jump into vegetables.
 
If you’re going to grow vegetables in the gaps between ornamental crops, it’s really important to understand the transition or gap time — how long that period is. When are the bedding plants out of the greenhouses and other structures? When can I do that transition?

If you only have two months between crops, you may only grow certain types of crops — maybe leafy greens. If you have four months or six months or even more, you could think about fruit crops.
 
GG: Are growers going to need to consider adjustments with their structures to get into vegetables between ornamental crops?

Gallione: Tomatoes are probably one of the easier fruiting crops to grow. Cucumbers and peppers may be a little more difficult just because of insect pressures and environmental concerns in terms of temperatures and such in the greenhouse.

When it comes to growing vegetables in summer temperatures, growers may want to think about either applying shading compound to the structures or utilizing a shade cloth of some sort — or increase ventilation or evaporative coolers. That’s one thing they need to be aware of, because I would have to think a lot of your bedding plant growers don’t grow things through the summer unless it’s a fall crop of mums or something, and a lot of that is only started in August. They may be used to having three months with nothing in the greenhouse. And those are the three months that we have our most intense sunlight and the longest duration of sunlight.

In a lot of crops, tomatoes for example, pollen can be damaged over 90°F. You can have fruiting issues. Same thing with peppers — you can have blossom drop. Cucumbers can take a little more heat but then there are some insect concerns there.

Also, unfortunately, some of the shorter season crops like lettuce and spinach will not tolerate those hot temperatures growers may find. But something like lettuce or spinach could be a fall crop.

GG: Are there pest issues in moving back and forth from ornamentals to vegetables?

Gallione: That’s one thing that’s really important when you’re growing multiple crops in the greenhouse or any kind of structure. Your Greenhouse Grower readers are making money from selling ornamental bedding plants. The last thing they want to do is jeopardize that.

If a grower is growing a fall/winter crop, they want to make sure that every bit of green matter is out of that greenhouse or structure for at least two weeks before starting the next crop to eliminate what we would call the green bridge. That’s a situation where a disease or an insect is able to survive to get to that next crop.

Say, for example, you have a winter lettuce crop and unfortunately that lettuce crop has two-spotted spider mite. If you’re not considering the timing, you may not get the lettuce out of there when it’s done and leave enough time before you plant your crop of bedding plants. All of a sudden, you’re noticing your bedding plants are going down hard from two-spotted spider mite.

So you have to pay close attention to the timing and eliminate that green bridge. That’s an important consideration.

GG: Are there differences in marketing ornamentals and vegetables growers need to consider?

Gallione: It is different. The most disappointing thing a grower can face is not losing a crop, but having a bumper crop and not being able to get rid of it. So, right from the get-go, you have to think about marketing. Where’s this product going to go?

[Before you start] there has to be some market research and some thought put into the process to determine what vegetables you have a demand for and how you are going to market those vegetables.

It happened to me because I’m a part-time grower with fresh market vegetables, along with my role at Johnny’s. And it’s really discouraging when you put the time and effort and resources into producing a crop and then you can barely give it away.

It’s one thing if you’re not really concerned about the return but your readership is definitely going to be concerned about that. I’m sure they could find other things that are more enjoyable to keep busy if they’re going to lose money at it.

GG: Have you seen any cool examples of ornamental growers making use of their space for a vegetable crop?

Gallione: I read a story about a bedding plant grower in Connecticut that had taken one of their tunnels, and instead of hanging baskets with fuchsia or petunias — because they’re all done at that point in the season — they filled up hanging baskets with cucumbers. They grew cucumbers in a vertical method. But instead of the way most vegetable growers would plant cucumbers in the ground with trellises going upward, they put them in hanging baskets and let gravity help out with the trellis. And that worked out really nicely for them from what I understand.

I believe they had a retail operation so they were easily able to incorporate that extra product. Here they were, taking a structure that was not in production and bringing in money.

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Bill Lewis grower manager at Delray Plants

August 31, 2015

Delray Plants Takes Preventative Approach To Pest Control With Biological Controls

The 300-acre nursery in Venus, Fla., has made biologicals its first line of control when dealing with pests.

Read More
Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation logo

August 31, 2015

Gloeckner Foundation Awards 15 Research Grants

The Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation recently awarded 15 grants totaling $149,776. Fred C. Gloeckner had a keen interest and firm resolve to facilitate innovation and improve practices in floriculture. It was this vision that inspired him to start The Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation, Inc. 55 years ago. Since the foundation’s inception, more than 66 institutions have been awarded grants for this purpose, and the foundation’s support of floriculture research has totaled $6,525,642. The following grants were recently awarded: $14,000 – Kansas State University, to study the effect of the entomopathogenic fungus, Beauveria bassiana and the rove beetle, Dalotia coriaria, in suppressing populations of the western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis $12,264 – North Carolina State University, for expanding leaf tissue nutritional standards in bedding plants $12,000 – University of Florida, to illuminate Lilium floral fragrance $11,842 – Stephen F. Austin State University, for its herbaceous perennial species trial garden $10,000 – Iowa […]

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

August 27, 2015

The Perennial Plant Association’s Regional Symposium Will Be This October In Dallas

The Perennial Plant Association plans to hold its Regional Symposium October 5 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the All-America Selections/Home Garden Seed Association's Summer/Fall Summit held October 5 to 8.

Read More
Latest Stories
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More
AmericanHort logo

August 20, 2015

David Savoia To Serve As AmericanHort’s Interim P…

Following Michael Geary’s announcement that he has resigned as president and CEO of AmericanHort, the association has announced that CFO and Senior Vice President for Operations David Savoia will serve as interim president and CEO while the board conducts a search for a new staff executive. Craig Regelbrugge, the senior vice president for advocacy and research, will support Savoia with the association’s external affairs. Geary announced August 12  that he will be leaving his position after September 30 to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” Geary said in an eMail. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me […]

Read More
Janeen Wright

August 19, 2015

Why A Step Backward Can Propel Your Greenhouse Business…

Taking a step backward to reflect on the past and plan for the future helps you confidently move your growing operation forward from a position of power.

Read More
Geary-Michael

August 18, 2015

Michael Geary Is Leaving AmericanHort

AmericanHort president and CEO Michael Geary announced last Wednesday that he will be leaving his position at the end of September to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. “I am writing to share with you that on October 8 I will begin a new professional chapter as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries,” Geary said in an email. His last day with AmericanHort will be Sept. 30, 2015. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” he said. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me to be closer to my family and aging parents and to re-engage with another industry […]

Read More

August 15, 2015

Ball Horticultural Co. Buys Conard-Pyle/Star Roses And …

Ball Horticultural Co. plans to add Conard-Pyle/Star Roses and Plants to its family of breeding and distribution companies, according to a press release dated August 14, which announced the company’s recent acquisition of the famous introducer of Knock Out Roses and other perennials and woody plants to the market. Ball plans to capitalize on the expertise of its Ball Ornamentals woody ornamentals division, as well as Conard-Pyle’s market-leading position as a top rose breeder to strengthen its product line. The sale is scheduled to close by the end of September 2015. Conard-Pyle’s in-house breeding division NovaFlora, along with its intellectual properties and the distribution, production and administration facilities of its wholesale division are also part of the acquisition. NovaFlora is the driving force behind the Star Roses and Plants brand. “Conard-Pyle has been the leader in roses in its market and has been actively diversifying its offering with other woody […]

Read More
Christina Salwitz 2014_featured

August 12, 2015

Christina Salwitz Says Women Bring A Unique Perspective…

Garden writer Christina Salwitz is a powerhouse in the industry. She is an expert container designer, works at an independent garden center and runs her own blog. Salwitz is active on social media, and she fights for the industry’s ability to stay autonomous from the big box stores. Most importantly, Salwitz stands out in a field of garden industry people as a design and color specialist who can bring something brilliant and unique to the end consumer. Her garden design business, established in 1998, started with landscaping, then evolved into container design because of increased demand for her unique and color-filled designs. Salwitz continues to work at an independent garden center in order to connect directly with the consumer. She also evolved and expanded her business by blogging, authoring books such as “Fine Foliage” with co-author Karen Chapman, and concentrating on horticultural photography. Demand grew for her work, and by March 2014 her designs were […]

Read More
3D Green Printer

August 11, 2015

3D Printers Sprout Living Designs

Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia, with a goal to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

August 7, 2015

The California Effect: 2016 Could Be A Watershed Year F…

For growers who are looking at the potential for cannabis production but are trying to get a sense for the regulatory lay of the land – know that 2016 could be a watershed year for cannabis legalization.

Read More
cannabis

August 7, 2015

Cannabis Producer Solstice Provides Insight To Greenhou…

To gain some real-world insight about what it takes to produce and sell cannabis, and some of the challenges and roadblocks involved, Greenhouse Grower reached out to Solstice, a producer and processor of cannabis for medical and adult use in Washington state. Alex Cooley, the co-founder and vice president of Solstice, gave us an exclusive interview, and answered the following questions to give greenhouse growers a glimpse into different aspects involved in cannabis production. Visit the Solstice website or follow Solstice on Twitter @SolsticeGrown for more information. Greenhouse Grower (GG): First, let’s get to know you. Could you tell us some background about Solstice and how it got started? Alex Cooley: We started Solstice in 2011 to help legitimize the medical cannabis marketplace by providing consistent, lab-tested cannabis of high quality and creating the state’s first cultivation brand. It was started by myself and two other partners, Will Denman and […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

August 7, 2015

Big Banks A Step Closer To Financing Cannabis — Or Not

A key Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill on July 23 that allows the nation's capital to establish regulated medical marijuana stores and lets banks provide financial services to state legalized marijuana dispensaries.

Read More
Roots To Re-Entry’s ornamental plant nursery donates plants to local community gardens

August 4, 2015

Roots To Re-Entry Transforms Lives

An inspired employment initiative takes green-job training behind prison walls to help inmates find jobs in urban agriculture and the landscaping industry upon their release, and along the way, it is changing lives for the better. The Roots To Re-Entry (R2R) job training program, conceived by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) and its partners, does more than teach inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System the skills they need to find meaningful employment; it also teaches them invaluable life skills. The PHS staff leads participants through a 16-week course that includes hands-on projects designed to teach them horticultural skills and provide them with training in landscape maintenance and greenhouse growing. In addition to English and math, the nonprofit Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) offers supplemental courses in health education and employment preparedness. Upon inmates’ release from prison, the FNC assists R2R graduates with the transition to life outside prison walls by […]

Read More
Burpee Home Gardens Brand Adds Flowers

July 31, 2015

4 Reasons Retailers Snub National Brands

Greenhouse Grower’s lead editor, Laura Drotleff, and I got into a debate about why garden retailers, especially independent garden centers, snub marketing efforts from breeders and growers. She was very much on the breeders’ and growers’ side, expressing frustration about how limited retailers’ vision can be on the topic. I’ve reported on the garden retail side of the industry since 1998, about the same length of time Laura has reported on growers. I’ve heard a lot of retailer views on this, so allow me to share the most common reasons why retailers decline free marketing: Costs. While the marketing materials are free, and sometimes advertising, participating in these projects usually requires minimum orders. From a grower’s perspective, the minimum orders are reasonable. If garden stores promote a plant line, they need to have enough supplies to satisfy demand. From a retail perspective, if inventory reports show a plant line can […]

Read More

July 30, 2015

Spread Your Risk Beyond Spring Sales [Opinion]

Growers who participated in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Recap Survey said they have had enough of the uncertainty that the weather brings. They said it’s time to build up sales in other seasons like fall so we’re not so dependent on spring. As a couple of wholesale growers, both from the Southeast, very eloquently stated, our industry has mastered squeezing everything we can out of the spring season. And while this year happened to be a very successful one, thanks to the improving economy and elevated consumer confidence, they said, “now is no time to celebrate.” “Spring is still Christmas in the horticulture industry, but we have done such a good job focusing on spring that we have neglected other seasons,” one grower said. “Having so many eggs in the spring basket is dangerous. Fall will never be what spring is, but having a solid second season is in […]

Read More

July 29, 2015

2015 Spring Crops Report: Rain Soaks Spring Sales

Rain, rain and more rain. That was the story this spring for the large majority of growers across the U.S. And where it wasn’t too wet, it was too dry. Drought conditions cut sales in the West and Southwest. But it wasn’t all bad. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Survey declared the season a success, despite its challenges. They said beautiful weather in April and excited consumers who were ready to spend got the season going early, but then cool temps and rainy weekends throughout May and June caused confusion over when and how much to plant. Of the 189 respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey, 53 percent identified themselves as grower-retailers, 34 percent were wholesale growers and 13 percent said they were young plant growers. Most responses came from the Midwest (27 percent), Northeast (18 percent) and Southeast (16 percent), but also […]

Read More
eMailMarketing feature image

July 23, 2015

Is eMail Dead?

Email as a marketing technique may seem outdated, but when done well, it is still an effective way to share content and market your brand.

Read More
Berns_Roberto Lopez_Purdue6

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15 Greenhouse Learning Tour Showcases G…

Growers took advantage of the Greenhouse Learning tour held Saturday, July 11 at Cultivate'15 to see the strategies and technology two successful growing operations are using to tackle production challenges and come out ahead of the game.

Read More
HGTV HOME CAST 2015

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15: Keynote Nancy Fire Says Use Passion…

In the second keynote presentation at Cultivate’15, Nancy Fire, founder and creative director of Design Works International, discussed how the horticulture industry can capitalize on the latest design and lifestyle trends. Fire works with companies to help bring their designs to the next level, and she has expertise with textiles and surface design, market analysis and corporate rebranding. She was appointed as design director for HGTV HOME in 2011. Fire says customers today are interested in companies that show passion for what they do. That, combined with following the general direction of trends and maintaining a brand, are what will keep horticulture businesses relevant to their customers. A trend isn’t just a passing fad, Fire says, but rather, it indicates that something is developing or changing in a certain direction. Plants are important to consumers today, and fit into current trends, both inside and outside the home, Fire says. “I don’t […]

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

July 21, 2015

Luxflora Launches With Cultivate Speaker Event, New Web…

A new organization for women in horticulture that aims to change the way consumers think about flowers, launched at Cultivate’15 by sponsoring Ketty Maisonrouge, a marketing expert, who presented “How To Create A Luxury Brand.” Luxflora recently launched its website, as well as a page on LinkedIn, to facilitate networking among women in horticulture. The organization is working on next steps, including setting up a board of directors and officers. Updates and information on future events will be available at the Luxflora website as they are scheduled. Read about Luxflora’s mission and what it hopes to accomplish in “Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement.” In the session during Cultivate, Ketty Maisonrouge, owner of KM & Company, adjunct professor of luxury strategy at the Columbia University Business School and the author of “The Luxury Alchemist,” presented her ideas and expertise on luxury strategy marketing, and how it applies to horticulture. […]

Read More