Planting, planting, planting…. Lots of that going on at the wholesale farm. Since January 1st, we have had more than 3 million plants ship into our facilities, either as unrooted cuttings (URC) or as plugs.
For the last few weeks, we have been planting the summer annuals into 4-inch, 4.5-inch, and 6-inch pots. The 4-inch and 4.5-inch pots are planted as one plant per pot – and that means a lot of pots. Lots of pots mean lots of trays. The trays and pots arrive to us packaged separately, so before planting anything, the trays have to be stacked with empty pots. That alone keeps an entire team of staff working nonstop when planting is taking place.
Once planted, the trays need a place to be set down where they can get sunlight and be watered. The Greenstreet farm is not large enough to accommodate everything we plant in the spring, so we rent space at three additional farms. After planting the plants at our own facilities, they are loaded onto carts, rolled onto the Greenstreet trucks, and shipped to these other farms. Every tray on each cart is counted before it leaves Greenstreet – varieties & colors are tracked so we know exactly which flowers are at which farm.
These last few weeks planting has been taking place 7 days a week – including this recent Easter Sunday. During these weeks of high-volume planting, the biggest challenges are running out of pots to plant into and running out of empty carts. Some days when a truck returns from delivering to a farm, our staff is already waiting for the empty carts. When that truck pulls into the loading dock the entire team pitches in for a “quick turn” – everyone lines up to pull the empty carts off the truck to get them to the planting line and get the next batch of full carts onto the truck so there is room in the loading dock to load more full carts.
At this time we have 11,019 trays at one farm in Western Maryland, another 12,321 trays at a farm in Southern Maryland, and 19,001 trays at a farm across the Bay Bridge on the Eastern Shore. Our drivers have been putting in some long hours to get these plants wherever they need to go, and in about a week or so we will reverse the process to bring them all back.
This past week, our team also make a HUGE donation to our local schools! Over a thousand Simply Salad Mix plants were donated to Lothian Elementary, Tracey’s Elementary, and Deale Elementary – students from each school were given a plant to take home & plant for themselves. We hope this will encourage some of the children in our community to start their interest in gardening young and to grow something themselves that can be enjoyed by everyone over the summer!
Summer is officially coming to a close and we’re full speed ahead with fall and winter plantings! Just a quick overview of what we’ve been planting so far of the past few weeks:
But the big fun is just getting started. Over the next four weeks, more than 1.1 million pansy/viola plugs will ship in for us to plant into 4-inch and 6-inch pots. We will ease into the chaos with just 132,720 plants arriving for planting into 4-inch pots and 804s first, and many more to follow.
Last Tuesday morning, the big “pansy field” next to our greenhouse was empty. But by the end of the day Friday it was packed with over 8,000 trays of pansy and viola pots. Almost 190,000 plants were planted into 6-inch pots, set on carts, moved to the field, and set down one at a time. This morning the crew will start on the 99,000 plants scheduled to plant into the 4-inch pots.
During this time, our team has pinched back every single poinsettia plant in the 10-inch and 8-inch pots. The 10-inch pots have 4 plants each and the 8-inch pots have 3 plants each. With 2,000 10-inch pots and 2,200 8-inch pots, that means they pinched 14,600 plants. And then they proceeded to start planting some fall combo plants to ship to stores in time for the Labor Day Weekend.
Our first crop of Sunflowers made it to the stores for this weekend. We expect to have a new crop each of the next 3 weeks. A few mums are starting to crack open, but most won’t be ready for a few weeks. We will get a few early ones out as soon as they are ready.
Fall is approaching quicker than you know! We have started on our mum production and finding the right amount of room can be a challenge! Our fall 9-inch mums were planted in one area close together to make planting, tagging, fertilizing, and watering as efficient as possible. Now those mums are getting moved and spread out in other locations on the farm to give them room to grow.
For the past 10 days, the wholesale crew has been prepping various fields around the farm: mowing the grass short, laying LOTS of black ground cover, installing pipes to run water to the irrigation lines, and running miles of black irrigation tubing. The mums then get placed on a wagon cart by hand, moved to those locations, set down by hand, and then meticulously placed under a hole in the tubing to get the drip irrigation.
The crew has been working steadily through these hot humid days. They have moved about 8,000 mums so far – almost 1/3 of the crop. This year we will have over 25,000 9in mums. 54 different varieties across 7 different colors: 5 varieties of Bronze, 10 Orange, 6 Pink, 7 Purple, 8 Red, 7 White, and 11 yellow. Different varieties will bloom at different times – based on their genetics. When they bloom will be driven by the days getting shorter and cooler. Some are categorized as early blooming – others mid-season and others late. Even if planted early or later than others – they will bloom when their genetics tells them to.
Among the early bloomers – there are many whites and yellows. Very few purples or oranges. The bronzes, reds, and oranges come strong mid-season. The late season also has more oranges and purples, along with yellows. This year we are trying a couple of new purples and oranges that should bloom earlier and a new pink and a new red that should bloom late season.
Here’s to a successful mum crop this fall season!
Mother Nature is keeping our native plants in dormancy right now, but Greenstreet Wholesale is busy growing all kinds of things. Since Jan 1st, more than a quarter of a million unrooted cuttings have shipped into Greenstreet Growers. They arrive via FedEx or UPS in small plastic baggies, 100 cuttings per bag. Our crew plants each cutting one at a time into a plug tray – this is known as “sticking” the cuttings. Most of these cuttings go into 102 plug trays – a tray with 102 cells for planting. Others will go into 50 cell plug trays. Each tray is given a label to correctly identify the variety as well as the week the plants were “stuck” and the week they will be ready to ship out or transplant. Not all plants have the same growth schedule. Many items need 4 to 5 weeks to root out in the plug tray, but some items like Duranta need 8 weeks and many Coleus only need 3 weeks to be ready.
In addition to sticking the unrooted cuttings, wholesale has transplanted over 10,550 plugs of begonias, portulaca, vinca, and a few other plants into slightly larger plug trays. Many plugs arrive in 288 or 512 trays (288 plants per 11″ x 21.5” tray or 512 plants per 11” x 21.5” tray). Most of these plugs get transplanted in 50 cell trays – 50 plugs per 11” x 21.5” tray. 3700 Canna Cannova seeds have been planted by our team into 50 cell trays. They will be transplanted to 1-gallon pots soon.
There are 19,050 geraniums sitting in our main greenhouse right now – waiting to be transplanted. They will go into hanging baskets, 8″ pots, 6″ pots, and many 4.5″ pots.
For more immediate use, more than 80,000 plugs of pansies, violas, snapdragons, and dianthus have been planted into 804 cell packs, 4″ pots, and 6″ pots. Those will be ready to arrive in the stores in early March.
1218 Hydrangeas arrived a couple of weeks ago. Our crew transplanted them into slightly larger pots and got them individually labeled.
More than 1300 perennial plugs have shipped in the last 2 weeks. The Greenstreet crew have planted some into quart containers, but most are going into 1-gallon pots. Every single one is hand-potted, labeled, and given a price sticker.
The succulent team has been very busy planting hundreds (maybe thousands?) of baby succulents – of all different shapes and colors.
January is probably the closest Wholesale comes to a “slow period”. For the next 10 weeks, the volume and the pace will continue to increase.