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!
Wow. What a year so far. The intensity of the past spring has begun to wane, but the wholesale crew has already been busy getting ready for fall. In the past 2 weeks, 25,509 pots for 9-inch mums have been filled with soil, moved to the field, placed in rows, planted with 1 plant each, fertilized, and given a tag.
2,176 more mums have been planted into 6-inch pots and another 3,120 mums into 4.5-inch pots. We have also planted 1,552 ornamental peppers into 6-inch pots, and another 3,840 into 4.5-inch pots. While that’s a LOT of plants, we’re also trying new things! This year we will have a few crops of sunflowers; the first crop of 10-inch pots and 7-inch pots (just over 100 pots of each) were planted this week.
While the planting is going on, we are also still sticking cuttings for shipment to Ball Seed customers. Our largest shipment was 30,000 mums to a customer in Hopkinsville, Kentucky last month. And this week we shipped out our first crop of poinsettias to Illinois. It’s hard to believe that we’re already thinking of the holiday season.
Our fall and winter catalog is now available online – check out our online pdf here. Now’s the perfect time to start planning your fall plantings and holiday décor!
Summer is officially over and we are running full blast into fall. After various setbacks with soil delivery delays and machinery breaking down, the last of the 6″ pansies and violas were finally planted last Saturday.
More than 200,000 6″ pots, and 500,000 4″ pots have been planted by our crew. Already the first crops are looking fabulous and they are shipping out to customers from Delaware to Pennsylvania to Virginia to DC and across Maryland.
Even before the last pansies were planted, the crew had begun work on spacing out the large poinsettias. The 8″ and 10″ poinsettias had been kept in close quarters for the last few weeks to facilitate watering and pinching back. Now that they are really starting to grow, they need more space. All of Greenhouse 20 will be used to accommodate the large poinsettias. Each potted plant is set on an inverted black pot that gives it a little height off the ground to promote a little more air circulation. Each pot is spaced at very specific measurements – in all directions – to allow the maximum number of plants and still be given adequate spacing. After the plants are moved and set, irrigation lines are run and inserted into every pot.
Although we grow many of our wholesale products, there are some items we ship in. In the spring, it is the tropicals – the hibiscus, mandevilla, various palm trees, and more. In the fall, it is evergreens and other shrubs. Yuccas, boxwoods, and a few thujas arrived a few weeks ago. Today our largest fall order arrived from Oregon. More than 1100 items, from 1 gallon to 15 gallons showed up in a big 18-wheeler. It took more than 90 minutes to get those items offloaded with at least 10 people helping move material. All by hand. One at a time.
This week, 4,600 4.5″ and 5,000 6″ poinsettias have been trimmed. The 8″ and 10″ poinsettias are showing lots of new growth after their trimming.
Mums are shipping out – 2,641 mums are being delivered tomorrow; 2,486 are going to one customer alone.
Our team member Silvia has been making beautiful combo pots with a mixture of fall annuals with lots of colors.
2,000 kale have been planted in 4.5″ pots.
In the last 4 weeks, we have received 1,174,080 pansy/viola plugs. In a perfect world, we would have had everything planted by now, but delays due to soil machines breaking down, late deliveries of soil, and having all the pots have put us a little behind.
The majority of the 6in pots and trays arrived in July, but we found out 2 weeks ago that 40% of the trays had been back-ordered until November. We managed to track down some additional trays and pots – later in the season we will have some 6in pansies and violas in 6 count trays instead of 8 count trays. But we did get them!
80% of the 4in pots have been planted. About 68% of the 6in have been planted. Currently, there are 98 carts each with 40 trays of newly planted pots in our greenhouse waiting to be set down. This week the crew will be working hard to get the last 250,000 plants into their respective pots.
We hope to see some of the first crops of 4″ pansies ship to the stores this week.
The last 2 weeks in wholesale may not have had the feeling of urgency we normally experience, but there was still lots going on. 5000 poinsettias were planted into 6.5″ pots, 4000 poinsettias were planted into 4.5″ pots, and another 1125 poinsettias were planted into hanging baskets (there are only 125 baskets, but each one takes 9 poinsettia plants). And finally – every pot is appropriately tagged.
Additionally, 2800 6″ pots of mums and 4000 4.5″ pots of mums were spaced and separated to allow them additional room to grow. Each tray now has half the number of pots they normally carry – every other space is empty. 9″ pots for kale/cabbage were filled with soil and set out along the big production field. So far over 3000 pots are prepped and ready – but that is less than half of what will be needed for the plugs arriving this week.
Pots have also been getting prepped for pansy/viola planting. Right now there are 28 pallets of 4in pots stacked in trays in the production area. Each pallet has approximately 160 trays – giving us over 80,000 pots ready to go. However, we will need more than 110,000 pots for the first round of plugs arriving this week.
While greenhouses and the production area get cleaned and prepped for the fall planting about to start, the crew is still pulling landscape orders every day and shipping items to the stores. And there is always the watering to do.
We occasionally get asked when the “slow” season is for wholesale. After 20 years, we’re still wondering just when we might get a slow season……