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 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.