Success! The new owners of our greenhouse structures have succeeded in moving them to their new home a few minutes drive from here, their journey begins. The path is not as easy as one would think with one obstacle after another standing in the way, but the resolve of the new owners is noteworthy, a quality worthy of the business we've carried for the past 25 years. We are doing all we can to aid in the selection and growing of quality plants for the family interested in taking over where we left off. With hopes of being ready for the spring of 2022, the unfamiliar must become familiar, the unknown, known. We were a success 25 years in the making, let us hope it doesn't take the new owners as long.
As 2020 comes to an end, we look back on a year many would like to forget, but we value experiences whether good or bad. Experiences make memories and memories may one day be all we have.
Many know the bittersweet feeling when moving or taking a new job. Leaving familiar surroundings for an unknown future environment is both exciting and sorrowful. Deciding on retirement was difficult, although recent and ongoing events in the world may have made the decision a little more logical, it doesn't mean we took it any less lightly. We will miss the endless hours and countless steps it took to fill a greenhouse with plants worthy of our efforts. We will miss the learning experience of growing previously unfamiliar plants. We will miss our customers, sharing in many of the same experiences we are going through, perhaps not on the same scale. We will miss you!
With mounting obstacles, one typically becomes dejected, throwing up arms, admitting defeat, while others become motivated to overcome what stands in the way of achieving their goal(s). If one year ago we knew what lie ahead, store shelves would have emptied several months earlier and we would have stocked up on what we believed we needed. Almost nothing would have changed. We have trouble seeing the full picture of what lies around us in the present let alone a year in the future. And by that I mean we see things through our eyes and what we see is influenced by our experiences. Good or bad, those experiences are ever changing.
There have seemingly been few rocks so far in 2020. The foundations we rely on and expect to be there exist despite some alterations, some more than others. "Essential" is the term used on our behalf, but how can that be accurate for what is essential for one is another's refuse. We continue to struggle against others and ourselves as we live through this new normal, hoping one year from now it will be back to normal, the sooner the better.
While some parts of the country are baking in heat and smoke from wildfires, others are drowning in frequent rains and despair of what is essential to them. Some of us should be proud of the efforts we have put forth to provide for our households and the future of those outside of our circles. One place we've turned to this year is our gardens. Like the little red hen in the story we've all read when we were children, its not too late, and if our vision is 2020, we will see a better future.
Santa takes one day off after Christmas is over before preparing for the next one. We are usually so preoccupied with the glitter and excitement of the season we don't realize it is a year long effort with not only the manufacture of presents, but also the logistics on how to transport them and not to mention the change in taste and behavior of children as they grow a little older. Wooden cho-choo trains just don't cut it like they used to. Regardless of age, it is as much in the anticipation of a gift as it is in the receipt, sometimes more.
When a garden center opens for the season, it is like Christmas for one segment of the population as is hunting or fishing for another. When Christmas in May arrives, Mother Nature is Santa. That which was dormant comes to life. Flowers replace twinkling lights, green grass replaces white snow. The spirit of the season is the same.
Well, Christmas is nearly here and there are a few cho-choo trains out there, but there are also many versions of electronic games envied by many, some soon to be left by the wayside when something better comes along. With plants, there is always something new. A flower opens, goes through its cycle, a new one takes its place, changing ever so slowly yet noticeable. Despite the news, we anticipate this May will be the best Christmas ever. Merry Christmas!
If we had a crystal ball and looked into it we would see a summer of activity in our yards. The grill smoking, family members seated in lawn chairs staring at their phones, and flower pots overflowing with flowers. It would almost appear normal except we'll be constantly cautioned by the media. The season changes but the threats do not.
A threat is anything that takes us from our comfort zone. Threats are often there, undetected, ignored. Some of us will contract this virus to which the solution they will decide for part of the population is to run its course while behind the scenes labs are busy researching and developing a more scientific solution in the form of a shot to be administered. This too will result in success for some and an added risk for a small percentage. We are never without a potential threat no matter what we do.
Despite all the negativity reported in the media, they also report many positives. These are tough times for some individuals and groups. Some fold while others step up to a higher purpose. Sometimes that higher purpose is to simply to be there when needed. We hope that when the time is right, we all find our place to contribute in a positive way. We don't need a crystal ball for that.
If the unthinkable were to happen, we would have a greenhouse full of plants ready for sale and no one would come. If that happened, the ripple effect would result in disappointed homeowners and gardeners and families who love to spend precious time enjoying yards, growing vegetables, cooking with fresh herbs, and those admiring the beauty of a newly opened flower. It is times like this we are grateful for innovative ideas to come along from far sighted people who think of others above their own needs. It is too soon to know what will happen when May arrives and it is time for another greenhouse season to commence, but safety and security will always be a high priority and we are sure this will be a season we will be thinking about for years to come.
Our sights are on the 2020 season and with much of the ground work in place, we move forward only after looking back. Some new varieties were hits like the jalapeno pepper with Goliath tags, Damsel tomato, Fragrant Falls Peach Begonia, and a few others around for awhile but tried for the first time, happy we did. Others were failures, like some of the pumpkins, but our wet summer may have worked against us. Storms and high winds may have also stressed some gardens to the point of a failed season and to those I can only say "There is always next year."
Looking forward, we will again be offering numerous flower and vegetable varieties never before offered, hoping they will perform as advertised, or shall I say "Sensationalized." For savvy marketers focus on the positives while downplaying the negatives. On the plus side, we've been at this a while and can often see through the mirages. We also see a trend of more plants with resistance to blight and other diseases standing between a plant and its ability to thrive. Breeders are also focusing on bringing back tomatoes with flavor and flowers that not only look good, but smell nice, too. So lets hope our vision for next year is clear and hope to see you!
Why does an elderly man who admits to knowing nothing about flowers walk empty handed through our doors only to leave with an odd assortment of flowering plants? As a business, a greenhouse exists as a place where one purchases plants to beautify their patios and yards or fill small gardens with vegetable plants for a head start over seeds covered with dirt, but I've discovered it to be much more.
I don't need to be told by the elderly person why he is here, I can see by the teary eyes and sad smile. One can only imagine the emotion, memories long past, a flower pot filled or a garden bed planted, joyously reliving a moment shared, not to be as it was.
Many times there have been squeals of delight as a familiar face is seen or a voice is recognized from an aisle over; happy reunions common and arguments rare. And it is not always about discovering the newest, fashionable plant, or the desire to find a vegetable plant worth the sunburn and mosquito bites. It is a place where the futures and the past come together. We hope you make this summer one to cherish because of a greenhouse.
We try to do better despite the weather. We try to do better despite our physical condition. We try to do better despite an apparent lack of concern by some of our suppliers. Good planning is key to many things, but success also includes luck. There is no crystal ball to gaze into with a set of instructions on what to do and when for in this business, timing is IMPORTANT.
For us, this year's season started before last year's season ended although the physical work is now. Like the attitude of a kid in a candy store allowed to choose only one, eyes wide, it' was difficult to narrow our choices on what to grow and I believe I failed having too many of this and too many of that and who's going to take care of it and where are we going to put it?
When we bite off more than we can chew, the operative word is RELAX. If concern leads to action, fine. Worry may get me up at 4am, but when it has to do with trying to do better, I accept. We live in an imperfect world and I don't do everything perfect, but sometimes all it has to be is good enough especially when like our plants, we grow. We hope to help you grow this year as well.
When I think of the 2018 gardening season, two things come to mind: A mid April snow event which dumped up to 30" of snow on central Wisconsin, putting at risk an early start to summer, and an above average year for a garden, but not without effort.
We not only plant a garden for the joy we get from sharing fresh vegetables with children and grandchildren, we also trial varieties so we can share first hand information with our customers. Admittedly, a garden is more work than I want to exert, but like many things, you get out what you put in. And this year was no exception.
The late snow delayed grass growth and field work, adding several days worth of feed costs for livestock owners, but it didn't do much to delay greenhouse cultivated plants grown in a controlled climate. Except for a few anxious moments of not knowing if the snow would linger into May, flowers bloomed, the soil warmed, the grass turned green, and except for a mid May touch of isolated frost, summer was off to a fast and feverish start with record high temperatures Memorial Day weekend. With a sometimes too frequent watering, young plants grew to maturity, producing abundantly. September, like the trend over the last decade or two, saw temperatures favor an extended growing season. Tomatoes, peppers and squash kept coming. Melons ripened. And when one had had enough, another gardening season was in the rear view.
Bring on 2019. Over the past few seasons we've made an effort to move in the direction of growing varieties with disease resistance bred into them; these are not GMO or genetically modified. Through selective breeding, a process where a variety is restricted to predetermined parents and selected from individuals showing desirable traits, we get pumpkin and squash varieties which are free of powdery mildew without the use of fungicides. And for the first time in 2019, we will see an impatien series resistant to downy mildew, the disease which causes a once beautiful bed of color turn almost overnight into a bed of unsightly blossomless and leafless sticks. If this happened to you, we have the solution.
Every year is different. Not everything available in 2018 will be available in 2019, but hopefully we will offer something better. I cannot begin to guess at how many new or improved varieties were available this year, many not living up to their hype, but be sure some will be the wave (as in Wave Petunia) of the future.
SFA Greenhouse will attempt to maintain this blog and keep everyone up to date with activities in the greenhouse.