Last week my dad and I headed down to the Harrisburg/Lancaster area, where we spent two days visiting garden centers, buying cool plants, and visiting the Landisville field trials. Good times!!
I never really get out much to other greenhouses, so it’s always fun when I do. And educational. There were some things we saw that we could improve on, and as many things that I felt we were doing better. No greenhouse is ever quite perfect, or excelling at every aspect of the business. One big difference I noticed was that these places were getting deliveries of plants grown elsewhere, so it made it easier for them to have small amounts of things that looked really fresh and good. We’re really proud that we grow our own plants, but at this point in the year it’s harder to keep things fertilized and watered (as the slow-release fertilizer and water-holding gel in the soil mix have been used up), or to anticipate what we’ll need more of in time to grow it in batches. Dad and I spent the better part of two days debating how to improve on our displays, landscaping, and selection of non-plant items (like pots, fertilizers, garden tools, and statuary).
This was the first time I went to the field trials, and it was awesome. We missed the Field Day, so it was nice and quiet. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s a trial garden grown by Penn State with the intent “to provide commercial plant growers, plant breeders and the gardening public with unbiased evaluations of cultivar performance in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States by testing new and established flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants.” They plant samples from different breeders, and you get to look at them and then grade them. My dad goes every year because it helps a lot with ordering during the winter– it’s easy for the breeders to select one good picture for their catalogs, and hard to then tell if the plant is going to consistently be as nice as the picture, or how big it gets, etc. Seeing them in person and taking notes/pictures makes a big difference.
We’re trying a little harder this year to propagate our own plants for next year, rather than buying in as many unrooted cuttings or rooted starter plugs this winter. I’m setting aside herbs for stock plants for this, and potting up some of this year’s leftover plugs. One of the hard parts about ordering every year is balancing having variety with anticipating demand. When I buy unrooted cuttings, they come in increments of 100 (or 200, for thyme). It’s hard to rationalize buying 100 of something that I know I might not sell much of. That’s one perk of some of these stock plants– I can take as many or as few cuttings as I need. The other benefit is having a stock plant of something I can’t buy cuttings of– some varieties can be hard to find, or might come from a supplier that we don’t deal with or who doesn’t have enough of a selection to warrant ordering from.
Dad and I rounded up a great selection of succulents on our trip, and I got some cool new herbs for next year!
So yeah! It was a busy, tiring, exciting adventure.
More updates to come. I’m in the process of rearranging and paring down the herb section. There’s still a great selection available, and we’ve got mums coming along as well. I’m off to update the variety list, that poor neglected creature.