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Growing in the Vortex - part 2

North America under the spell of the cold

With extreme the cold holding on, not only maintaining the temperatures inside the greenhouse is a challenge, continuing cultivation is too. With growers preparing for spring, many should be planting, but shipping the cuttings to the greenhouse worries some. Growers update us today again on how they keep on growing with the cold going on.


At vegetable growers Gotham Greens the team ran outside to do this little experiment - and afterwards they ran quickly back into the warm greenhouse. Check out the video on their Instagram. 


Supplying the cuttings
"The upper Midwest has been at about -35 C the last few days and that is where the biggest problem is. We are -20 C at 7:00 yesterday morning", says Doug Cole D.S. Cole growers, who grows ornamental finished and young plants in Loudon (NH).

At D.S. Cole, they are set up for the current cold. "We have plenty of boiler capacity and 2 layers of screens in our roof. We also cover our gable vents in the winter with a double layer of poly that has air in between. Some days it is tough for our staff to all get to work due to snow and low temperatures." 

Where the cold really affects the company is that they are a young plant company and that they need to ship throughout the country. "Each week during the winter we evaluate the temperatures throughout the country and make our best estimate as to where we are able to ship safely and what method to use that will be safe."

And finding out the best and safest way to ship the cuttings is important during this time of the year, when growers are preparing for spring. At Mill Creek Gardens in Marshfield (WI) for example, they're supposed to be planting the cuttings now, but those are stuck on the road. "Those are on a truck that broke down near Madison ", owner Danielle Winer told WSAW NewsChannel 7

Also at the greenhouse, they are struggling to keep their plants warm and alive during the extreme weather. 

Click here to see the video published by NewsChannel 7.

"It's the hard work loading the wood stoves every three hours through the night so this greenhouse does not drop below 72 degrees Farenheit."

Mill Creek Gardens has been gearing up for this cold for the past two weeks by making sure their heating systems work. But they told WSAW that they never know what could happen when it gets this cold. "It's scary when it gets this cold and it is not just for greenhouse growers, it's for farmers, it's for people that have no choice but to go to work and we're just praying everyone is safe and snuggled in."

First crop
Imagine starting your first crop and having your first plants being delivered whilst the worst cold of many years is taking place. That's what happened to Christ Mastronardi in Ontario. 

To him, the cold was pretty frightening. Last year, Leamington Produce bought the 7 acre greenhouse from Reid Greenhouses and his first crop was underway this week. 

"It was very cold Tuesday and Wednesday with the delivering, but all plants arrived in good shape", he states. The plants, ungrafted Touche beef tomatoes, were propagated by Roelands Plant and they take the opportunity to congratulate him on the new venture. 

"Some delays occurred Tuesday and Wednesday with the delivering - since there was a snow storm. One truck even broke down due to the cold temperature - a frozen airline occurred. But now the plants are growing, the customer is happy and the crop looks great."



Glass versus poly
The end is in sight for southern Ontario's bout with extreme cold this week, as temperatures are to improve starting today. Yesterday a total of 1292 joules of sunlight was combined with a minimum temperature of -22 degrees. Whereas glass greenhouses mostly saw no problems realising the setpoints even during the night, in poly greenhouses temperatures lowered to 18 degrees. Heating up the pipe temperature might often not be of use, since the plants are to suffer from the heath and the dry, active climate. A slightly lower temperature will do fewer damage to the crop.

Growers in glass greenhouses keep one curtain closed during the day - since the glass often is frozen, it's too cold to open and far from energy efficient to open the energy curtain. 

If somebody misses the snow, the team with Dramm sure knows how to get some more. "Not only the best spray equipment for your greenhouse, also great for making snow", they write with this video of their hydrasprayer. "Not that we really need any more snow here..."

Click here for the article on the show we published yesterday.