The Great Outdoors


(A Geranium/Pansy Story)

During the recent Blizzard of 2011 it struck me that it might be a good idea to melt the fast falling, heavy snow off of the greenhouse roofs before they collapse, as many news stories were reporting on The Weather Channel. So on Monday night around 10:30 PM while the snow was falling at a very fast pace, I simply turned on all of the heaters in the greenhouses, even the empty ones. This is a costly venture but preventing the fragile plastic roofs from tearing makes it worth the cost. I continued to heat those greenhouses for three nights in a row…it worked.

My grandkids were home from school for a couple of days during this snow storm so it occurred to me that while the greenhouses are running warm, why not fill several thousand pots with soil in preparation for planting the thousands of geraniums and pansies that will be arriving mid-February…and so we did. I called my mother-in-law to come in and help out, and of course she jumped at the chance to get out of the house during the storm. We all talked about how nice it was to have electricity and heat, unlike the time of the ice storm years ago when the whole family pitched in and wrapped hundreds of poinsettias, getting them ready for churches on Christmas weekend. It was so cold in the greenhouses at that time. The generator could only maintain a temperature of 45 degrees so we took the wrapped poinsettias to my mothers’ house where it was warm.

Spring season is still (or only) “officially” six weeks away and planting season starts in about ten weeks. We are excited to be getting to plant those geranium cuttings soon and as far as the pansies go, this will be our first time to plant them this early. We had a lot of trouble getting pansies shipped in last year. Every time we tried, something was wrong. We went for half-grown starts but they were not available when we needed them. Later we tried to get pansies that were already grown but they were not in bloom. In fact, they never did come into bloom until mid to late May. By then the weather was warm and everybody wanted plants other than pansies. So this is why we are growing our own pansies this year.

Soon after Valentines Day we will be in those unheated greenhouses filling thousands and thousands of pots in preparation for all of the seedlings that will be arriving the first of March. With all of the snow that we have had this winter, it will take a miracle to keep us from flooding. But life goes on and you have to keep plugging away as if all will be fine. Only time will tell.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer