February 4, 2014

Greenhouse Visit: C Raker and Sons

I had the opportunity (i.e. they needed an extra driver) to go on a greenhouse tour with one of our undergraduate horticulture classes last week. I have been to Rakers Greenhouse many times before and I've gone on at least three other tours there, but somehow I still learned lots of new things. Our tour guides were excellent and were able to answer all of the questions the students had.

This particular greenhouse specializes in "young plants", meaning that they sell plugs (tiny rooted plants) that are only a handful of weeks old. They are then shipped to other greenhouses where they are transplanted and grown to full size.

It's always nice to be inside a nice warm and humid greenhouse on a cold winter day.

We also got to pick out some material for the class to bring back to campus and pot up. This greenhouse dumps all their excess (overgrown/unmarketable) stock each Thursday and they generously offer it to nonprofit groups and for educational purposes. I've been hearing about these mythic 'Raker's Dump Days' for years now and I finally got to go. The students got some cool plants and I was able to grab a few trays of perennials for our perennial manager and some trays for the annual gardens too.

They had a pretty neat section devoted just to succulents. Unfortunately, they are slow-growing and therefore unlikely to end up in the dump pile.

 Most everything they sell is shipped before it's even in bloom, so it was odd to see this bench of flowering plants. However, they explained that due to the frigid temperatures, they have not been able to ship anything for almost three weeks! That means they have been holding much of their inventory longer than they would normally. Hopefully this cold snap breaks soon enough that they can ship...or else they're going to be dumping a ton of plant material!

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