Sunday, September 30, 2012

Greenhouse blessings

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 In 1993, when we moved to this property, one of the first things we did after the house remodeling, was to erect a greenhouse to utilize in our hybridizing program. For several years we did all of our hybridizing in the greenhouse and started seeds in the fall to transplant outside in the spring for blooming in two years. That was when we were growing about 5,000 seedlings per year. The last couple of years, because of age and physical limitations, we have cut down to about 1,200 seedlings each year. These seedlings are started from seed in August and transplanted to trade one gallon pots in September. They are grown over the winter, along with our hybridizing plants in the greenhouse and they will begin blooming in March, April and May. I would estimate that we will have about 60% to 70% bloom in nine months. One of the advantages of having them bloom in the greenhouse in 9 months is that I can use them immediately for hybridizing, thus gaining one or two years.

As these seedlings bloom in the spring, I select the ones I want to keep and transplant them outside into my "display beds", where they will reside until selected for introduction or are discarded to the compost heap. What happens to the potted seedlings in the greenhouse. The last two years, I gave them to the City of Chattanooga and to Hamilton County Parks and Recreation for planting in the parks. I realized that about 40% of these seedlings I have never gotten to see bloom, so this year, I built frames outside and lined them with plastic and will grow all of these potted seedlings in water beds over winter. Next spring, I will get to see them bloom and make any more selections that I may want. The others will be sold to "walk in" traffic.

This year, 2012, I began transplanting seedlings to trade one gallon pots on September 9 and will finish on Tuesday, October 2nd.

These are the seedlings I have been transplanting to trade one gallon pots. These were started from seed in the greenhouse in August 2012.

When they are transplanted, they will be grown in the greenhouse on benches prepared with a frame, lined in plastic, and filled with water. The seedlings grow in these water beds until put outside after blooming in the spring.
These are typical seedlings that are being transplanted. If you will go back a page or two on this blog, you will see how they are started and grown. They are nicely rooted for 6-week old seedlings.
I prepare 7 pots at a time, because that is how many will fit in 1 row in the water beds. The pots are filled with Morton's TN Nursery Mix, a potting medium composed of composted pine bark, sand, Lime, Gypsum, Starter Fertilizer and Trace Elements.

 A seedling is transplanted and Nutricote fertilizer is added. I use 18-6-8 T-180 with minors. The 180 day release will last until the seedlings are taken outside. The fertilizer is then covered with potting mix.
In addition to the Nutricote, I top off with Milorganite to give them a safe jump start, then I sprinkle some pre-emergent weed killer and last but not least, I add some Bayer Tree & Shrub, which takes care of most of the insects, except spider mites, that bother the daylilies in the greenhouse. Specifically, it eliminates fungus gnats and thrips, two of the worst insects in the greenhouse.

This is one of benches in the greenhouse where the potted seedlings are grown. A frame of 2" X 4"s is constructed on top of the bench and a 6mil sheet of plastic is used to line the frame to hold the water. When the frame is filled with pots, the water is then added and they will grow here until taken outside after blooming in the spring.
This is the same bench after it has been filled. The bench is 4' wide and 40' long and holds 490 pots
I mentioned that as the seedlings bloom in the spring, the ones selected for further evaluation are planted outside in our display beds. This is what the seedling looks like when it is removed from the gallon pot. Remember, they have been grown in water.
Here are the outside water beds as they were being built. They are all filled now and hopefully, will grow here over the winter. Somewhere along the line, I will probably put a frowt blanket over them . . . but then again, I may just leave them open to the elements to see if they can survive in water over the winter.

I hope you have enjoyed this little journey through the greenhouse growing proceedure used here at Chattanooga Daylilies. I must give Tommy Maddox credit for "putting me on" to growing daylilies in water. It all began because of my frustration of trying to achieve consistent water coverage in the greenhouse. The water beds do the trick.

Life is very, very good.