Thursday, May 10, 2007

Greenhouse Construction Costs Rising

Every partnership must have its first argument. With the three of us, it happened sooner than later. Chuck and Bjorn were at each others’ throats with regard to the construction plans for our fourth greenhouse.

Bjorn, coming from Europe and being a traditionalist, wanted us to build an old fashioned glasshouse to house our herb-growing operation. Chuck, being a frugal man, wanted us to go the cheaper route and build an air-inflated, double layered polyethylene, Quonset-type greenhouse, the same as our other three.

Glasshouses cost a lot more to construct, but they also last longer and protect whatever you’re growing from the elements to a greater degree. Glass also lets in more light than polyethylene, although it increases your heating costs since it usually is a single layer of glass.

I threw my vote behind Chuck, not only because I’ve known him longer, but also thinking of the costs and the risky nature of branching out to grow cooking herbs. “Why don’t we grow medicinal herbs, like monks in medieval times?” I asked, only half facetiously. My question was ignored by both of them.

The argument was rekindled the next day when we received the quote from the construction company that built our previous three greenhouses. Their quote was a full 20% higher than before, essentially for the same job.

They defended their quote by pointing to the skyrocketing cost of gasoline and the corresponding price increases in steel tubing, the polyethylene covering, the boiler, cement, electric power, and labor.

Bjorn argued that since the polyhouse is now more expensive, we should reconsider glass. Another day wasted in useless argument.

I distanced myself from the two of them and occupied my time mixing up a new batch of our nutrient solution for the pak choi greenhouse. Our supply of Grow and Micro is running low, so I contacted Advanced Nutrients to get their distributor to ship us some more.

Grandma Enggy’s Humic and her Fulvic Acid we seem to have plenty of, but her Seaweed Extract has been all used up. We have to go without it until the next shipment arrives. Luckily, we still have a lot of B52, so our pak choi plants won’t have to go without vitamins.

We sprayed the pak choi with Scorpion Juice just last week, because our yellow sticky traps caught a few whiteflies. I suspected the staff of leaving the greenhouse door open. I had them tape vertical strips of plastic on the outside of the door that would keep most insects out, if the person entering was careful enough.

We use so much Barricade, that we have to keep reordering more and more. It is a very effective product, since (knock on wood) we haven’t had any bacterial, fungal, or viral infection in any of our greenhouses in a long time.

The few whiteflies that flew in got captured by the sticky traps. I told Bjorn that there used to be a really effective Advanced Nutrients product called Bug Away that they temporarily discontinued, since the government wanted them to label it an insecticide, which it isn’t.

Bjorn once again toured our other three greenhouses and was finally convinced that a polyhouse has its advantages and therefore agreed to have our fourth growing facility built just like the other three.

We sealed our newfound spirit of cooperation with a pitcher of Czech lager in our neighborhood pub.

posted by silvio @ 9:44 PM   0 comments


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