Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Easy Being Green, Said the Lettuce, Ha, Ha!

Chuck decided to take a week off to get away from the construction noise. It is my turn to man the fort alone, or should I say with our new partners, Wendy and Ernie.

The owners of We Promote have convinced us that they could double our business by making our brand a household name. C and S Greens has been our company name since we first started. Get it? Chuck and Silvio Greens. But our new partners want to change it.

S and C Greens was suggested and that pleased me, since my name finally came first. But then Ernie pointed out that up on a big sign people might read it as “SandCGreens,” and sand is the very last thing you want people to think of when buying lettuce.

“I like the use of the word Greens,” said Wendy thoughtfully. “Green is the new buzzword, everyone wants to be green. But the C and S part is awkward.”

Chuck and Silvio was deemed to be too informal, Charles and Silvio, too snobbish. Chilled Greens was suggested, and I sort of liked the sound of it. But Wendy thought that it sounded not cool, but cold.

Finally we all agreed on Crisp Salad Greens, or CSG for those with abbreviated minds. I wish I could say it was my idea, but instead Chuck phoned it in while relaxing on a beach in Costa Rica.

“By the time we’re finished with this,” claimed Ernie, “CSG will mean Crisp Salad Greens and it will be etched into a million minds.” Now if they all paid three dollars for the etching process, we’d be off to a good start.

The four new Greenhouses are being built simultaneously, so there is a great deal of scurrying about and dust and noise everywhere. In the heat of summer, we had to close the vents facing the construction sites, in order to keep the dust from coming in and settling on our crops.

All this talk about the color green made me think about photosynthesis. Not that I’m a plant science wiz—far from it. But the process whereby the leaves of plants turn C02 and Water and Light into Glucose and Oxygen has always fascinated me.

What does this have to do with green? An essential part of this whole process is the pigment chlorophyll, which is a basic component of the leaves of most higher plants. Chlorophyll absorbs blue and red light, but reflects green light, so we perceive it as having the color green.

Chlorophyll molecules are an essential part of the photosynthesis process, involving an electron transport chain. The chlorophyll molecules “donate” electrons to a series of molecular intermediaries, which in turn help separate the H20 molecules into H and 02.

Of course, I’m oversimplifying, because the actual process is highly complicated. But the staggering fact about photosynthesis is that it is responsible for most of the Oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere!

So as I marvel at the green leaves of our Lettuce plants as they float on our Nutrient Ponds, I offer a silent thanks to our Crisp Salad Greens and all plants, for working so hard to keep us all alive on this planet. Without chlorophyll-bearing plants, we’d be gasping for air.

With renewed reverence, I mix up another batch of our nutrient solution, using the best-engineered plant food on the planet. Advanced Nutrients Micro, Grow, and Bloom comprise their basic diet, without the Bloom to keep our Lettuce from bolting.

AN shares my reverence for plants, I’m certain of that. If they did not, they could never have developed such products as Grandma Enggy’s Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid, and Seaweed Extract.

These three throwbacks to a bygone era, help recreate that fertile, rich, black humus that our forebears grew their vegetables in. To duplicate this plant-sustaining grow environment in a hydroponic setting was a work of genius.

AN must know an awful lot about what plants really need to thrive. Otherwise, they would never have started manufacturing three products containing live microorganisms, designed to inhabit the root zones of our plants. Not just merely to live there, but to contribute to root formation, food absorption, plant growth, and yield in a major way!

Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice should be used cautiously in hydroponics, since the beneficial organisms multiply like crazy in water. Better use it at half the recommended strength, and you’ll still have millions of fungi, bacteria, and microbes to go around.

Calcium and Magnesium should be taken by all of us daily as supplements, in order to maintain healthy bones, teeth, and joints. Plants benefit from these two, as well. Our Lettuce, Pak Choi, and Herbs are crisper and more robust than before we started using Sensi Cal Mg Grow in our mix.

Wendy and Ernie are planning a big Brand Name launch in a swank hotel with high profile media presence. Pretty soon Crisp Salad Greens will be asked for by name by consumers, who will point out to store owners that not any Greens will do.

I feel the same way about Advanced Nutrients products. Not any nutrients will do, thank you.

posted by silvio @ 7:07 PM   0 comments

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Heavy Promotion Begats New Construction

It’s official, Wendy and Ernie are our new partners. We checked them out very carefully, and they are legit. We signed the papers on Wednesday, and construction has already begun on four new greenhouses.

I was reluctant to have us experience such rapid growth, but Chuck convinced me that if we can double our sales, we will be able to increase our staff and cut back the hours that he and I have been putting into the business.

We took a long hard look at our sales for the past year, and came to the realization that Specialty Lettuce was outselling our Boston Lettuce. This was due partially to our first greenhouse being smaller than the others, but also to changing public tastes.

Bits of Red Sails, not just on account of the color but also its frilly edge, look more exotic in a salad, than do leaves of Boston or Butter Lettuce. I prefer the taste of the latter, but our visually oriented society is more into looks than anything else.

So the partnership had a heated meeting, and we decided to devote two of the new greenhouses to growing different types of Specialty Lettuce. Based on extensive market research conducted by Wendy and Ernie (their company is called We Promote) now we have an official Market Plan.

Greenhouses Number Five and Six will grow Lollo Rossa and Royal Oak—two very popular hydroponic lettuce varieties—while Greenhouse Seven will produce nothing but Basil, the best-selling Herb. I guess Mr. Wong was right, because according to the Market Plan, Greenhouses Eight--the largest of the four new ones-- will be devoted entirely to growing Pak Choi.

“Let’s face it,” said Wendy, “China is the wave of the future. 1.3 billion people comprise such marketing clout, that they influence everything from the food we eat to the movies we watch to the cars we drive. Did I mention that China is starting to manufacture its own line of cars?”

Chuck wasn’t too happy about the Pak Choi, but figures don’t lie, so he went along with the Plan. “At least we don’t have to buy the cheap plant nutrients from Mr. Wong’s family,” said I, always one to count my blessings.

“Speaking of nutrients,” said Ernie, “I’ve contacted Advanced Nutrients and told them of our expansion plans. They were very glad to hear it and offered us a good deal on future bulk purchases.”

That was a bit of good news, indeed. This meant that regardless of how big our operation grows, we can always be assured that we feed our plants the best nutrients possible.

Micro and Grow, even without Bloom, provide our Lettuce, Herbs, and Pak Choi with all the macro and micronutrients that are necessary for any plant to thrive. The quality ingredients in these AN products ensure that our crops are nourished superbly, from seed to harvest.

“They told me,” Ernie went on, “that with our new greenhouses, we’ll join their group of elite customers, especially with the amount of Sensi Cal Mg Grow that we’ll order.” Salad greens, Herbs, and Pak Choi all require more than the usual amount of calcium.

We checked our supply room for how many products we needed to re-order, and discovered that our Fulvic and Humic Acid supply was low. “Don’t forget,” said Ernie jokingly, “no Humic Acid in the Herb greenhouses. People won’t want our Herbs with black roots!”

Humic Acid is such a great product, but one side-effect is that it colors the nutrient solution along with your roots a rich black color. Sort of like the rich, black humus that it helps to recreate in a hydroponic setting.

For Lettuce and Pak Choi, which have their roots cut off at harvest, this is not a problem. However, customers want to buy Herbs with their roots on, because some of them put the Herbs into pots at home or even plant them in their garden, until they’re ready to use.

“Speaking of roots,” said Wendy, “I’ve been reading about Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice on the AN Advancedpedia. Do you guys use it at half strength or full strength?”

I explained to Wendy that an AN tech guy told me to use it at half-strength for hydro, because the beneficial fungi, bacteria, and microbes might multiply too rapidly in a water setting, causing the roots to clump together.

“In soil, full strength is okay,” I said. “But in hydro, even half of the millions of microorganisms those products contain are enough to colonize our roots and assist our plants to fight off harmful fungi and bacteria.”

Wendy and Ernie gave us the thumbs up sign, and the four partners toured the construction site of the four new greenhouses, right next to our existing ones.

posted by silvio @ 8:25 AM   0 comments