Thursday, April 26, 2007

Greenhouse Entry #2


Today I learned so much my head hurt, and I was ready to come home after 8 hours, even more hours are available if I want. First, I was tasked with spraying the mini carnations with a fertilizer / iron mix. This mix is red in colour, and keeps the fussy carnations from losing their pigment. 45 minutes later, the iron needs to be washed off their leaves so that they don't turn brown. The fertilizer we use is indeed high in nitrogen and potassium, and low in phosphorus. It's also high in calcium and magnesium, hence the name 'calmag.'

Next, we mixed about 80 bags of fertilizer into four giant vats that feed it through the entire greenhouse irrigation system. Approximately 18 bags go in each vat, and blue dye is added. A water test shows the chlorine level. Adding one drop of solution to the sample before it turns black equals one part per million. The chlorine level in our water was about two parts per million. The fertilizer should be about 1.7 parts per million. The vats are located in the hottest part of the greenhouse, unfortunately, and I was sweating and covered in blue fertilizer and dye. I am going to have to devise some ingenious plan on how to get myself from blue collar job to white collar job within 45 minutes, when I pick up more teaching hours. I already bought nail polish to conceal the grime under my fingernails, which won't scrub out.

After that, we checked a bunch of sweet potato vines that allegedly had aphids. Inspection proved otherwise. They were just producing too much sugar, a condition known as botrysis due to improper temperatures, fertilization, air and light. I did however go see real aphids. They're light coloured with dark elbows and their butts stick up in the air. They suck out the nutrition from the plants so that they wither. Caterpillers on the other hand, eat holes. There are two other common and annoying insects that do a lot of damage (tryps and.. ?)

Next, we dusted the greenhouse floors with about 15 bags of baking soda. This has a high PH and kills the liverwort, slugs, moss and other weeds. I learned that snakes and frogs also make their home in the greenhouse, and that a lack of frogs means an unhealthy environment. Good to know they're surviving the chemicals.

Then, I sprayed some plants with a fertilizer mixed with a very potent growth inhibitor hormone plus fungicide. The spray has to be distributed very evenly, or the plants will differ too much in height. I guess it's my own fault that my head hurts.. the girl who hired me, M, is so good at explaining things, and I take advantage of that by asking way too many questions!


Blogger Echo said...

You blog is most interesting to me. Educational in a sense. No wonder after I plant the plants in the garden, I do not get the same result as I first saw them because they need different nutrients and environments.

Do you have overall and wear face masks to keep yourself from the chemicals, hormons etc.?

Have fun learning!

5:14 PM  
Blogger deepthoughts said...

Very interesting! My mum is also teaching me a few things about gardening. I have learned that it takes a lot of work to maintain what appears to be a relatively simple garden. But we have fresh herbs and vegetables which she uses in cooking and that is definitely worth it. There are frogs here too. They are lovely little creatures and apparently nature's litmus tests for environments, being amphibians and highly susceptible to chemicals and such.

9:44 AM  

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