Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mail carrying is like, so last month. So.. wanna know where plants come from?

The real reason I have this new job is for blogging purposes. I plan to keep changing jobs once a month so that I have something new to blog about. So far I LOVE my new job. I work at a greenhouse that supplies all the plants to Home Depot and other such stores. It's huge -- probably a few acres large. I get lost in it a lot. Here's a summary of my first three days:

1. Monday: The day began with sorting through catnip and lemon balm plants, throwing away the small ones, and amalgamating the good ones, to make room for new plants. Next, sowing sweet basil and red rubin basil seeds. 300 flats of the first and 75 of the second. Seeds are very expensive, especially the red rubin, so they're kept locked up in the office, generally speaking, until sowing. 15 seeds go in each pot. Too many, and the middle of the plants grows fungus. Sowing the seeds all in the centre of the pot means each individual plant supports its neighbour.

Part of this involved getting dirt and filling the pots. Planter soil comes through these conveyor belts in the roof, and when they run, dirt rains in your hair. :( The belts lead to three separate planting machines worth $2 million each. The machines fill the trays with dirt, and delicately place plants in them. But because we were seeding by hand, we had to shovel out the dirt ourselves, and cart it over to the herb section. The greenhouse is divided into three main sections: the seeding area, growing area, and order picking area.

Next, I learned about how to fertilize using an irrigation pump. Basically, you take this pump that looks like a motor and bucket on wheels, and you hook it up to a network of pipes that run above the plants. You take fertilizer and mix it with the water. Then you put a hose into the water and hit a switch that removes the air from the water. You keep adding fertilizer and testing the water that comes out of the hose with a guage that reads the concentration level. In this case, for flowering baskets, we wanted a .2 concentration. It takes a while for the plants to get soaked, but you keep measuring the soil's concentration level using the guage, until it hits around .2, and then you stop.

2. Tuesday: The day began with destroying the most beautiful easter hanging baskets I ever saw. A few hundred baskets of pastel coloured pansies (yellow, purple, pink) in full bloom hadn't sold, so we were given scissors and instructions to deliver a Britney-Spears hack job. We chopped off every single flower. This allows the plants to bloom again, in time for Mother's Day, when they will be sold.

After that, I spent the day picking off sticks and buds from miniature carnations. They were a more ugly colour (fluorescent pink), so I didn't mind quite so much. The plants were still so small even though they were sown in October. From birth to sale, each plant must be plucked of its buds ELEVEN times, to allow them to grow bushier. It seems so labour intensive!

3. Wednesday: Today was a fun day. First, I put tags on the basil we sowed on Monday. Then, I hand-watered a bunch of plants. I watered them because they were about to get a dose of growth inhibitor spray. This spray actually destroys and / or delays a gene in the plant, to keep it small and compact. Then, after being purchased, the plant will grow. Who knew that the plants you buy are genetically engineered via a simple spray?!

Other plants are also sprayed with a myriad of different types of fertilizer. Some are made of kelp, some of fish eyes. Some are 400 parts per million and possibly toxic. Others are 4 parts per million. Luckily I won't have to spray the toxic stuff if I choose not to (for now). I think I watered verbena and durango gold marigolds.

Next, the fun part! Hanging baskets are hung on conveyor belts on the ceiling. Push a button, and they move. Push another button, and they rotate past a sensor that sends a shower of water on them. My task though, was to pinch the buds of the osteos (African Daisy), down to the second set of leaves. It was sort of like duck hunting - trying to pluck before the basket whizzed by. Some conveyor belts didn't work, so I ended up balancing things precariously on each other, climbing poles and table tops in order to reach.

All in all, working there has increased my interest in gardening, rather than make me sick of it. When I come home, I want to mess around with plants even more! I just planted a whole tray of foxglove, for example, and put them on Jules' window. They're biennials, so they won't bloom until next year. That means there is so much chance for them to die between now and then, so they will be a challenge. On the weekend, we also planted the blueberry (Elliot and Nelson varieties) and raspberry (Tulameen) in the front flower bed.

I'm tired! Sleep, please.


Post a Comment

<< Home