The 2017 Fayette County Master Gardener Volunteer (FCMGV) training started classes Jan. 3 and so far they have explored botany, planted cuttings in propagation class, and learned about soil and fertilizer.
The Saturday class included a behind the scenes field trip to McClish’s Plants Plus Greenhouses and Patchwork Gardens.
Brent McClish (co-owner with wife Nancy) gave them the history of the greenhouse business that started in 1984. They are dedicated to quality with a good value. The business is exclusively retail and seasonal. They shut down after mum season and open again in April for the busy planting and growing season.
McClish’s uses some tried and true “old school” practices such as sowing their seed in flats. Small plants with only two to four leaves are transplanted from the flat into cells or pots. This allows them to grow exactly what they want. They feel they get the best quality.
Some more modern practices include flood benching, an automated flat filler, and bottom heat supplied directly to the root zone while keeping the rest of the greenhouse cooler. In addition, the roof of the “new” glasshouse, completed in 2005, opens completely for maximum cooling. Heat retention curtains help keep the heat in at night and provide shade during the day.
Patchwork Gardens is also a family business owned by the Wilt family and was founded in 1983. Michelle Wilt gave a tour and explained that they are retail and wholesale. The business is in production year round.
The wholesale business provides hanging baskets to Kroger all over Ohio. They also produce seeded and rooted plants in plug flats for Grimes Seed. The plants are delivered by truck or packaged for FedEx delivery.
Plug flats contain 142, 280, or 500 cells. These flats are filled with growing media, dibbled (holes poked to receive seed), and lightly watered with a flat filler. An automated seed sower places seed in each of the holes. Once the plants have germinated and are ready to ship, a crew works by hand to make sure a guaranteed number of cells are full.
The plugs they produce can be used to supply their own retail business. Wholesaling for Grimes Seed gives them access to a large variety of plant material.
The FCMGV interns were surprised by the work that goes on behind the scenes. These family-owned businesses here in Fayette County have carved a niche for themselves. The FCMGV interns are looking forward to putting their new knowledge to work and to spring flowers. Hang in there. Spring will be here before you know it.