We’d been discussing replacing our Stuppy (the manufacturer) greenhouses for several years. The two Stuppy houses constructed in the fall of 1975 were each 30’ x 96’. In the scheme of things these greenhouse structures are very cost effective to construct and maintain. They grow good plants year after year, and our two Stuppy houses didn’t owe us anything.
The houses were auctioned off last summer and their bones made it to Nebraska to continue their life growing plants for a new nursery. I’m sure they’ll be growing plants decades from now.
Jeremy sourced a modern greenhouse from Westbrook out of Canada to replace the Stuppy quonset houses. This new greenhouse has an opening roof and sidewalls that open up to create fantastic natural ventilation. It also has concrete in place of the settled gravel floors, modern greenhouse heating and a retractable shade curtain to open and close as needed. Fourteen foot sidewalls will allow us to grow lots of hanging baskets.
Once the planning of the project got underway, we visited about putting up the 63’ x 108’ greenhouse. We have put up greenhouses in the past, but I had always relied on crews that specialized in greenhouse projects for our bigger structures. Jeremy was certain we could do it with our staff during the winter. That was our plan. Like most construction projects there are always delays - planning, permits, weather etc.
The greenhouse hit the ground on December 2nd, and we started assembling the pieces that would make up the guttering and the arches right away. Bob, our general contractor, began with the grading and utilities. After the first of the year, the foundation was poured and January 19th we sat in the first posts.
Despite dealing with mud, snow and losing a couple of weeks in February due to the extreme cold, our crew has done a great job with this project in just a few short months. Early on, the greenhouse went up fast. Later on, not so much. There is a lot of detail work involved.
Reflecting back on the project, the sights, sounds and even smells of it come to mind. The sights of watching the progress of each day’s project. The sound of impact drivers tightening nuts and bolts. The sound of the scissor lift beeping as it backs up. Finally the sound of the motors operating the retractable roof and side wall in motion.
In the early days of Johnson’s, Orie would heat cold frames where his plants were grown with a layer of horse manure. It was a resource that was readily available and very effective in providing heat. Once the greenhouse was partially completed, Jeremy and I were chatting about the slight ‘organic’ aroma in the area. I thought it may be from the concrete. Jeremy offered he thought it was the slight odor of remnants of manure used in the heating of Orie’s early facility. I bet he’s right. Every time I catch a bit of the odor it brings a smile to my face knowing that we are carrying on Orie and Harold’s legacy.
Throughout this process, I have found myself picking up pieces of glass in the area, which are from those early greenhouses and cold frames. Once the greenhouse is finished and all of the rest of the pieces of glass are under concrete I still plan to learn the art of stained glass and make a suncatcher of sorts to hang in the new greenhouse.
I hope you’ll join us in another something new we're doing at the stores. Our goal is to support some of our favorite local charitable organizations in our community this year. At checkout, all you have to do is tell your clerk that you'd like to "up your total" to support our 'Tend Your Acre' project. For the month of April your contribution will support Claire Russell in her mission to be Student of the Year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Claire is raising funds to find cures and treatment for blood cancers, in honor of the memory of her cousin Reese. Reese endured Leukemia for 9 years and unfortunately lost her battle at the young age of 13. Claire has until April 23rd to reach her goal of $50,000. Johnson’s has chosen to match the upping amount for Claire’s campaign. We hope you join us in this effort. Please visit the campaign website for more information on Claire's team, Reese Power.
Stake your claim, sustain and tend your acre. For he that grows, will not grow old. - Robin Macy
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center
The sights, sounds and smells of a greenhouse project.