Greenhouses "spring" into action - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Greenhouses "spring" into action

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(03/11/14) - Even with the threat of more snow overnight and Wednesday, signs of spring continue to blossom across Mid-Michigan.

Inside Mid-Michigan greenhouses, growers are busy cultivating plants and flowers, which are beginning to spring to life.

It's a delicate balance growers face every year.

"Well, all of the snow and below zero temperatures, we were a little worried that it would prohibit the plants from growing, not enough sunlight. But, so far, it's been pretty good," said Kay Porter, a co-owner of Ken's Greenhouse.

Sunlight helps create a nurturing environment, especially during the initial stages of life, but when the weather gets too cold, other forms of heat must be used to keep the plants growing.

Kelly Walker, from Walker Farms, explains.

"The greenhouses just have two layers of plastic between the outside and there is no insulation. When you say, 'The heat's going through the roof,' the heat is actually going through the roof," he said.

With temperatures way below normal for this time of year, that's led to higher heating bills. In Walker's case, he paid 25 percent more this winter.

"You try to maintain about a 72 degree temperature on average. If you can get 60 out of this, or even the upper 50s, so it makes the growing a bit challenging," he said.

Other challenges include choosing which type of heat to use and where to set the thermostat  to keep plants and flowers flourishing, without breaking the bank.

In Porter's greenhouse, the thermometer read 80 degrees.

"We heat with a wood stove in another building, so that cut down on a lot of the expenses. Now that we've moved into our gas-heated greenhouses, it will go up to the 1,000 mark."

One silver lining to our harsh winter is an expected reduction in bugs and plant diseases that flourished during warmer winters the past several years.

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