There’s no arguing this winter has been a particularly long and brutal season but one only has to walk through the greenhouse door at Hanson’s Garden Village to realize relief is on the way.
Not only is the cloyingly humid, loamy smelling air a welcome aroma but there are tiny little shoots popping up as far as the eye can see.
“We actually start planting some of our stuff as early as Feburary 20,” said Brent Hanson, who along with his wife Sue, own and operate this business. “Right now we have about 12 people working just to plant seeds for the plants we will be selling this summer.”
While these little shoots seem fragile and minute, they will most certainly grow into the beautiful specimens they are destined to become due to the diligence of the Hanson’s and their employees, but the cost to nurture these plants comes at a cost.
“To heat these greenhouses wasn’t cheap this year,” Brent said, “and we’re hoping this spring will be normal, not like last year when the ice was on area lakes into May.”
But true growers like the Hanson’s don’t let the weather dampen their spirits when it comes to getting ready for the warmer months. In fact, they are very enthusiastic about some of the newest plants they are currently growing.
“We grow a wide variety of flowers here but we are also seeing people getting into more native plants,” said Brent. “There is also a definite shift toward growing edibles and there are several reasons for this.”
Vegetable plants have always been a favorite but Brent is noticing people are becoming more educated about the specimens they are planting in their gardens.
“People are expanding their palates as far as how they season food,” said Brent. “We get requests to grow lots of herbs and plants that will compliment many different types of cooking, like Asian, Indian and Korean. Our customers are also becoming more in tune with where and how their food is grown.”
Brent has also seen a shift in who actually plants a garden.
“Vegetable gardeners were sort of a dying breed there for a while but that is coming back strong now,” said Brent. “I see lots of young families coming in with their kids. These customers want to educate their young ones on how to grow their own food and I am very happy to see this shift.”
He also cites the growing trend in locally grown food.
“People are becoming more aware of where their food is actually grown,” he said. “They also know if they grow a garden themselves they can control the use of, or eliminate, pesticides and other chemicals.”
Of course flowers have always been favorites and Brent is working hard to educate his customers about the hundreds of varieties available. While fuchsias, impatiens, petunias and geraniums have always been popular, these particular blooms don’t always nurture the swindling populations of beneficial insects like bees.
“The flowers grown for show are beautiful but they don’t provide much for bee populations,” said Brent. “Native plants really provide bees and butterflies with the pollen and nectar they need to reproduce.”
One of the ways gardeners can help bees is by planting flowering specimens bees have evolved with. Even one or two plants is beneficial.
“I think many times people think just having a plant or two won’t make a difference but it really does,” said Brent. “I’ve seen scenarios where someone plants a few flowering herbs or native plants and their neighbor comes in wanting to purchase the same plants because they draw butterflies and bees. Pretty soon an entire neighborhood is bee friendly.”
And while the honey bee seems to get all the attention, there are actually hundreds of bee species that help pollinate many plants.
“That’s why having a little variety is important,” said Brent.
In addition to all the vegetables plants being started, the Hanson’s are also gearing up for the bareroot season which is also a growing trend.
“More and more people are purchasing apple, cherry and plum trees,” said Brent. “Fruiting vines and bushes are also very popular.”
Another project the Hanson’s are working on is growing aronia, which is a type of chokecherry.
“That is my son’s project and last year we planted five acres,” said Brent. “The berries are a super food, full of antioxidants and other important nutrients.”
The greenhouses won’t actually be open until mid-April, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to be done before that date. In fact, right now a dozen employees are helping get many tiny plants off and running. But they all have big smiles on their faces.
After all, it’s 75 degrees in these structures, and there are green and growing plants filling the aisles from wall to wall.
“I’ve already got a pretty good farmer’s tan going,” said Cassie Shefchik, who has been working at Hanson’s for a few weeks now. “It’s great being in a greenhouse this time of year. The winter blues just melt away.”
Hanson’s will be offering numerous classes in the upcoming weeks starting as early as March 15.
For more information, visit their website at info.hansonsgardenvillage.com or call at 715-365-2929.