Construction Of FFA Greenhouse Completed

The days are getting longer, and overall warmer, so it’s natural that people are getting the urge for spring and everything that comes with it.
The Elgin FFA Chapter is also getting the itch for spring. Especially since they’ll be spending parts of their spring in some new “digs”.
The chapter will begin using their just-completed greenhouse for their annual spring plant sales. The new structure, measuring 18 feet by 24 feet, is a considerable upgrade from the previous greenhouse and will enable the FFA chapter plus some classes to learn more about plants and the growing process.
The new greenhouse was made possible in part through funds from the FFA chapter’s previous plant sales, the Nebraska “I Believe in the Future of Ag Campaign”, a grant in early 2015 from Farm Credit Services of America for $2,000 and a grant of $5,000 from the Elgin Area Community Foundation last July.
According to Chapter Advisor Mrs. Julia Schwartz, the first plants for 2016 could be in the greenhouse as soon as this week. Those first plants are the ever-popular geraniums. “The rest of the flowers will come mid-March,” said Mrs. Schwartz on Monday. “Vegetables will come later in March or the first part of April”.
The plants come from Stuart’s Greenhouse in Central City. Mrs. Schwartz explained why they travel to Central City for their plants.
“This greenhouse has found a niche by providing plants to most all schools in the north central, south central and even northeast regions of the state,” she said.  After they supply their schools, their greenhouses are open for business to the public for a couple months in the spring/early summer.
“Their biggest need they cater to is making containers and hanging baskets for cities, towns and individuals all over Nebraska and even in other states!”, Schwartz noted.
Once the plants arrive in Elgin, the chapter gets to work.
Chapter members transplant most of the plants into larger containers. Plants like the geraniums will be transplanted into 4 inch containers.
“We will cut off all leaves (but one or two) and the buds off of the geraniums until about April 1st.” she said. “This will allow the geraniums to be fuller (wider) versus tall and “lengthy”.”
They also will fertilize all the flowers with the geraniums getting extra due to their nutrient needs.
The goal is for all the flowers to be ready to sell by the beginning of May. She said, “we order extra plants just for our containers – we make 10”, 12” or even 14” containers/hanging baskets.”
With the new greenhouse, their goal is to utilize it year-round.
“Next fall, we hope to start growing veggies for the schools and senior center,” she explained.  They plan to start with tomatoes and lettuce and “go from there”.
Next year, an irrigation system will be installed to make watering all the plants more efficient.
As always, this is one on-going learning experience in business that should help the chapter hit “pay dirt” when it comes to funds.