During the growing season, we are constantly dealing with mother nature. The ongoing battles with too much rain, not enough rain, high winds, droughts, diseases, pests and other acts of god, could some years be enough to make any nurseryman blow a gasket. It is challenging to say the least. Like clockwork, during the month of October, a part of us looks forward to when these plants finally “go to sleep” for the winter. Now, don’t get us wrong, we love our work. The amazing facets of nature do make it quite endearing, but some years you’re just ready for a break.
As summer slowly draws to an end and the leaves change color and drop, we begin to make preparations towards the overwintering of our plant material. Contrary to most people's idea of a greenhouse, the greenhouses we use for overwintering are unheated and covered with an opaque, white polyethylene plastic. The opaque white plastic reduces heat build up during warm winter days and in the early spring. If the greenhouses become too hot on a warm winter day, it could cause some of the plants to break dormancy and begin pushing growth. This new growth is very soft and totally susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures on a cold winter day.
The majority of the plant material we store in these greenhouses are growing in containers. Most of the roots in a container-grown plant are located against the inner wall of the container. Therefore, there is not much insulation protecting the bulk of the roots of the plant. If containerized plant material is left unstored and exposed to the elements of winter, the roots of the plant may be killed by freezing temperatures, especially if the plant is exposed to lethal temperatures for a long period of time. In turn, a frozen root mass would result in the desiccation (drying up) of the branches, leaves, and trunk. Most plant material does not fully recover from such conditions, resulting in the death of the plant.
When the weather warms and no sign of excessive cold is in the forecast, we remove the plastic covers off of the greenhouses. Some of the plastic from the larger greenhouses can be reused next season on a smaller house; the rest is recycled.
A peek inside one our greenhouses at Ostrich Nursery