"Greenhouse production is important to vegetable farms because it helps bring in early income, giving cash flow to help get the farm planted," explained Mike Marini, third-generation owner of Marini Farms. "Any way you can start earlier or extend a season helps."
The early greenhouse plantings contribute to Marini Farms' reputation for having some of the best and most flavorful fruits available on the North Shore.
"We seed all our own seedlings for our field crop," Marini said. "This insures we are starting with a healthy, disease-free transplant and the best possible varieties, which reduces risk. There is nothing worse than buying into your problems."
He cites an example of a box store selling tomato plants infected with late blight. "The poor home gardeners did not have a chance of producing a healthy crop on their own," Marini exclaimed.
Marini Farms grows tomatoes, rhubarb, cucumbers, swiss chard, zucchini, green beans, peppers, carrots, peas, annuals, perennials, herbs and an astounding array of hanging plants in its greenhouses. Currently, there are four greenhouses on the farm, which cover about one acre of Marini Farm's total 200 acres devoted to mixed fruits and vegetables (another 100 acres is leased for growing corn).
Another reason for staying close to the farm during February is that winter weather conditions must be carefully watched as heavy snowfalls can threaten greenhouse structures. Three years ago in February, Marini Farm lost three of its greenhouses due to snowstorms, as pictured below when the roofs were flattened.
"It was a challenge to lose them at this time because we had to rebuild our infrastructures while we were also trying to grow our crops," Marini noted. "Flowers can only be held together for so long, but eventually you have to give them the proper growing space otherwise quality will be compromised."
The financial costs were also challenging as all three greenhouses had to be rebuilt simultaneously. However, as Marini jokingly adds, "Some were outdated, old chicken coops converted to growing houses. They were long overdue for some modernization."
To ensure consistent quality and volume of products grown within the greenhouses, Marini Farms must carefully manage:
- effective pest and disease control
- efficient heating and energy costs (which means that instead of opening the greenhouses in January, due to high costs of heating, they now open in late February for production. The retail houses officially open around May 1st, but many customers come in before that to browse or shop as walking through a colorful greenhouse is uplifting and often helps put one in a good mood after a long winter).
- proper ventilation
- accurate fertilization amounts
- thorough maintenance of the plants and buildings
"Working in the greenhouses is one of the most peaceful and self-gratifying jobs on the farm," he claimed. "At the end of the day, you can look back and physically see that you have accomplished something. Nursing and watching those plants grow only add to the experience."
- Consumers have moved away from planting large gardens to creating more container gardens, with more perennials, varieties and colors than ever before.
- Vegetable and herb gardens are becoming increasingly popular.
- Larger, individual plants are replacing "six-pack" purchases.
Proud that 90 percent of what Marini Farms sells is grown on-site, Marini noted the greenhouses make farming a year-round event.
"Marini Farm is part of every season," he said. "We produce our own product, giving our new and loyal customers the best quality possible at affordable prices. We are very lucky to have returning customers who have been buying their flowers from us for years."
Written by Blogger Pros.