Today's Grower Blog

Today's Grower - Greenhouse Blog

How HAF Fans Can Reduce Temperature Variations In A Commercial Greenhouse

Horizontal Air Flow (HAF) fans and their sisters (HVF) High Velocity Fans are essential parts of a greenhouse heating and cooling system. HAF Fans and HVF Fans are also known as circulating fans.

Circulating fans increase airflow throughout the greenhouse

These fans help move the air through the greenhouse, so when positioned properly they can eliminate hot spots and cold spots. When buying your airflow fans, meet with your greenhouse specialist to discuss the optimum layout. If this is a new range we can design the HAF or HVF layout during the greenhouse planning stage. 

If the fans are needed to help with an existing airflow plan we can work together to determine which fans will best achieve the desired results and how to place them through the greenhouse.

The typical layout for HAF/HVF fans is a staggered zigzag pattern through the greenhouse

The optimal placement of fans really depends on your greenhouse layout. For instance a fan and pad cooled greenhouse with the pads on the endwall would be better served to zig zag the HAF fan pattern, keeping air movement following a linear pattern similar to when the exhaust fans are operating.

Place your HAF/HVF fans at the height most beneficial to your plants

Most plants do not like high velocity air blowing directly on them. You should plan in advance so that this doesn’t happen. Will you be growing hanging baskets in your greenhouse? Will your “lower greenhouse crop” grow into the wind path of your fans? The fans should be placed above the top level of your lower crop and below the lowest level of any trailing material growing from your hanging baskets.

Control All Circulating fans in relationship to the rest of your ventilation

Controlling when you are using your HAF fans and HVF fans is also essential. If you are using exhaust fans to pull the air through cooling pads, circulating fans running may be working against the exhaust fans and need to be shut off when exhaust fans are running.

They can also potentially reduce the efficiency of natural ventilation if the airflow is working against the natural flow of air out of the roof vents.

Since you want all your ventilation components working together, the ideal situation is to have them controlled by an environmental computer. Of course environmental computers come with different price points and with various levels of complexity. GGS works with several different suppliers of environmental computers and would be happy to assist you in determining which product is best for you.

Not All Circulating fans are the same

At GGS we carry several different makes of HAF fans and HVF fans. Depending on the application, the layout, and the preferences of the grower we suggest different fans. Blade pitch affects noise as well as air flow; size effects air volume and speed; and of course there are voltage considerations as is the case with anything electrical.

Need help on choosing an HAF/HVF fan design and layout? Contact us now!

Holiday Season Garden Center & Nursery Ideas

The holiday season is just around the corner. If you operate a retail garden center/nursery, this is a great opportunity to get shoppers in the spirit by coming up with a creative Christmas display. Here are some examples of past garden center displays we’ve come across.

Use the Greenhouse Structure to Maximize Displays

One of our customers, Connon Nurseries, displays their Christmas trees by stringing them from the greenhouse trusses. This allows the branches to spread out, and their customers can rotate the tree to view it entirely before buying.

Garden Center as Entertainment Venue Brings Customers into the Greenhouse

Another customer of ours, Scotts Nurseries, ran an event at their garden center that attracted over 1200 people. They invited 2 local high school choirs and a church choir to perform songs. The property was lit up with Christmas lights both inside and outside, and the night ended with a tree lighting and Santa giving out candy.

Arranging Your Garden Center Merchandise into a Christmas Display

Bradford Greenhouses goes all out for the holidays and comes up with amazingly creative displays throughout their store. From elaborate Christmas tree displays to little villages complete with Santa, this garden center knows how to attract customers during the holidays. These displays are meant to give customers some decorating ideas, as most of the decorations on the display can also be bought.


Partner with Local Organizations to Create Outstanding Garden Center Events

Teaming up with a local organization and hosting their event at your garden center shows that you support the community and will ultimately bring more potential customers through the door. This year one of our customers in Rochester New York, The Garden Factory, will be hosting a variety of events including a Holiday Music and Light Show and are partnering with the Sno-Flyers snowmobile club to host the 19th annual Sno-Show. The event includes snowmobiles and gear on display, workshops and seminars on safety, and more. It attracts a large number of enthusiasts and The Garden Factory expects a large turnout. Whatever your event is, the space and location of your garden center can be attractive to many local groups, and can be mutually beneficial to you and the partnering organization.

Be Sure to Advertise Your Garden Center for the Holidays

All of your holiday displays, attractions, and events won’t bring in a large amount of people if you don’t advertise them. Take out an ad in the local paper, put it up on your website, or in local flyers and newsletters. Share your garden center plans with us below and we’ll put it on our Facebook page!

Remember that garden center curb appeal is essential not just during the holidays, but 365 days a year. For example, we have found that customers who build a GGS Curved Glass Greenhouse in their garden center see an immediate boost in foot traffic and sales. Learn more about how GGS can help your garden center.

The World’s Largest Indoor Farm Produces 10,000 Heads of Lettuce a Day in Japan

A former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory in Japan has been converted into the world’s largest indoor farm. Japanese plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura, CEO of Mirai Co., partnered with GE Japan to make his dream of a water, space and energy efficient indoor farming system a reality. Despite having only started production a year ago, the farm is already shipping out 10,000 heads of lettuce per day.

The farm is located in Miyagi Prefecture in eastern Japan, the area that was badly hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in 2011. At 25,000 square feet, it is nearly half the size of a football field, and 17,500 LED lights spread over 18 cultivation racks reaching 15 levels high are a key to the farm’s success. The LEDs were developed for the project by GE and emit light at wavelengths optimal for plant growth, allowing Shimamura to control the night-and-day cycle and accelerate production.

By controlling temperature, humidity and irrigation, the farm can also cut its water usage to just one percent of the amount needed by conventional outdoor farming. “What we need to do is not just setting up more days and nights. We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment,” says Shimamura. The systems allows the farm to grow nutrient-rich lettuce two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm. Wasted produce is also reduced from around 50 percent down to just 10 percent of the crop. This means a 100-fold increase in productivity per square foot. The LEDs also last longer than fluorescent lights and consume 40 percent less power.

Of the successful partnership, Shimamura adds, “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen.” The GE Japan team is convinced that indoor farms like the one in the Miyagi Prefecture could be a key to solving world food shortages. The project partners are already working on similar indoor farms in Hong Kong and the Far East of Russia.

GE Japan

Mirai Co., Ltd


Photos: GE Japan

Will GM Tomatoes be Used to Fight Diseases in the Future?

One genetically modified tomato holds the same amount of Resveratrol as fifty bottles of red wine.

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have developed a new strain of genetically modified tomatoes that are able to efficiently produce industrial volumes of natural disease-fighting compounds such as Resveratrol and Genistein. This process could also be used to grow other natural chemicals in tomatoes.

Resveratrol is a member of the  phenylpropanoidsan antioxidant found in grapes (when processed also in red wine), which has been reported to increase the lifespan of animals in certain animal studies. It may also be an effective supplement to fight cancer, heart conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, but these claims are yet to be scientifically proven as there are still mixed opinions on the effects of Resveratrol. The researchers have been able to produce a tomato that has the equivalent amount of Resveratrol as fifty bottles of red wine.

Another GM tomato produced larger quantities of Genistein, a compound normally found in soya beans, which has been linked to the prevention of steroid-hormone related cancers, such as breast cancer. One such tomato had comparable levels of Genistein as eating 2.5 kg of tofu.

Professor Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre said:

“Our study provides a general tool for producing valuable phenylpropanoid compounds on an industrial scale in plants, and potentially production of other products derived from aromatic amino acids. Our work will be of interest to different research areas including fundamental research on plants, plant/microbe engineering, medicinal plant natural products, as well as diet and health research.”

The key to turning tomatoes into “natural pharmaceutical laboratories” lies in a protein called AtMYB12 that is found in the Arabidopsis thalianawhich is a small flowering plant that is generally used as a model organism in plants. By adding explicit genetically encoded enzymes scientists trigger the production of Resveratrol or Genistein (as much as 100 mg of compound per gram of dry weight).

Growing these proteins in tomatoes acts like an engine to boost the levels of phenylpropanoids and flavanoids. The same procedure could in the future be used to mass produce other natural occurring compounds that are the basis of many medications.

The people behind this experiment want to provide a more cost effective way of mass producing beneficial plant compounds, rather than synthesising them artificially or squeezing insignificant amounts from soya beans, grapes and in the future other natural sources of beneficial compounds. Tomatoes have been chosen because they have very high yield crops that don’t require much attention and are relatively cheap to grow; yields can be as high as 500 tonnes per hectare.

Co-author of the study Dr Yang Zhang said:

“Medicinal plants with high value are often difficult to grow and manage, and need very long cultivation times to produce the desired compounds. Our research provides a fantastic platform to quickly produce these valuable medicinal compounds in tomatoes. Target compounds could be purified directly from tomato juice. We believe our design idea could also be applied to other compounds such as terpenoids and alkaloids, which are the major groups of medicinal compounds from plants.”

These findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications in a paper titled: “Multi-level engineering facilitates the production of phenylpropanoid compounds in tomato”.


How Garden Retailers Attract Customers For Halloween

If you think about it, Halloween and garden centers are a natural fit. Halloween is an especially community-oriented holiday, which parents taking children to neighbors homes to trick or treat. A local business which has been around for decades they way most garden centers have been makes it as familiar as anyone else in town. Throw in the plant yard and its abundant space, and you have an advantage over most businesses in attracting customers to your store.

Here are several ways garden centers have refined attracting customers during the spookiest time of the year, from old-fashioned story telling to parties to kid-friendly mazes.

pumpkin queen story sizeGiant Pumpkin Festival Draws A Crowd Larger Than A Town’s Population

A few years ago, Buzz Pinkham had about 100 giant pumpkin starts in his greenhouse that he gave away to customers to try to grow. He coached them over the season and had a weigh in at the end of harvest. But that humble start was too mild for the garden retailer. He launched a festival to celebrate giant pumpkins that is perhaps the zanniest fall festival in the country. It includes the expected, from weigh ins and decorated pumpkins, but it also include a large parade and the biggest draw of all: a regatta. Participants from through New England carve their giant pumpkins to water-tight boats they can race. There are a few different divisions racers can enter, including the outboard motor race. The Bangor Daily News took several funny and charming photos of this year festival you should check out.

Tom Davis Garden Center Is An Irresistible Draw For Young Children

There are a lot of different ways to interpret Halloween. Tom Davis Garden Center in Bridgeport, West Virginia, chooses to concentrate on creating a fun and spooky time for small children. The hay maze has mild scares that younger children can handle. The best thing the garden retailer offers is the fantastic story telling sessions, which relies on the considerable talents of one man. Take a look at the news report from WDTV.

Pooches & Pumpkins Appeals To Both Animal Lovers And ChildrenPooch & Pumpkin dog

The Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock, Ark., hosts an event that allows customers to indulge in both a love of the holiday and their dogs. Customers and dogs attend in costume and get to listen to live music, have their faces painted, go on hayrides, show off their carving skills, enjoy plenty of photo opportunities and the to play with small animals like pygmy goats. “On this event, we work with local rescue groups that bring in adoptable pets to raise awareness and donations for these organization,” says Gregg Curtis, co-owner.

Scary Haunted Houses Attract Older Kids And Gen X & Y

Some garden centers turn up the chills and offer attractions that thrill teens and adults. A Fairfield Garden Center in Fairfield, N.J., The Tunnel Of Terror brings together a demented freak show vibe with being caught in a horror movie.

Zywiec’s Garden Center turns the volume up all the way on the scares. It transforms into a high-level thrill that can support decent ticket prices. Customers can choose between the Haunted Experience, which gives access to a haunted house, a low-scare option, a corn maze and a hayride, or the Big Zombie Hunter, where participants get the chance to attack actors in zombie costumes with paint ball guns. Zywiec’s Halloween events are so elaborate, it has its own website that details all the offerings. Make sure you check it out to see just how sophisticated the makeup and props are.

High Quality Video To Show Off Your Merchandise

Each Halloween and Christmas, Roger’s Garden in Corona Del Mar invests in creating high quality videos that put their inventory in the best possible light. Roger’s gift department is renowned for its merchandising and for offering sophisticated items that anyone would be proud to incorporate in her home. With the theme of “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” here’s the 2015 Halloween video, which is included on their website:



Subscribe to Today's Grower - Greenhouse Blog