As a busy fall season comes to a close, the team at St. Williams Nursery have recently completed the installation of sixteen new hoop houses in the container yard. The new hoop house expansion complements an existing five, and will sit on approximately ten acres of space where a greenhouse structure once sat. The dismantling of the old greenhouse structure began in June and was completed in August. Once completed, the hoop house construction began, the entire project will take St. Williams two years to complete, and will provide the nursery with atleast thirty hoop houses on the property.
The benefits of these hoop houses will be felt immediately as they allow the nursery to control the over-wintering of their species by offering protection from the excessive cold and winter burn. During the summer months, these hoop houses will be used as holding areas and some of them will be converted to shade houses.
St. Williams Nursery General Manager, Scott Meyer said, “The hoop houses are a great way to combat some of the severe frost damage we experienced last winter on some of our deciduous species. We had a late and heavy frost in 2014, and a lot of new growth points were burnt off and product was not sellable for that immediate season”
Prior to the erection of the hoop houses, the team would consolidate stock and put a buffer around the root profile in an effort to protect stock from frost burn in the winter months. Recycled ‘vegetable grow bags’ were used to insulate the roots with a combination of fall leaves and straw to cover the top of the plants and pots.
The benefits of these hoop houses are multi-fold; on the production side, it increases the nursery’s efficiency in handling by making stock neater and more manageable for assembling orders. On the growing side, the white poly cover on the hoop houses allows for an extended growing season. The team also installed an underground irrigation system that is ready for use at any time, if plants start flushing a little earlier because the hoop houses heat up a little quicker in spring – we can now irrigate if stock gets hot and dry.
The container yard expansion project will see continued expansion on the hoop house development, aswell as further installation of shade houses for our shady loving species, for both deciduous and herbaceous species. Planning is also underway to develop an area to hold and grow larger format stock in a sheltered and properly staged area.