Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, February 26, 1977, Image 42

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    42—Lancaster Farming. Sal
Feature Writer
Seventeen-year-old Jim Wert is no stranger to hard
work. Jim operates a greenhouse and attends school
fulltime. And, from all appearances, he’s doing an en
viable job of both.
Jim’s greenhouse, filled with'lush greenery, is located
in Landisvhle just a few blocks from his 289 Main Street
home. He has named it “The Green Glove Greenhouse”
after a chance remark made by his grandmother in
reference to his having won the FFA Star Greenland
Award last year.
The greenhouse once belonged to Mark Nolt, and is
now part of the property owned by the Dan Gross family.
Jim says the Gross family has been a big source of help
and encouragement in his work there. Jim’s parents are
Mr. and Mrs. James Wert, Sr.
What inspires a teenager to go into the greenhouse
business? Jim says simply, “I’ve always been interested
in it. My grandfather was interested, and so was my
Dad. I’ve helped take care of the flower garden at my
home since I was in third or fourth grade.’ ’
He recounts, too, how he bid on all the plants offered
for sale at a public auction. He got them all, and he was
just in seventh grade. He still has some of those plants in
his greenhouse.-.
This Hempfield High School senior, not only has the
interest, but also seems to have what must be the most
important ingredient in growing plants • a green thumb.
Along with the green thumb, Jim is also willing to work
hard. He spends at least one hour at the greenhouse;
watering plants before school each morning. He adds, “I
work here every day. There is always something to do.”
In the summer he grew over an acre of vegetables, and
said, “That was a lot of weeding.”
iturday. Feb. 26, 1977
The way to have full, thick hanging baskets, Jim says, is to pinch back the plants to force them to send out extra shoots.
reea Glove'
Despite the hundreds of healthy plants in the green
house, Jim is quick to point out that it has been a lear
ning process. He is in his second year of floriculture at
Mount Joy Vocational Technical School, and says, “I
wouldn’t have tried it without having a course at Vo-
Last Summer he decided to take over the abandoned
greenhouse, and in August he began the venture with 50
poinsettias. “I bought cuttings,” he said, explaining that
poinsettias are very difficult to start alone. In October he
purchased 875 more cuttings, and he was in business in
earnest. Most of this crop were sold to churches and to
group functions over the Christmas holiday.
While working with the poinsettias, Jim started
hanging baskets from cuttings of plants he had in bis
room at home. He added, “I was also digging wax'
begonias before the frost. I'm not afraid to ask people'
for cuttings or plants if they’re just going to let them
freeze over the Winter.”
He now has over 400 hanging baskets, and is starting
300 hanging geraniums of pink and lavendar and 325
standard geraniums in red, pink and white. He said, “I
want to have a big variety to see what I can grow and to
see how they sell.”
His big greenhouse crops now are chrysanthemums
and Easter lilies which he is scheduling to be In bloom
for the Easter holiday. He has seven colors of fuchsia,
and quite a few daffodils and tulips which are beginning
to bloom. He said he is concerned about selling the
blooming plants because their life is so short and if he
doesn’t sell them, they are a total loss. He is considering
getting a refrigerator into working order which would
stretch the life of blooming plants by several weeks.
African violets are another large “crop” for Jim, and
he explains that he roots leaves, and plants his violets in
African violet potting soil.
Jim does his marketing through two outlets - Root’s
Auction in Manheim and Southern Market in Lancaster.
He has had a stand at Root’s since last May, but sold
mostly vegetables over the summer. He has been at
Southern Market just four weeks, but be said he notices a
difference in the customers who visit each market. The
ones at Southern market are more verbal, he says, often
exclaiming, “It’s beautiful.” Jim says he feels they’re a
little friendlier.
At both stands he sells hanging baskets, some
macrame holders and foliage plants. He said he likes
standing at the markets because, “I enjoy meeting a lot
of people.” And at Southern Market he said, “I can
already see people coming back.” Business has been
slow at both markets, but he said, “It’s picking up now
that it’s warmer.”
When traffic is slow at the markets, Jim said he does
homework, or studies seed catalogues and makes
macrame holders. Sheila Gross assists him at both
markets,helping him get ready for Southern Market at
7:30 a.m. every Saturday morning.
Transporting bis plants to market in this cold weather
is not too much of a problem, Jim said. He beats up his
station wagon and quickly loads it. He said he must
handle plants carefully, but if any leaves are broken off
in transporting, he Just brings them home and roots
Weathering his first Winter in the greenhouse business
has been a challenge for Jim. Healthy plants need some
warmth so he uses large amounts of fuel oil. Thermostat
temperatures are usually set between 60 and 65 degrees,
(Continued on Page 43]
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