Warm weather means spring planting and gardening. And with the offerings grown by Tidewater Community College’s Greenhouse Production II class, it is time to get started.
This semester proved to be a great growing season despite cloudy skies and rainy weather. “We usually have to use multiple applications of growth regulators to keep the plants in check, but not so this year,” said Amanda Verdin, TCC’s greenhouse manager.
The Greenhouse Production class produced a healthy crop of geraniums, cyclamen, petunias, phlox and more flowering plants. “Due to the extreme cold temperatures, we did have some trouble with the geraniums,” added Verdin. “But we replaced the cuttings and began again, and now we have some great plants.”
Every semester, horticulture students learn about plant production in the hands-on laboratories on the Chesapeake Campus. Three greenhouses protect plants and provide the growing setting in every season.
The Greenhouse Production class focuses on proper techniques for planting, fertilizing and documenting the growing season for selected plants. In addition to flowering plants, students grew hybrid tomatoes, a variety of herbs, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers and squash.
“Overall we have had some issues with the heating and cooling controls in the greenhouses, and have had a difficult time maintaining proper temperatures, but this proved to be a great learning experience for students,” said Ken Spencer, horticulture program head. “When growing plants, we face challenges, so this is a real-world work environment here.”
Growing plants means pests, and learning pest control techniques. “During one of our scouting sessions to look for problems with the plants, we found a heavy infestation of aphids on our cyclamen. We tossed the worst plants and used a homemade remedy to treat the problem on the rest,” Verdin said. “The results were fantastic.”
TCC homemade pest control for your plants
Mix the TCC homemade formula for pests on most plants. Take a 16-ounce spray bottle and fill 3/4 with water. Add a few squirts of liquid dish detergent. Then add a few capfuls of rubbing alcohol. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water and replace the top. Shake well. Spray as needed on vegetables, houseplants and blooming bedding plants to get rid of pests. This solution is safe for humans and pets.