It may be hard to believe, but the end of a regular season in our greenhouses is just as busy as the beginning! The end of our regular season is all about thoroughly cleaning our greenhouse facilities, removing old crop debris, and being proactive with pest management efforts to help create the perfect growing environment for new plants. And with the clean out process taking a lot of time and effort, we ask for the help and support of our entire team – from start to finish of clean out season, it’s all-hands-on-deck!
Keep reading to learn more about why clean out season is such an important part of greenhouse farming.
Why is Clean Out Season Important?
Before the start of every new season, it is our top priority to prepare our greenhouses for the arrival of fresh crops. While greenhouse-grown plants have a longer growing season than you would see in a traditional farm or garden setting, they still have a limited life cycle. This means we will always need to remove old crops from our greenhouses so we can prepare for the arrival of a new season’s crop.
Throughout our regular season, we also have very strict hygiene protocols that we adhere to, so clean out season is the ideal time to reassert those protocols and start a fresh season off in the cleanest, most organized environment possible. After all, a clean greenhouse is key for creating the perfect growing environment for young plants!
The Greenhouse Clean Out Process
Preparing our greenhouses for new crops involves everything from removing old plants and growing media, to washing the entire greenhouse structure from top to bottom, to proactively managing any pests our team discover during the clean out process.
All our greenhouses operate on different seasonal schedules to ensure our commodities are available year-round. This means that the clean out process occurs in different seasons for different operations. Most of our greenhouse farms based in Ontario begin their clean out season in the middle of November, while the clean out process for some of our newest Ontario greenhouses takes place in the springtime. In our Ohio-based greenhouses, clean out season takes place throughout July and August.
When it comes to clean out season, every crop requires a different approach. This is why our team sets aside 21 to 28 working days from the last harvest to the placement of the next season’s baby plants to complete the clean out process.
Let’s take a closer look at all the steps involved with the greenhouse clean out process.
One of the first stages of the clean out process involves removing old plant debris and growing media, as well as a range of growing supplies, from our greenhouses.
Removing debris is one of the hardest parts of clean out season. With hundreds of thousands of plants to remove, along with all the coconut fiber slabs and other growing materials, our team needs to be meticulous – this way, they don’t miss any spare debris during the clean out process.
In order to minimize waste from the clean out process, our team is also trialing exciting new growing materials, many of which are compostable or reusable. These trials are yet another example of how our team is committed to exploring and introducing new sustainable growing practices and programs!
Cleaning from Top to Bottom
Once all the loose debris is removed from our greenhouses, it’s time to clean every inch of our facilities! We clean the floors, the windows, the gutters, the walkways, and everything in-between. A thorough cleaning ensures we remove any traces of dirt, bacteria, diseases, or pests from our greenhouses so we can start fresh with a new crop of young plants. Cleaning our greenhouses is one of the best proactive steps we can take to set ourselves up for a successful season.
Final Pest Sweep
As soon as we’ve finished cleaning our greenhouse structures from top to bottom, our Growing team hangs sticky cards throughout our greenhouses in order to catch any bad bugs that have somehow survived the clean out process. If our sticky cards start to catch a lot of bad bugs, we take the necessary steps to eliminate them from the greenhouse environment before preparing our facilities for the arrival of new plants.
Preparing the Greenhouse for New Plants
Once our greenhouses are completely clean and there are no bad bugs in sight, our team can begin bringing in all the new growing media – in our case, this is compressed coconut fiber slabs. Once the slabs are positioned along every row in the greenhouse, we insert irrigation drippers into the slabs to saturate the coconut fiber with fresh nutrient water.
At this point the only thing left to do is wait for new plants to arrive! We give ourselves as much time as possible between finishing the clean out process and delivering propagated plants to their new home to ensure we are well prepared for the start of planting season.
The Best Part of Clean Out Season
Everyone can agree that the best part of clean out season is the end, when our team gets to enjoy greenhouses filled with a lush new crop. All the debris removal, cleaning, and preparation that comes with clean out season is worth it when we see how fresh our greenhouses look with promising new plants!
Want to learn more about the fun that comes after clean out season? Discover all there is to know about planting season!