Demonstration Garden

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Virtual Tour of our Facilities

If you have been to our Garden Center, you know there's a lot more here than a retail nursery. If you haven't, we'd like to take this opportunity to show you around.

Puget Ridge Garden Center is one of the educational facilities for the Landscape Horticulture program here at SSCC. As we've described in the sidebar, the garden center gives students hands-on experience with the tasks involved in a retail business.

Along with that, we teach classes in propagation and greenhouse management. Here students learn to produce most of the plant material sold in the garden center.
Many plants, like tomatoes, peppers and basil, are started from seed. Trays are filled with starter soil and seeds are sown into it. Seeds that need extra heat in order to germinate are placed in a sort of incubator "tent," as you see above, with translucent plastic above and a heating pad under the plant trays. When the seedlings have sprouted and grown a bit, students take the trays from the greenhouse to the adjacent "head house," (see below) where the tedious job of transplanting those tiny seedlings into individual pots takes place.
Once they are potted up, the plants return to the greenhouse to grow to a salable size. Here are basil plants in the greenhouse, close to being ready.
Some plants, such as woody shrubs, are propagated by way of cuttings. Others, such as perennials, are propagated by division. All go through a process of growing on in the greenhouse. When plants have reached the right size for sale, it's time to move them to the cold frame (below) so they can "harden off."
The hardening off process involves acclimating plants so that they can survive the cold, wind and direct sun outdoors. The cold frame is unheated, yet protected from the harshest of the elements, providing comfortable transition housing. Once that process is complete, the plants are moved out into the display area.
Students also propagate all of the house plants sold at the garden center. Above you see a healthy grouping of succulents. And below, a stunning orchid.

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