Green Spaces, Green Practices

Weekend guests reuse pots to plant cuttings to take home

The greenhouse and garden areas at main camp have been making a lot of headway in using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Our Garden Educational Manager, Alex Ritzheimer, is constantly looking for ways to improve upon programs and here are just a few of the “green” ways he practices what he preaches:

  • Alex estimates 75%-80% of the compost he uses to make his soil mixtures for potting plants comes from Frost Valley’s own composting facility.
  • During the summer, campers help to collect seeds from wildflowers and other plants to save for starting many plants for the following growing season.
  • Pots are reused for different purposes rather than purchasing new ones.
  • The greenhouse program has consistently practiced taking cuttings—or slips—from existing plants and rooting them so guests can re-pot them to take home. It is a sustainable way to grow new plants from flowers and ornamentals.
  • Blankets are used on the intake and outtake fans during the coldest months of the year in order to reduce heat loss. Additionally, the greenhouse thermostat has been upgraded to a digital model that automatically opens and closes the louvers on the fans in a more efficient manner.
  • Although the greenhouse has a lighting system, it is rarely turned on; instead staff rely on natural lighting to shine on the work area.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is used to help control harmful insects. What is IPM? It is simply the use of beneficial insects such as native ladybugs, lace wings and praying mantis to cut down on whiteflies, aphids and other harmful pests.
  • In addition to IPM, the greenhouse and garden areas employ organic methods of ridding the plants of harmful pests such as hand picking Japanese beetles and spraying plants with organic Neem oil.
  • The garden area has a drip irrigation system installed each spring to reduce the amount of water used during the growing season.
  • The front entrance planting to Frost Valley is filled with native plants that are deer and mouse resistant and drought tolerant, requiring less resources to maintain.

While not an exhaustive list, it shows by purposely looking to come up with ways to eliminate loss of natural resources and use sustainable practices, the staff recognizes Earth Day as every day.

A few weeks ago we planted some of our first seeds in our newly renovated greenhouse.  A bit more than two weeks later, you can already see the new plants shooting up.  Despite being a chilly day, the greenhouse manages to stay quite hot.

Below, you can see water droplets that have held on to this young broccoli leaf-

Space

Are you interested in learning more about organic gardening?  Check back for more updates and green living tips in weeks to come.  Our greenhouse will soon have plenty more things growing.  You can also take a look at The Frost Valley Farm and Farm Camp, one of our amazing summer programs.

At the beginning of the winter, our greenhouse was given a complete renovation.  The plastic has been replaced, and everything inside has been cleaned out.  This has allowed us to begin the process of replanting for the upcoming season, and has given some of our staff the chance to improve their understanding of planting and gardening.

Once everything is in place, we hope to start having guests help out in our greenhouse in order to learn more about organic gardening and ‘green’ lifestyle choices that can help in protecting the environment.  Although there is nothing growing just yet, it won’t be long before the long beds of fresh soil have small spouts appearing.   Stop in on your next trip to the Valley and see what progress we have made!