The Greenhouse: In the spring of 1999 I realized I would not be able to fit all the plants back inside after a summer’s worth of growth in the hoophouse so I set about to get a greenhouse built and had a 30 x 48 foot structure erected behind my garage by that fall.
This picture of the new greenhouse interior was taken in October of 1999 just after all the plants from the basement moved in. I no longer grow orchids in the house, except for the light carts in a spare bedroom that hold the flasks of baby hybrid and species orchids I have made. The orchids have their own house now and I have my basement back. At least half of it. (Half the basement of my home is currently used to store potting, greenhouse and mail order packing supplies.)
It was about this time that I changed the name of the business to “Al’s Orchid Greenhouse” and established hours of operation when the greenhouse would be open to customers without the need to make an appointment.
It looks kind of empty doesn’t it? Just ten years ago, from the time of this writing. I had actually convinced myself it would take a decade or more to fill all that extra space and I began to build a series of triple decker bench units to house what I knew would be a tremendous influx of plants.
I designed the benches with electric lights and drip control so plants on lower benches would not be shaded or drowned by plants on upper benches. The set up with its narrow isles and stacked benches proved problematic as the business model moved away from mail order and oriented more toward walk-in customers, but it did solve the bench space problem. I eventually managed to fit LOTS of plants in this space and grow them well.