Rising energy prices are also causing problems for many nurseries. An example from Neumagen-Dhron, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, shows that plant cultivation can nevertheless be worthwhile.
Gardener Vera Krebs loves her job. She is standing in the greenhouse at her nursery in Neumagen-Dhron. The young geraniums already have a lot of green. Even the one or other blossom in rosé or red. She plucks off a bit of wilting. “February and March are basically the most beautiful time,” she says “it already really smells like plants and growth.”
Family-owned nursery since 1904
Vera Krebs grows most of her plants herself. She took over the nursery in Neumagen-Dhron from her father. The company was founded by her great-grandfather in 1904. “The nursery has already survived two wars,” says Vera Krebs. She is also feeling the current energy crisis. For example, she says, electricity costs have risen slightly.
As far as heating the greenhouses is concerned, the entrepreneur is glad that her father installed a woodchip heating system back in the 1980s. The wood chips have also become more expensive – but moderately so, if one were to compare this with the increased costs of oil heating, for example, says Vera Krebs.
The Krebs nursery in Neumagen-Dhron heats with wood chips
The large stove has to be refilled with wood chips every few hours. It is located in the smallest greenhouse of the nursery. It is pleasantly warm there. “The heat that the heater gives off is used, of course.”
In this greenhouse are currently very small seedlings. They need a lot of heat. And they get it from the waste heat of the woodchip heating system. The tomato seedlings are not even two centimeters high at the moment.
So that the seedlings do not hinder each other in their growth, they are separated – pricked out, as they are called in gardening jargon. Then they are placed in their own small pots and, after a while, in another greenhouse that is about two degrees cooler. Because the larger the plants become, the less sensitive, they become.
Energy screen saves up to 30 percent of energy costs in the greenhouse 16 degrees is what the thermometer reads in the larger, cooler greenhouse. “Energy can be saved here, too,” says Vera Krebs. At night or even on cloudy days, she extends the so-called energy screen. This is a kind of curtain that is pulled forward. It separates the upper area of the greenhouse. Only the lower part is then heated. This saves up to 30 percent of energy costs.
All in all, growing plants is still worthwhile even in times of energy crisis, says the gardener. “Because a lot of things just come together in my business,” says Vera Krebs. The greenhouses of different sizes, which don’t all have to be heated at the same time, the woodchip heating, the waste heat that can be used, and the energy screen.
It also saves on costs by making its own soil as well as fertilizer. Rainwater is also collected. In terms of work, much of the nursery is run by the family. In addition, there are one or two seasonal workers.
Many regular customers appreciate the handiwork and the good quality.
About 95 percent of the customers at the Krebs nursery are self-pickup customers. In addition, there are also restaurants or hotels that are supplied.
Around the end of April, the nursery starts selling the first summer bloomers – such as geraniums, fuchsias, and male chaff. “Some customers also want summer plants earlier,” says Vera Krebs. But then you would have to start growing them even earlier in the winter. That would consume more energy, and the end of April would be a better time in view of the Frost Saints. Because then you can see whether the temperatures will drop again by then or whether you can already plant.
Prices for flowers and vegetable plants will rise only slightly
Prices for summer plants will, therefore, only rise slightly this year at Vera Krebs. Vera Krebs is expecting five to seven percent at the most.
The master gardener is already looking forward to the end of April when everything will be in wonderful bloom. Then she can start selling summer flowers again.