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ALMOST THERE: Early Greenhouse Season

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Open April 1st and not a day before—though in a year like this, that’s almost a shame.

“Oh, you bet!" laughs Ann Borwick, one of the owners of Piney Ridge Greenhouse in Johnston. "You bet they’re chomping at the bit, this year, with the weather that we’re having.”

If the weather outside isn’t enough, the stock inside certainly is—enough to get thinking about a life outdoors, evenings on the deck, and an Iowa draped in colors other than brown.

“Each one of these plants you’ll get two feet of height, two feet of width on them and they’ll just bloom, bloom, bloom for you,” says Piney Ridge's David Lauritzen, pointing to impatiens.

Piney Ridge Greenhouse spends almost a full year preparing for the next six weeks, and there are years when April 1st is still winter—but 2012 is completely different.

“They’ve been calling for a couple of weeks and we even get people calling wondering if the tomatoes are ready, yet.  And that REALLY is jumping the gun!” says Borwick.

There’s a conflict of interests here, no doubt.  These locally-grown seedlings are ahead of schedule and ready to be sold, but these people are plant lovers...

Eager buyers will leave with words of warning.

“There is a 50% chance of frost in the Des Moines area," Lauritzen cautions, "all the way through to the 21st of April, so we’ve got some time ahead of us, here.”

Still, Iowa has spring on the brain and greenhouses are expecting record profits. Thankfully, they’re ahead of schedule, too.

“We have a gentleman who’s always field-grown creeping phlox that he digs up when it’s in bloom and we usually sell it," Borwick says, "and it’s usually a couple of weeks after we open, you know mid-April, he’s digging that today!”

And in a week, we’ll no doubt be carrying it home. But not before then.

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