The Business of New

– Robby Jourdan, Senior Business Student @ University of Georgia

After a few weeks of working anywhere you start decipher a pattern of question that visitors ask.  I enjoy these questions.  It’s a time for us to share our knowledge with others, inspire them, or maybe learn something ourselves. The most frequently asked question at the Trial Gardens is  the most relevant because it’s what keeps us in business.  When someone ask me “What’s new?” I get excited.  What would we do without new plants?  Seven UGA students (myself included) would be flipping hamburgers instead of working at a beautiful garden.  We have dozens and dozens of new plants, however, we’re going beyond that. We have new ideas.  Horticulture is an ever changing industry and we are changing with it while still maintaining our roots. Here are some of the ways we are staying relevant in the world of Horticulture.

1.  Containers – We have always had containers and hanging baskets.  This year we have so many hanging baskets and containers that I don’t see how they even fit.  It all started after Dr. Armitage visited the Spring pack trials in California.  He came back with a plan to double, nay triple our baskets and containers.  The home gardener is looking for convenience and what better way than to have a back porch filled with beautiful hanging baskets and containers.  The feed back from this has been great plus we’ve created more room for plants which is a huge plus considering we are surrounded by concrete.

2.  Vegetable Gardening – Johannah really fought for her vegetable garden and she won.  I’m happy because I get to snack on fresh tomatoes and peppers during work.  The visitors are happy because they can get ideas for their own veggie gardens.  We have dwarf veggies that are in containers, a great way to offer the busy homeowner a way to implement fresh veggies into their diet.

3.  Broadcasting to the world – Beth and Holly have put us on the web in a big way.  Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, we do it all.  What a better way to market and share ideas than social utility sites.   The blog is great because it gives us a chance to put our thoughts on paper (well, on the computer).  I know we are late on this one, but we are keeping up with the changing world.

4.  Aquaponics – This has been a project that’s special to me.  Aquaponics is a combination of Aquaculture (fish farming) and Hydroponics (gardening without soil).  It’s a completely sustainable practice because nothing is going to waste.  It’s a fantastic hands on education tool for Biology, Engineering and Horticulture.  The only downside is the system start up is expensive, usually about $500 for a home system.  My goal is to create an aquaponics system for $200 or less that is easy to set up, use, and maintain.  Investors are always welcome!

5.  New Perennial/Annual bed – Yes, we have planted to the concrete.  When a Gallardia that roots on the concrete comes out we will plant those too.  Our new bed is located on the south side of the greenhouses and has really taken off.  The new Pharmacy building took away half of our garden a few years ago, but now we have been deemed “Campus Greenspace”, so we will be here for a while.

We are busy maintaining the old but always have time for the new.  Students working at the garden are always bringing in fresh ideas for us and we are always ready to implement them.  So now the question is what do you think?  Is there anything new that you would like to see at the Gardens?  Anything you think that we should or shouldn’t be doing?

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