Frisch family wants end to tough winter|
|At the Frisch Greenhouses in Antigo, there is no doubt this has been a difficult winter.|
Tremendous cold and chilling winds, which have set records in central Wisconsin cities and counties, sent the heat bills soaring at the large Seventh Avenue glass-covered building.
The winter that just won’t give up — at least not yet — is demanding a bit more heat with the arrival of the traditional planting season.
Jim Frisch, who cares for thousands and thousands of plants, called the winter season a “perfect storm.”
Because of continuing upgrades in the heating equipment and installation of complex moisture and ventilation systems, the traditional March activities are well underway in a very comfortable setting.
On Wednesday, members of the firm’s crew were working on geraniums, one of the staples of summer. They were using seedlings and cuttings that will yield the plants and even more blooms in several months.
Frisch explained that the greenhouse idles a bit during the deep winter months, growing a number of plants in a more segregated area near the showroom.
But once March and April come along, the heat goes up, and the planting and growing really get rolling. Plans are made for the summer retail facility here, and at other sites in northern Wisconsin serviced by the firm.
Frisch pointed out the sensor system that reads the moisture and heat, explaining they have been essential to lowering costs, especially during a tough winter.
“Years back there were two huge boilers,” he added, which has a tremendous price tag as fuel prices started rising.
The additional heat demand so far this winter for the greenhouse is being estimated at 25 to 30 percent, and while the price of natural gas is not absolutely punishing, the increase this year has been from 62 cents to about 80 cents per therm.
Frisch noted that some greenhouses fueled with propane in more rural areas have simply closed because of price spikes with fuel that were substantial and impossible to predict or fund.
Frisch is looking for better conditions to come quickly. The National Weather Service is predicting highs in the upper 30s in a week and hopefully the legendary winter may be starting to fade, even if a bit late.
“It has been challenging,” Frisch said. But there are thousands of plants already getting ready for summer flower beds and gardens.
Carol Hofrichter and Chris Arrowood worked on geraniums Wednesday afternoon at Frisch Greenhouses.
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