Lockwoods’ trickery readies plants months in advance

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — Although he can’t control everything, there are some things Harry Lockwood doesn’t leave up to chance — even if they’re still out of his soiled hands.

“Luck. This whole business is luck,” he laughed.

Lockwood’s Greenhouses in Hamburg is a 100-year-old greenhouse. And in that century, they’ve perfected the art tricking plants into their spring readiness — sometimes months ahead of schedule — or, what’s known in the industry as vernalization.

“It’s changing the habit of when that plant is going to produce something,” Lockwood said.

That’s not an easy task, especially in the sometimes unforgiving climate of western New York.

“The seasons are all different, and the challenges are all different,” he said.

Perhaps the best example of playing with Mother Nature’s calendar are the lilies, which normally wouldn’t be ready until June or even July. But thanks to the steps employed by the employees at Lockwood’s, they’ll be ready just in time for Easter.

And if Mother Nature wasn’t a moving target, sometimes the calendar is as well.

“They change Easter every year,” Lockwood laughed. “So it varies every year how you do it, how you plant it.”

Also, rather than pesticides, Lockwood’s also relies heavily on good bugs, or beneficials, to get rid of the bad.

“It’s more natural to control them that way,” said grower Rebecca Burtch.

She said customers appreciate that approach.

“As we use pesticides more and more, the bugs become resistant to them. Then they won’t work anymore and you have to invent a new pesticide and it’s just a nasty cycle.”

It’s all part of the challenge to stay ahead, and be ready for nature’s next move, Lockwood said.

“Those are the things that make it fun,” he said. “It’s exciting to come out to work.”

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