As you know, we grow all our flowers in soil.
This rich, organic matter--a special mix of our own compost, tree mulch, and some sand--is partly responsible for our strong tulips, big lilies, and beautiful irises.
|Soil grown tulips|
Because we are dedicated to planting all our crops in this nutrient-rich soil, you can bet this equals some serious heavy lifting. The first step of the process is planting bulbs in soil-filled crates, and then we must lay out those crates in a line--typically thousands to one greenhouse bay. We do this almost every single day, and, just as often, we are cleaning up rows of spent crates and picked-out flowers, preparing the bay for the next round of growing flowers.
|Greenhouse bays packed with soil-filled crates|
One crate probably weighs around a million pounds. Okay, realistically, more like 25 pounds, but to me that might as well equal a million. Luckily, in the last few years, Sun Valley has acquired our treasured TERRA MACHINE.
This machine picks up and drops crates in a straight line, which makes life a whole lot easier for our team of crop-tenders. As you can imagine, lifting and setting down crates full of soil for 8 hours a day is not a friend to anyone's body, no matter how strong or healthy they may be.
|Inside the Terra Machine|
How It Work : Planting
The Terra Machine is run by two team members who ensure it is operating safely and properly. They set up the tracks it will move on, load the machine with ready-to-go crates, and start her up. Its first function is to "drop" the crates in an even line.
|Terra Machine dropping sprouted crates of tulips|
|The finished greenhouse|
How it Works: Clean-Up
Once we have harvested the flowers, the Terra Machine is brought back into the greenhouse, where the planting process is repeated, but this time in reverse. The Terra Machine picks up those same crates so that we can collect the spent soil and steam and reuse it.
|The Terra Machine picking-up spent crates|
The Terra Machine is just one of the tools that we use in our efforts to continually improve and innovate. The machine helps maintain consistent planting practices, which makes tending and picking the flowers easier and more efficient, all the while protecting the backs of our team members and, of course, providing the world that famous Sun Valley color.
Just a little help from our Terra Machine.