Chamber News & Views: 44 years and still growing strong | NevadaAppeal.com

Chamber News & Views: 44 years and still growing strong

Ronni Hannaman

Greenhouse Garden Center owner David Ruf prepares for the coming planting season by acclimating his plants for your garden.

The Ruf family has been in the growing business for 44 years and has seen Carson City grow from a city of 12,000 to the 55,000 today.

Many of the plants and trees you see today could have been purchased at the Greenhouse Garden Center founded by patriarch, Robert, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Nevada.

Son David purchased the business 25 years ago and states, "I was a teenager when Dad decided to open a nursery on a one-acre plot and because we were so well-received, we expanded to two acres in the second year, three acres in the fourth year and 20 years ago, we grew by another two acres."

Greenhouse Garden Center was then — as it is now — the go-to place for gardeners who want to know the plant they are purchasing will live and thrive in our short growing season, in soil that is less than ideal for anything other than sagebrush. Ruf recalls, "When we first opened, there were seven small nurseries — now long gone — but we survived because of our variety and the knowledge we have about our plants and how to grow them in our climate."

When asked about what could be perceived as competition each spring from the big box stores, Ruf replied, "Their California plants are not acclimated to our local conditions and may not thrive, while our plants have been acclimated over the fall and winter months and have a much better chance of survival." Further adding, "We have a staff of about 50 who are constantly trained on how best to plant our over 3,000 flowering annual and perennials, trees and shrubs." In most box stores, the only knowledge an employee may have is how to ring up the plant.

As for those annuals like pansies, Ruf purchases his plants from growers in Washington State and Oregon instead of California because they are cold hardy and can adapt more easily to our capricious weather, often bringing frost until Memorial Day.

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"With over 500 hardy shrubs, sure to flourish in our climate, Greenhouse Garden Center is the largest purveyor of landscape plants in the region," Ruf proudly announced. He also features Oregon grown Monrovia plants and flowers, asserting they are the healthiest of all plants, well suited to Northern Nevada.

Northern Nevada's soil is not conducive to many garden plants and will need soil amendments — but not those found in most box stores — according to Ruf, because they are too alkaline, and our soil is already rather alkaline. He recommends Dr. Earth and Full Circle Compost made from our prison's organic debris, both readily available in bulk or bagged, containing no salts. The plants seem to prefer these non-alkaline amendments and grow larger and are hardier, he asserts.

Ruf holds training sessions throughout the growing season to teach gardeners — seasoned and new — how to successfully grow anything. Though free, he does ask for a small donation that goes right back into the community to feed our homeless population.

While perusing the many species of plants, be sure to drop in to browse the unique gift store to find items not normally found in local gift shops that will keep you coming back for home and jewelry items. Julie Ruf is the buyer and manager and tells all, "You'll not find a gift store like this in any other nursery since most items are not nursery related."

Expect to see some improvements to the center coming this spring to make your experience even more satisfying.

In honor of their 44th anniversary, drop in on Sunday, April 22, for their big sale and on Earth Day and Arbor Day, April 27, for the Earth Day Pay Dirt Sale and tree sale.

The award-winning Greenhouse Garden Center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning April 29. Evenings are reserved for special events. Be sure to check the website for a list of seminars such as how to grow tomatoes successfully scheduled for May 6. The center is at http://www.greenhousegardencenter.com, 2450 S. Curry St.