They always seem to take you by surprise. Usually when you have your guard down. "Hey do you mind if I put my X in your greenhouse for the winter. Just in the corner where it won't be a bother?" I said yes, you said yes, and you know a bunch of other Ag teachers who said yes. Most lived to regret it. But if you've somehow dodged this bullet thus far in your career, steel yourself with the following countdown of when good intentions go bad.
1. Bugs - You go it or them...all over your greenhouse. Inspect the new plants, quarantine them, and wait and inspect them again. Then mysteriously everything in your greenhouse is covered in whatever your host plant brought through the door. Spider mites, mealy bugs, white flies, the list goes on and so do they. it really isn't the homeowner's fault. The bugs probably haven't been on their since mid summer, so they thought their plant had battled the bugs and won. Nope, they were hiding in the leaves or in the soil, or their offspring anyway. You set them up in the greenhouse Hilton and they came out to play. Remember, just say no.
2. This year it's one, next year the whole plant kingdom - That's right. No good deed goes unpunished. This year they bring in the prettiest Boston Fern they've ever had and just had to keep it until next year. Once they got a look at "all your space" the next fall comes around and they backed up a truck filled with one of everything from the local lawn and garden. And at that point you can't be rude. Well you can, but you won't. ---Check for helpful hints at the bottom.
3. It's always your fault - Yep, sure is. Because their plants never, ever had a bit of trouble until it came to your greenhouse and now it just looks neglected. Not really, it just needs a bigger pot and more soil. Or perhaps the local could put a dash of fertilizer in the pot just to shake things up once in the life of that plant. Or it needs to be divided about 8,423 times. Which you could do, but they want to keep all but one. They'll graciously let you keep the one Charlie Brown specimen you almost threw out when you took a class period to do their work for them.
4. Friends of friends - A version of #2. Contestant number 1 really only had a single plant but her next door neighbor Myrtle just has a couple more...dozen. Word travels fast when people hear they have a greenhouse rookie on the hook. Next thing you know half the town shows up with the first frost. It turns into a celebration complete with a tailgate.
5. Watering other people's plants on your day off - Yep, no joke. You'll be doing it or #3 rears it's ugly head. So guess where you'll be during Christmas break, Thanksgiving week, and every weekend you'd like to not go to the schoolhouse for once in your life.
6. Did I mention bugs - Yep, still there. 3 years later. They hop on every plant sale plant 2 days before you are ready to start the sale. You've even been tempted to clean out the greenhouse and shut down the fans one week in July just to smoke those boogers once and for all. Yeah don't do that. You might finally get them, but $10,000 later your greenhouse still doesn't work right. Isn't that right Catrina Pollard.
7. Disease - You sometimes it's hard to tell where diseases come from. But you know what it's probably their fault too. And those little devils really do come in to stay forever.
8. Your house becomes their house - It's like that girl/guy/whatever you dated for a while and...it's just too much. You know. They show up at times where you were perfectly happy being in the greenhouse with you and the fans and their bugs. It was a nice moment. And then they ask for a key...uh huh. That one tends to be an easy no. Because you lost the others and just have this one and the principal said I better not lose it.
So there you have it. An awesome reasons to say no, NO to anyone who wants to book a long-term stay at the high school greenhouse Hilton. Sometimes, politics may win out and you have to say yes, but that's not the end.
Check out my helpful hints post on how to get them to say no to you. Let's add to this list. Send me your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them below. Let's all hear the best greenhouse fail you've ever had.