Organic Plug Production: Evaluating Growing Media, Fertilizer and Economic Feasibility

Final Report for FNE03-468

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2003: $2,954.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $2,605.00
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Brenda Hedges
Greystone Gardens
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE03-468

The goals of this project were to evaluate the economic feasibility of operating an organic plug production facility in the Northeast and to compare the efficacy of three media types and two fertilizers.

Brenda analyzed the economics of the organic plug production system based on purchasing and erecting a 30x96 double poly greenhouse with ebb and flow benches, supplemental lighting, and an environmental control system. Cash flow projections included loan proceeds to purchase the greenhouse and equipment; actual seed, media, and fertilizer costs; and historic utility and overhead costs. To test the media and fertilizer, six groups of seventeen trays each were set up. Each set of trays had a different combination of media and fertilizer. Germination and growth rates for each tray were recorded.

Brenda found that organic plug production is economically feasible in the Northeast and that growing plugs actually produced more income per square foot of production space than growing traditional bedding plants. Her results indicated that the organic germinating mix she used performed better overall than did an organic compost and a peat based media. Her fertilizer experiment indicated that a fertilizer made from liquefied fish protein with an analysis of 2-4-2 performed better than a fertilizer made from liquid fish and seaweed with an analysis of 3-2-2.

Brenda plans to continue growing organic plugs for other growers and hopes to continue testing the interactions of media and fertilizer to be able to produce consistently high quality organic plugs.


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  • Allen Matthews


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.