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Published Articles

Waverly Farm owner Jerry Faulring writes a regular column called ‘It’s Time for Sharing’ for Free State Nursery, Landscape & Greenhouse News, a publication of the Maryland Nursery, Landscape, and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). Published three times each year, Jerry’s articles are straight up stories of his successes and failures on the Farm with an intent to reflect on his experiences as a grower and share what he’s learned.

6 minute read

High Clearance Tractor

An overview of a versatile nursery tool

High clearance tractors have come a long way since they were MacGyvered in the field by farmers trying to solve agricultural problems on the fly. When Waverly was looking at high clearance tractors, we needed a versatile solution that would help with planting, spraying, cultivation, and weed control. It’s doing that plus reducing labor and chemical costs.

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5 minute read

No More Spring Panic Here...Maybe

Key data points for managing stress in the craziest season

Spring at a field production nursery can yield hair on fire anxiety. Every year we go like hell to get the deciduous plants dug before they come into full leaf, and every year the deadline looms at a different date. Managing the anxiety starts with a deep data dive into degree days.

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healthy field grown boxwood plants at the nursery

7 minute read

Coping With Boxwood Blight

Saving a staple of the American landscape

Boxwood blight is here and not going away anytime soon. We can either learn to adapt and manage it, or stop planting boxwood--which is unthinkable. We choose to adapt and manage. Fungicides are proving an effective treatment if blight is found in planted boxwood, and resistant plants are being developed in Europe.

Boxwood Blight
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12 minute read

Your H2A and H2B Audit is Coming!

What to do when the Department of Labor comes knocking

If you find yourself being audited by the Federal Department of Labor, understand this: The investigation is not a process to teach you how to do a better job, to educate, and everyone feels good. The process is to find errors and mistakes. If your ducks are in a row, it will be less excruciating

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4 minute read

Hazards of Biting Critters

Why a bite from a poisonous creature should not be ignored

Even with the best precautions, field workers are liable to get bitten by spiders and other critters with which we share the outdoors. Sometimes these can lead to infections and even become life-threatening if not taken seriously. Beware that, aside from the locals, uncommon insects and arachnids can always hitch a ride from other regions and wind up on your land.

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fire-at-waverly-farm-destroys-buildings-and-equipment

9 minute read

Fire at Waverly Farm… and What You Need to Know!

It’s a nightmare scenario - your entire business burning down. Our loss was well over a million dollars in equipment, infrastructure, and supplies. We could have been better covered for not much more in premium. We won’t make that mistake again. No small business owner wants to take the time to prepare a disaster plan. Do it anyway.

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Towson-nurseries-plant-price-catalog-circa-1930

3 minute read

Plant Prices Stay the Same Since 1930!

Feeling the pinch of stable retail prices while the cost of doing business skyrockets

Dusting off an old Towson’s Nursery catalog and doing a little sleuthing, I discovered that the inflation adjusted price we sell our plants at today has remained fairly steady. The shocking part comes when you see that the cost of doing business has gone way up. Way up. So the question is: are you slowly going broke from under charging?

landscape industry trends
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tractor-spreads-compost-at-field-production-nursery

5 minute read

Soil Loss from a Field Production Nursery

Sustainably managing soil health as a cost of doing business

What is the best way for growers to replace soil that gets shipped out with each root ball? Replacement cost for high quality soil is prohibitively expensive. So, many of us turn a blind eye to the problem. But you can only ignore soil loss for so long. A reliable soil replacement system will cost you, but it sure beats the alternative.

Soil Management
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boxwood-compliance-identification-guide

11 minute read

Boxwood Blight Compliance Agreement

Why you should strongly consider putting a BCCA in place

Waverly Farms signed a Boxwood Blight Compliance Agreement this year and we encourage as many growers as possible to join this program. Pest free production for a plant included in nearly every landscape design plan in the region, just makes good business sense. Implementing the agreement has had a ripple effect into how we think about managing pest transmission as a way of life.

Boxwood Blight
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airplane-spraying-fields-with-herbicide

7 minute read

Off Target Herbicide Damage...Could Change Your Life Forever

Why “sharing” herbicide with neighbors is not someone else’s problem

Loss of beauty, biodiversity, and for so many of us, our livelihood due to herbicide damage is enough to keep you up at night. Off-target herbicide can occur because of spray drift and -this may surprise you- through temperature inversion. The problem is becoming more serious in Maryland, but so far has not been getting nearly enough attention.

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16 minute read

How Do Field Growers Price Plants?

Taking the mystery out of pricing field production plants

Is your nursery business slowly, imperceptibly losing money with each plant you sell? Having a comprehensive cost based system for setting plant prices at a profit is a crucial subject in our business. Yet all too often it is a subject we avoid or dread, like talking about the “birds and the bees” with our children.

Plant Pricing
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6 minute read

Propagation by Rooted Stem Cuttings

Finding satisfaction in supplying your own plant inventory needs

There’s a particular kind of satisfaction in growing plants from cuttings to supply your field production business. With cuttings from your own production land, there is no risk of importing pests into your business. That is a big plus. It also gives you flexibility to respond to unanticipated demand and a way to increase inventory without a lot of outside help.

Plant Propagation
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remote-wireless-irrigation-for-field-production-nurseries

6 minute read

Remote Wireless Irrigation

The art and science of soil moisture monitoring

Imagine these outcomes: Produce better plants with approximately one year less in the growing cycle. Reduce water consumption and labor costs. That’s what we gained after we installed automatic control of our irrigation with a wired system. Our new wireless system has the same benefits plus allows for remote control of irrigation even when electricity is down.

Field Irrigation
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graphic-shows-legal-conflict-among-employees-and-employer

4 minute read

Are You a Negligent Employer?

A non-legally binding primer in how to not be

Even this abstract needs a disclaimer: The following is not intended to pass muster as legal advice. So to avoid a lawsuit, I make no claim for accuracy or legality. You can be held negligent in the areas of hiring, retention, supervision, and training, to name a few. Believe it or not, a company handbook can actually head off these and other potential employer/employee entanglements.

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original-waverly-farm-homestead-circa-1700

9 minute read

The History of Waverly Farm’s Land

A non-legally binding primer in how to not be

I’ve researched back to colonial days and found that ownership of the land now called Waverly Farm parcel can be traced to one of the most important families in Maryland’s history: the Carrolls. There were actually three Charles Carrolls who, from the 1600s through the 1800s, owned large parts of Maryland including the parcel eventually named Waverly Farm. There is a LOT of history in this place!

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field-production-nursery-yard-with-balled-and-burlaped-plant-stock

4 minute read

Fall Digging for Spring Shipping A Customer Service

The pros and cons (but mostly pros) of fall digging for spring shipping

We have traditionally been aggressive with fall digging as a tactic aimed at making the chaos of the spring rush a bit less chaotic. Root balls are ‘healed in’ with an appropriate material and held until it’s time to ship them the next spring. With an abundance of fall dug material above ground, our customers are thrilled to start receiving loads in late February.

Fall Digging
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erosion-caused-by-improper-soil-managment

7 minute read

Soils Have a Nasty Habit of Moving

How to manage erosion in your nursery operation

Soil erosion is common for several reasons: 1) rate of rainfall exceeds a soil’s ability to absorb it, 2) lack of vegetation, 3) compacted and or poorly drained soils limit infiltration. We cannot control the rate of rainfall, but we can control the other variables. Compacted soil can be addressed with the right tillage equipment along with compost and soil amendments.. Cover crops can keep soil from wandering, too.

Soil Management
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7 minute read

The Art and Science of Summer Digging

Improving cash flow and customer experience by extending your digging season

Summer digging of field grown plants provides significant advantages for landscape contractors and wholesale distribution yards. ‘Just-in-time’ material sourcing delivers freshly dug material on the exact day needed, often right to the job site. With some experimentation you can devise a system for summer digging that succeeds. After 15+ years of working at it, we have successfully dug almost every plant in production, even during hot droughty weather.

Field production
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irrigation-zone-meter-in-field-at-landscaper-plant-nursery

7 minute read

Driving Down Irrigation Costs - Part 2

Why more - especially when it comes to water - is not always better

In one of our irrigation experiments here, we installed soil moisture sensing stations and remote controls monitored by a flow meter. We discovered we’d been over irrigating since the beginning! You might think that more water (not over-watering) rather than less would be good for plants. Our experiment showed that less water made available precisely when the plant needs it produces a better plant.

Field Irrigation
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precision-planting-machine-for-field-grown-hedges

4 minute read

Reinvent the Wheel

How three European companies are revolutionizing commercial hedge production - by “reinventing” the wheel

Reinventing the wheel is bad, right? That’s what I thought. But a ten day tour of nurseries and equipment manufacturing facilities in The Netherlands and Germany caused me to redefine my understanding of “reinvent”. We value the invention of new things. Yet improving existing methods or machinery, without a patentable outcome, can be just as valuable toward improving efficiency, productivity, and comfort--all with astounding gains. This is where creative reinvention rises to the level of pure invention.

Field production
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method-using-compost-heat-to-warm-plant-propagation-operations

5 minute read

Compost Pile to Heat Generator

Turning a steaming pile of horse manure into an energy efficient asset

Back in 2009, I wanted to take my mind off the misery we were all enduring. My thoughts quickly drifted to horse manure. Our compost windrows produce enormous amounts of heat with sustained temperatures in the range of 145F. There had to be a way to harness that heat and use it in our plant propagation operation. Our invention, the “Propagation Hut,” has worked out pretty well.

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mychorrizal-fungae-in-soil-benefits-plants

3 minute read

Mycorrhizae

Should growers inoculate soil with mycorrhizal fungi when planting liners - Yes? or No?

Mycorrhizal fungal filaments in the soil act as extensions of a root system-- and are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots themselves! More than 90 percent of plant species in natural areas form a symbiotic relationship with their beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. Aside from enhancing plant efficiency in absorbing water and nutrients, mycorrhizal interaction with root systems reduces fertilization and irrigation requirements.

Soil Management
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cash-flow-and-cost-analysis-forecasting-for-wholesale-nurseries

11 minute read

Cash Flow Wins the Day...Now More Than Ever

You can’t mind the store if you don’t know where the money is going

For growers, crunching the numbers is not much fun when compared to other aspects of running a nursery business. That’s how I felt when I was just starting out. That is, until I turned financial analysis into a game. The game, simple enough, was to prepare a cash flow statement and compare the forecast with actual results each month. Then you can start doing annual forecasts. Over time, you will start to see opportunities...

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10 minute read

The Soil Food Web

The three elements of a healthy soil ecosystem

Healthy soil is composed of an interconnected web of vibrant living organisms. When managed respectfully, no synthetic inputs are required. In the reverse, if we abuse healthy soil, we will end up doing stupid things to force it to cooperate with our efforts. A healthy soil ecosystem includes arthropods, bacteria, fungi, and plant roots. Working together, they provide all the nutrition needed for plants to thrive. Organic matter, not fertilizer, is the key to maintaining a healthy soil food web.

Soil Management
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marketing-success-equals-nursery-business-success

8 minute read

Successful Marketing is the Art of Not Competing On Price

Why businesses that fail at marketing fail period

The only way a business succeeds in creating positive cash flow and profits for future investment and cash reserves is through great marketing resulting in sales. Enterprises that engage in great marketing make it through the toughest of times. Good marketing is all about your company’s ability to identify the customer, satisfy the customer, and keep the customer.

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IMANTS-tiller-enriching-soil-with-compost

10 minute read

Perfecting Landscape Soils

It's all about compost composition

Making your landscape soil as perfect as possible isn’t just a matter of throwing compost at it. Compost composition can vary widely, and can be either fungal or bacterial dominated. It is believed that fungal dominated soils favor the growth of woody plants and perennials while bacterial dominated soils favor the growth of food bearing plants, annuals, and grasses. So you’ve got to start with an analysis of the proposed organic matter to be incorporated.

Soil Management
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