“For cut hydrangeas, this greenhouse is ideal”

10 November 2022 | Int. Greenhouse Guide | Rovero BV

Hydrangea grower Hendrik Muilwijk from Stolwijk (NL) is happy with Rovero tunnel:

Young hydrangea grower Hendrik Muilwijk bought a small nursery with an old greenhouse in 2018. A good year later, this one went to the ground and he built himself, with the help of befriended construction workers, a Rovero arch greenhouse. “That one suits me very well. From early June to mid-November, I cut beautiful, hard branches here. That’s thanks to the climate: softer than outside, harder than in a glasshouse. For cut hydrangeas, that’s ideal.”

That Rovero makes robust arched greenhouses with high-quality film, the young entrepreneur knew for some time. His father, who specializes in the outdoor cultivation of Ilex, has been using one for years. So when Hendrik made the move to his own company in 2018, he knew where to turn.

What immediately stands out are the extraordinary dimensions of the greenhouse built in 2020. 220 meters wide and only 20 meters long is certainly not an everyday occurrence. It has everything to do with the plot structure in Krimpenerwaard, which lies well below sea level. Long, narrow plots (or in this case: a short, wide plot) are surrounded by narrow ditches, which must guarantee smooth drainage of the polder’s drainage system.

Modest investment
“For a greenhouse, the plot is not ideal, but this place is close to my heart,” Muilwijk explains. “And I was able to save costs by carrying out the new construction myself with the help of construction friends. The greenhouse skeleton is of well-considered simplicity, so the job was done fairly quickly. That way I could still start my own business responsibly.”

Good first year
In addition to the 4,400 m2 greenhouse, Muilwijk grows another 6,000 m2 of Ilex verticillata outside. He had already learned that trick from his father. In November 2020 he cut the first branches. “The country was still in the middle of the corona crisis, but there was a lot of demand for flowers and plants, also abroad,” he says. “As a result, we did very well in 2021, our first full year.”

The cultivation of Hydrangea (Hortensia), which is the main product despite the smaller area in sales, was already started before the new greenhouse was built. Hendrik had purchased rooted young plants in 2-liter pots, which he transferred to 10-liter pots and further cultivated at a colleague friend’s house. “When winter came, the greenhouse was ready and the plants could go in. Exactly according to plan,” he says with a satisfied smile.

Facade ventilation and screens
Meanwhile (June 2022) the second harvest season of the cut hydrangeas has begun. The peak falls in August/September, around mid-November Muilwijk expects to harvest the last branches of the season. After that, the plants are pruned and go into rest.

“Because of the special dimensions and the small volume, ridge ventilation was unnecessary and we can easily suffice with ventilation through the facade,” says Hendrik about the cultivation. “Usually only the leeward side is open, which keeps the greenhouse climate reasonably homogeneous. When the nights get colder, I manually pull the energy screen closed to make it easier to keep the greenhouse frost-free. An automatic screen system remains an option, but was initially too expensive for me. Until now, I think it works fine like this.”

“In terms of price and quality, the greenhouse is exactly what we were looking for.”

Grateful for good start
All in all, Muilwijk Cut Flowers had an excellent start. “In terms of price and quality, the greenhouse is exactly what we were looking for,” Hendrik summarizes. “My wife and I can make a good living from the business and we are grateful for that now that our first child is on the way. In time, we hope to be able to continue to grow and optimize the business setup. When, where and how? I’m not really concerned with that at this point.”

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