How to Prepare for a Greenhouse Job

This is written for my mom, who is excited to start her first farm job (besides coming to work with me) this week.

  1. You already know it’s warm in a Greenhouse. Being in there all day will make your skin shrivel up from the heat and humidity and soak your shirt with sweat. Dress in light, loose layers that allow for sun protection and won’t make you overheat! Scrub pants and woven button ups are easy to find at Goodwill.
  2. You will sweat more than you ever thought possible. If you aren’t sure about proximity of potable water to your workstation, I love the Igloo half gallon jug to refill my 1 liter bottle that I carry with me. The Igloo jug is always on sale at Dick’s for Little Leaguers this time of year, and it’s insulated and will keep you water cold. For my 1 liter bottle I often opt for refilling seltzer bottles or making my husband drink a gatorade so I can have the bottle (their more durable than seltzer). Sure, I love my Nalgene with the Bernie sticker as much as the next UVM grad, but I love it enough to not want to loose it. On the occasions it does come to the farm with me, I can rest easy knowing it is bright orange. Never use a green water bottle.
  3. A bandana around the neck, drizzled with some ice water from your Igloo Jug can be your best friend.
  4. Sun hat. Sunscreen.
  5. If you’re anything like me, you will water the plants, as well as your shoes. Even if you don’t, your feet will sweat buckets. Bring a change of shoes or at least socks and change at lunch time.
  6. Wear comfy shoes. Sneakers or the like are fine and breath well, work boots are probably what OSHA thinks we should wear. The temptation is there and I’ve seen it done, but DON’T wear sandals.
  7. Bring sandals for the drive home!
  8. If you plan to run errands after work and this kind of thing bothers you, bring a change of clothes in case you are covered in potting soil or smell like fish emulsion.
  9. Food. Lots of it. You may want to think about snacks you can eat quickly with dirty hands like cheese sticks or bananas. I like to put my lunch in a hard sided cooler so I look bad@$$ like a construction worker. Low blood sugar + heat and humidity is not good.
  10. Plastic trays may not look like something you’d cut your hands on, but nor did a stack of paper before you got the first paper cut of your life. Wear gloves or at the very least know where the band-aids are (if not in your pocket).
  11. Cut your nails short. I don’t mind a little dirt under the nails but when they start to catch on things and get all funky its no fun. I suppose wearing gloves all the time might prevent this, too.
  12. Work gloves to me are like workout tank tops. You can never find the perfect one, can never have enough, and need a full quiver to have the right pair at the right time. Some folks swear by the rubber palm type because they allow great dexterity but they make you sweat a lot. I find the knit with painted dots gardening variety to be more breathable than rubber and more nimble than leather.
  13. Bring a knife. My favorite is a simple single blade buck knife with partial serration. Leave the full blown Leatherman at home, its weight may pull your pants down and, like the Nalgene, you’ll be bummed if you loose it.
  14. Take no offense to any critique of how you water plants. You may hear a lot of “water the soil, not the leaves,” but find in practice this is not possible. I have heard conflicting opinions of what individuals consider too wet or too dry for a plant so just do your best and take it all in stride.
  15. Go get ’em!!

 

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