Venlo Greenhouse

December 31, 2002 - 13:12

The real story of the product and how it worked for these companies.

A low-maintenance, glass greenhouse with high-quality
results: Sound too good to be true? Find out here if the Dutch Venlo from Rough
Brothers is right for you.

Design

The Venlo offers maximum light transmission with low square
foot costs. Its tempered glass dry roof glazing prevents frequent reglazing and
maintenance. The truss system will support hanging baskets, displays, booms,
systems and other needed equipment. It was also designed for use with heat
retention and shading systems, reducing winter heat loss and summer heat gain
for maximizing energy efficiency.

The posts, gutters and bar joists are made of galvanized
structural steel. Polycarbonate sheet sides and endwalls provide thermal
insulation for better temperature regulation in the greenhouse throughout the
year.

The Venlo is available in standard 20-foot, 6-inch- and
30-foot, 9-inch-widths in bay lengths of 10 and 12 feet. An advanced computer
Auto-CAD system matches the Venlo house to your site demands. For wider
greenhouses, a gutter-connected building can be constructed in multiple widths
of 20 feet, six inches.

Growing Results

"One thing we see is that the foliage is a little
harder, which is a good thing," says Tim Donahue of Donahue's Clematis,
Fairbault, Minn. "I think we get a little better color too."
Donahue's Venlo has been erected for four years, and he hasn't had any problems
with it. "We haven't lost a single pane of glass."

According to Bill Vietas, divisional manager and vice
president at Rough Brothers, the better color is probably due to the glass'
higher light transmission. And, better ventilation with the Venlo is most
likely responsible for the hardening of the foliage.

Options

For those considering the Venlo, Donahue suggests a high gutter
height. "I think you just get better cooling in the summer, and I would go
with a shade system too -- that's very nice."

Kathy Pufahl, president of Beds and Borders in Riverhead,
N.Y., agrees that a shade system is a good idea. Pufahl did have a few problems
with her shade cloth, but Rough Brothers quickly identified the
manufacturer-related problem and handled the situation for her. "When it
was first manufactured it was cut wrong, and then they had to go and get it
re-cut and re-sealed or taped," Pufahl says. "And there was a gap
between the sidewall and the shade cloth. It didn't have either stationary
piece sealing the two or the original piece didn't go close enough to the wall,
so we had to go back in to seal up that gap around the perimeter."

Bill Vietas remembers that project and recalls the shade
cloth shrinking after it was installed, which is a common problem that should
have been addressed before the shade cloth was sent to Rough Brothers to
install.

So, how do you avoid something like that? "When you
install the curtain, you have to let it lay for a day or two," says
Vietas. "The longer you can, the better. Then it'll shrink on its own, and
you can fasten it down."

Words of advice

Both Donahue and Pufahl agree that they should've made their
aisles wider. "I don't have a standard 10:20 flat, so I wound up having
carts manufactured for myself, custom-sized, after the greenhouse was erected.
The center aisle is fine, that's 10 feet, but the peninsula aisleways I'd make
bigger," says Pufahl, who grows mostly finished pots.

Pufahl would also have had more lights installed. "We
just put them down the center walkways, and low and behold we are pulling some
orders after dark on occasion. There's not quite enough light at the ends of
some of the walkways," she says.

Last words

In the end, though, Donahue and Pufahl are both happy with
their decision to go with the Venlo. "It's a beautiful, sturdy
house," says Pufahl, who doesn't view size to be as important as quality.
"I'm not a grower who's looking to grow a range of 12-13 acres. I'm not
sure at that point if it is as economical as some cheaper alternatives, but for
having a really high-quality operation, it was a really good choice. Glass is
low-maintenance and wonderful to grow in."

 "You can
get our Venlo house sometimes cheaper or sometimes in the same price range as a
corrugated polycarbonate wide-span house. But you get the longevity of
glass," says Vietas. "There's a lot of flexibility in the Venlo,
there's very little maintenance, and for a high-quality house, it's not
inexpensive, but it's on the lower-end pricing of a high-quality house."

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