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Almost time for hanging baskets

Blueberry Hill Farm Greenhouses near Forest City started filling the baskets with dirt and planting them this week.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — The sun was shining, but the day started out in the single digits at Blueberry Hill Farm Greenhouses near Forest City on Monday. Outside, the snow is piled almost as high as the greenhouses, but inside it is about 70 degrees, and it is time for hanging baskets.

"It does take a while. People think they come, and it's instant beauty, but we've been growing the stuff since right after Christmas. Since the beginning of January, we started planting cuttings for the hanging baskets," said John Mustica, co-owner of Blueberry Hill Farm Greenhouses.

Now it is time to fill the baskets with dirt and plant them. The process started just this past weekend, and already about 500 baskets are lined up in one of the several greenhouses at Blueberry Hill. After decades of doing it by hand and then years of borrowing a machine from a friend, Mustica finally invested in a machine that fills and packs the dirt for his farm.

"It makes our job a lot easier. We can get hanging baskets out and planted a lot faster than by hand. We did them by hand for years. This here just ramped up production tremendously for us."

Mustica plans to do about 10,000 hanging baskets this year, the most ever.

"Since the pandemic, it's like everybody got back into gardening. It's amazing how many people started gardening that never gardened before," he explained.

And after selling out of his mums before his busy season even really got started last fall, Mustica is ready to sell all 10,000 hanging baskets.

"In the spring, it's just something beautiful. After all this snow and these long winters we have here in northeast Pennsylvania, it's just a beautiful thing to see a flower. Everyone's sick of it. Spring fever."

Blueberry Hill Farm Greenhouses officially opens for the season a few weeks before Easter.