Local gardener turns green thumb into a thriving business

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This Mud Hub greenhouse has both a plastic cover and a top cover to protect plants from the elements. (Courtesy of Mud Hub Greenhouses)

light pointSpring has arrived and for some people it’s the start of the gardening and growing season.

But New Mexico’s sometimes unforgiving climate can take its toll on the hard work and hopeful efforts of gardeners. Intense sun rays, miserable winds, prolonged heat waves, unfavorable soils, critters, drought and more can put an end to the best gardening efforts here.

Santa Fe gardener Rod Gesten faced all of these challenges as a home gardener many years ago and found a solution. He turned his hobby into a craft by becoming a master gardener and combined his professional skills to start Mud Hub Greenhouses, a business that sells greenhouse kits.

Rod Gesten

Gesten said he designed the prototype in 2014, but only for his personal use. He hadn’t yet decided to start a real business, but saw an opportunity when he started looking for a new career path. He has a background in architecture and construction.

“I just tapped into my passions,” he said. “And gardening was part of that.”

He started his company in 2015 and began perfecting the design through trial and error. He sold his first greenhouse to an owner in 2017 and the business is now New Mexico True certified.

Business has doubled during the pandemic as people focus their attention on new hobbies and projects they can do at home. Additionally, the company has expanded its customer base to include schools. They were also contacted by the state and provided greenhouse kits for correctional facilities.

When Gesten started his business, he said his goal was to help New Mexicoers extend their growing season. He wanted the greenhouses to perform certain key functions. The first was, of course, to provide protection from the elements. Wooden planks form the base and a rounded mesh cover is fixed on top. A plastic cover provides insulation and can be rolled up for better ventilation. There is also an optional shade cover to protect against the strong rays of the sun.

A Mud Hub greenhouse sits on an elevated part in a backyard. (Courtesy of Mud Hub Greenhouses)

Another goal, he said, was to provide ideal growing space, so he included raised beds. This allows gardeners to provide their own balanced soil suitable for their needs. It also eliminates the need to place the greenhouse in an area with desirable soil. They can be placed on concrete, gravel, sand or anywhere else with a flat surface. Raised beds also make gardening physically easier.

“All the bending and reaching efforts limit the time you can spend gardening,” he said. “I wanted to include raised beds to relieve back pain and limit bending and lifting.”

He also wanted to make the structure aesthetically pleasing. Inside, the raised beds had large borders that could be used as benches, allowing people to enjoy their greenhouse gardens.

One of the best things about greenhouses, he said, is that they don’t usually require permits to set up. They are not permanent structures, no foundation placement is required, and there is no digging.

Kits are available in various sizes, including 10 by 12, 12 by 20 and larger 24 by 40 foot models, or greenhouses can be custom ordered. Prices range from around $3,300 to over $10,000 depending on size, features and if they build it or if it is a do-it-yourself purchase.

For more information, visit mudhubgreenhouses.com or call 505-670-6370.

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