This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol1", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
This is one of the greatest expenses to the commercial grower with extensive ranges of glass, and prices of coal and coke have increased enormously during the past twenty years, while the price of produce has fallen just as much; and labour has also increased. The two principal fuels used are coke and anthracite coal - some growers preferring one, some another. The prices vary according to circumstances, depending upon proximity or the reverse to supplies, freight charges, carriage, etc. The average price for coal and coke may be given as 20s. per ton, and a house of 9000 ft. capacity, as mentioned above, will require from 1/4 to 1/2 ton per week if kept cool, or about 1 ton if treated as a stove. In the near future, perhaps, when science will have shown us how to make petroleum into a solid commercial article for heating purposes, there may be good times yet in store for the grower under glass. In the meantime he must pay the price asked for coal and coke, and see that he engages intelligent stokers to attend to his fires. A good stoker at 30.9. per week is better than two bad stokers at 20s. each per week. [j. w.]