Tag: WhiteHouse Farm

2021 Almost over… Thankfully!

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Well I know that it has been a very long time since I have written any updates for the farm. 2021 has not been a good year, as many could testify to, but I have not let it defeat me. Once again we had a busy year for the landscape business, so it took up more time than I planned. This showed in things that I had planned to accomplish on the farm. The colder than normal Spring didn’t allow the hanging baskets and annuals develop as I hoped. Then plants kept arriving, yes I did order these plants, but it was very difficult to keep up with potting them up and keep up with all of the other demands. I finally had to cancel orders because we just couldn’t keep up at that pace.

Then the weeds really started showing up in inside of the coldframe, and I had made a mistake that should have been obvious, but I missed it and paid the price. We had boxes and boxes of trays of plants and under the pressure to get them properly potted I didn’t even think about weed seed in the soils inside the coldframe and just started placing pallet down on the ground. As plants were potted they were staged on pallets to grow out to a plant that could be planted out. Within two to three weeks the weeds started to become an issue and eventually this is the huge mess I had on my hands,

My 2021 Disaster

Many people wouldn’t post this kind of thing on their site or social media, but I like to be real and this happened to me because I didn’t think about what I was doing, Hopefully my mistake will help someone else avoid this king of issue which should not have been and issue at all. This was totally avoidable if I had though about what I was doing, Folks don’t create problems for yourself ! There are enough problems lurking around without creating them yourself.

Reclamation Begins

Fortunately I have family around me that are willing to pitch in and help. My son Derek came down with me and we started the clean up process. We were able to retreive the hoses and tripod sprinklers out of this grassy mess. Then we started removing grass and weeds one section at a time. We were able to clean half of the house in just 3-4 hours. It wasn’t plesant, but we got it done.

The next day I was able to come back down to the farm and get some fabric down on the cleared area. I was quite warm inside of the coldframe during the day and I didn’t want to allow anything to get a new hold and start all over. I called my excavator and ordered 25 tons of rock which he was able to deliver the next day.

I was able to reserve a Dingo and spent all day laying rock on half of the coldframe. I also was able to put down some more rock on the driveway and path that leads to the coldframe. Mud has been an on going issue, so any time I can reinforce paths that keep down the mud issue I definately do it.

This side wasn’t quite as bad as the other side so I decided to go ahead and remove the plants before my son was able to come down again to help clean up this side.

This side only took about an hour and a half to clean up.

This is the coldframe as we left it on December 20, 2021. Derek and I were able to move the remaining pots and supplies, removed the vegetation, and lay fabric on this side ready to lay the stone to complete the job. While Derek was there we also hung three solar fans that I had purchased for the coldframe. I need to purchase another fan and this should make a real difference inside next year.

So now I am waiting on my excavator ro deliver 25 tons of rock to coplete the reclamation job of the coldframe. We should never have another weed problem like this ever. There were points during the year that I was very overwhelmed by what happened in the coldframe, and we had a real issue with wild carrot (Queen Annes Lace) this year. Queens Annes Lace may be beautiful in small patches in a filed, but that isn’t what I had. I had it coming up all around the cabin, in front of the coldframe, and along the backside of the coldframe. It looked awful, and as soon as I removed it, it seemd to come right back. So I don’t want that battle again.

Moving forward I am currently researching a growing system for the coldframe, and right now the AutoPot system looks good to me.

I can configure this system a bit differently as it is shown above. I would have to space the left two pots from the right two pots so that I can grow tomatoes in the coldframe for an extended season, while growing tomatoes in the ground also. If this works as I expect we will add additional systems to grow other vegetables that appreciate warm conditions. I have also been crop planning for 2022.

I sat down with a clod based program I use for landscape designing to layout the farm crop beds. I’ve beed watching Charles Dowding, Neversink Farm, and The Dutch Farmer to get some insight into what others are doing. I have decided to do 30″ wide beds that are 15 feet long which is a combination of what each of these peaople are doing. I should have the best of all worlds. The one thing they all did was no dig method, which I appreciate, and plan to also do in my farming efforts. So this should bring everyone up to date. I appologize for the huge break between posts but I just wasn’t happy with what was happening at the farm, and I just couldn’t write about my failures until now. My mind is in a better place with cold weather giving me a break from landscaping and weeds at the farm. With the coldframe all cleaned up now I feel much better about it also. I pray that Covid, and being sick will become a bad memory in the rear view mirror and 2022 will be evidence of better times. I will be posting regularly as we move into a new year. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Mike and Gina White and family

WhiteHouse Farm

Now We’re Cooking…

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I made a trip to the farm today because our temperatures have taken an upward swing into to 50’s and 60’s outside which means it’s much hotter in the greenhouse. I wasn’t sure how hot…

The top temp is the highest temp during a period of time, and the bottom is the minimum, with the middle being the current temp. So I’m glad I made the trip to water the plants in the greenhouse. I knew it was going to hot in the house, but this was kind of a shock to me. Our high temp today was only 65 F, so I was expecting somewhere in the high 80’s or low 90’s.

Which is what the high temp in the propagation room was. This room is much smaller and the floor is insulated, so I was expecting this room temperature to be higher than the rest of the greenhouse. Instead the room was actually seven degrees cooler than the rest of the greenhouse. As you noticed, I chose the title, “Now We’re Cooking”. That wasn’t because of the temps in the greenhouse.

It’s because the plants in the greenhouse are convinced that it’s Spring even though it’s really late Winter, more specifically February! No reason for plants to be leafing out, except for the higher temps in the house!

So in addition to potting up 160 hanging baskets for Mothers Day, succession Sowing both veg and flowers seeds, potting up all of the plants that came in Fall, and finish building several raised bed for the seed that I will be sowing, and Oh I also have a landscape company that I run. I will be extremely busy for the next four months.

I must confess, even though I have been quite busy I have been envious of those who have been posting in the FaceBook groups that I follow about sowing all of these seeds. Not that I have extra time laying around. I keep reminding myself that it’s too early. Then I tell myself they must be new and they just don’t know what they are doing. Then today, knowing that I was headed to the farm today I took my seed container with me! I filled several partial trays! …. and I sowed Sweet Peas and Snap Dragons! At least I sowed seeds that are close to being on time. I must confess I really really wanted to sow an entire tray of tomatoes and peppers. It is sooo close to being the proper time, but I held out and didn’t sow any tomatoes or peppers today. I can’t promise that I won’t sow them next week!

Winter Fun Update

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Well I was feeling like we were making some real progress on the greenhouse build in preparation for the arrival of the plugs for our hanging baskets this Spring, then suddenly Winter decided to show up with a vengeance. This is obviously our first Winter with the high tunnel so understanding snow loads on a structure that we yet to produce a single plant is extremely important. With this said I have been following weather forecasts and watching the radar to see where the snow and ice was heading. So we have made special runs to the farm specifically to get the snow and ice load off of the top of our high tunnel. The manufacturer has not tested the load capacity so I have no guidance other than common sense. So for the last month very little has been done.

Now what I have been able to do is the necessary things. I laid the foam board in the propagation room. I have temporarily hung the plastic around the propagation room to hold the temperature in the 50’s F. The plan is to hang plywood permanently along the bottom eight feet of the propagation room wall with a clear poly carbonate or acrylic sheet along the top. I had the propane tank filled and the pilot light was lit, so the heating system is ready. I was able to purchase and deliver the wood and tubing for the raised beds so once the weather breaks I can finish both of them. Since the forecast showed the actual temps were going to be in the single digits I was forced to cover the garage door side of the house with film so that I can retain as much heat as possible. The good news it that starting this Sunday the forecast calls for daytime temps in the 40’s and 50’s so hopefully we are done with the Artic cold for the year.

Building Our First Raised Bed

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I started building our first raised bed last week. I mentioned in a previous post that I had purchased a hoop bender back in December, well I have officially put it to use. I had three sections of 1/2″ electrical metal tubing at the farm, so I bent them to get this project started. I have not used a hoop bender in the past so I have no experience here. I feel like I say that about most things involved in this farm. Anyway I have watched a few YouTube videos about using a hoop bender and it didn’t seem to be very difficult. Now I only bent three pieces so far, but there is an important factor to keep in mind as you are bending the tube. As you put an initial bend in the first section of the tubing you slide the tubing to continue this process. If you do not keep the bent section level with with unbent section, as you bend it the hoop will become distorted. That is, it will be semi circle but also warped along the horizontal aspect. What is desired is a semi circle along the vertical plane. So with that all said, bending a hoop isn’t difficult as long as you pay attention to what you are doing and take your time with getting a complete bend along the tool and maintain a straight line with the tube.

So the first raised bed in underway. This bed is six feet wide and about sixty feet long. I understand that the typical raised bed is anywhere from three feet wide to about four feet wide. In my situation I need to maximum my usable space. The amount of people that will be in this bed will be very minimal, more than likely just me. I am very aware of compaction in the bed so a wider bed should not be an issue. As far as the usage of this bed, initially I had thought about using it for potted plant production finishing. After thinking it through with positioning of the bed and the location of the high tunnel, it would probably be better used as a direct sow and transplant bed. So I will need to fill this bed with soil and compost and prepare the bed accordingly. More than likely you will see perennial and annual cut flower plants in this bed along with some gourds, and possibly some herbs.

I have plans to build additional raised beds on the property, this will not be the only one. The use of this bed could very well change as the farm continues to evolve. I would expect that eventually this bed would be exclusively used for presentation crops such as cut flower or possibly seasonal crops like pumpkins and gourds. Something that would look nice as you drive past the farm, presentation is very important. We are down to weeks now and we will be sowing seed, and potting up plants for Spring sales, so completion of this bed is important. In our other business we are preparing annual renewals for landscape services. This work also begins in Late February or early March depending on our weather, so it won’t be long and we will be very busy with landscape jobs and farm production and little time for construction projects.

At Least The Frogs Are Happy

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Well at least we have happy frogs right now. This is the current state of this water line trench. With the constant rain this trench keeps filling up with water. I was hoping that it would drain naturally and then I could back fill the sand and soil. With this new weather pattern we are in we keep getting rain every day or two. Looks like on a dry day I will have to pump it out to be able to fill it in. This is the last section of the trench that needs to be back filled then the water line project is 100% complete! The next project is the greenhouse build which is scheduled for this Saturday. Once the greenhouse structure is built and covered with film we will actually have a functioning farm! This is pretty exciting to get the greenhouse filled with all of our nursery stock, then Mid Winter get seed trays started for Spring sales! There is a lot to get done and the cold weather isn’t too far off now.

June 13th 2020 Farm Activity

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So far June 2020 has been somewhat lacking of activity on the farm. The Landscape business is so busy that there hasn’t been much time to continue developing the farm now that the initial excavation has been done. We have taken the setback measurements from the road, (the surveyor finally got the property staked so we know exactly where the borders are.) and have begun grading out access roads. All of the legal documents are being finalized, and will be signed off soon. We have ordered the cabin, and the Amish are currently building it! We expect delivery the last week of June 2020. Just today (June 13th) I took out the measuring wheel and flagged the road for final grading, and the site for the first two greenhouses. The first greenhouse frame has been ordered and should arrive the middle of July. Once all of the legal docs are signed off we will be getting the water onto the property. There will be tons of activity to report soon.

Oh, very important !! The porta potty has arrived!! for me this is exciting!! nothing worse than being busy on the farm and suddenly have to go!! The closest gas station is about 4-5 miles down the road near the Williamstown exit off of I-75. This will be a lifesaver!! My wife picked it out, it is female approved! It has a sink inside! It’s a very nice porta potty and I’m grateful for it!