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!
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.
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.
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.
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!