Category Archives: Greenhouse, high tunnel, hoop house
Just came in for a drink and found #12 hatching so I grabbed the camera. The video is uploading. So far the tally is two dead and 12 live. One of the 12 has a bum leg. He was in a tiny egg and is now having a hard time getting one leg under him. I’m not taking any extra measures. He’ll either get up and survive, or he won’t. I won’t let him suffer. Another of the 12, the one you’ll be able to see hatching, is herniated. I’m not sure what will happen with him. He wasn’t due to hatch until tomorrow. Another day would have been better for him. We’ll see what happens. When you watch the video later watch for the “string” connecting the poult to the egg. The second dead poult hatched in the barn and was severely herniated.
I’m spreading mulch on the garden, planting a few more seedlings, and selling seedlings today. It has been sunny but the clouds are starting to move in now. As long as the breeze keeps blowing to keep the black flies away I don’t mind the clouds. I’m getting a little burned and could use a break from the sun. Some days being a blue eyed blond European girl is inconvenient.
Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the weekend to plant gardens in this area. It’s early this year. When I get back from turkey hunting Friday (target practiced last night, I think I can do this in one shot and be home by mid morning) I’ll be ready to open the seedling house for weekend sales. By the end of the weekend half the plants should be sold with the other half the following weekend. I’ll move the plants I’m keeping out of there today and tomorrow so that they aren’t accidentally sold and to make more room. Customers can’t possibly walk through there the way it is now. I can barely walk through there.
Today hasn’t been what I was expecting. It’s 2:50 pm now and just now seriously threatening to rain. The wind has picked up and the sky darkened several times today but no rain. The thunder was enough to get the dogs up off the floor to pace and whine this time. We need more rain.
I pulled more greens and planted eight more tomatoes in the greenhouse. All of the work I planned in there for the day is done. The seedling house has been tended to. I shuffled small, medium and large tomato plants around. The SNAP! count is now one chipmunk, four mice and a weird looking mole. It has eyes. One of the mice was brown with black and white. It had a white blaze down the center of its face. It looked like it oculd have been someone’s pet. I haven’t had any damage since catching the stubby tailed mouse but I’m not taking chances. There’s still $1800 worth of plants in there not counting what I’ll plant here.
One of the turkey hens is going broody. I need to take eggs from that nest to give to two more ducks. Before she starts to brood I’ll try moving her to a separate pen where the other turkeys can’t add eggs to her nest. I’ve never done this with turkeys so I’m not sure what to expect.
I took pics this morning! I’ll put them up in a while.
The tomato plants are doing well. They’ve been planted in IRT. I burn holes with a small propane torch. Burning vs cutting means no flaps to cover seedlings or interfere with watering. This photo was taken before the tomatoes were planted. To make room for them most of the beet greens were cut, bagged and taken to the local store for sale. I left a patch of them at the far end so that we continue to have fresh greens until the crop outdoor is ready to cut. It will be a while since it was planted just this week. The lettuces, boc choi, and onions have to be moved back to make room for another strip of IRT for another row of tomatoes. I hate to lose the greens so we’ve been eating salads like crazy. I’ll probably mix up a few pounds of salad, bag it and take it to the store. I’ll take a new pic today.
I should. I should write something. How many times can I say “transplanting seedlings to six packs,” or any of the other things I do repeatedly.
The new gh is going up. I hope to transplant into it next weekend.
Something, either chipmunk or mouse, has been digging up seeds in six packs in the seedling house and eating them. It leaves the shell behind. I set three traps yesterday and caught a chipmunk quickly and a mouse over night.
This week I need to:
- climb the bleeping ladder and hang the strings in the greenhouse. I’ve procrastinated on this one.
- move the mini hoop to the seedling house so I can move some cold crops out and make room for the warm stuff
- figure out how to candle turkey eggs
- transplant seedlings into six packs
- make signs for the seedling house – explain each variety so that maybe I don’t have to repeat myself 100 times when customers come to buy seedlings
- moan about missing the laptop. Acer needs two freaking weeks to get it back to me after it’s shipped tomorrow. Toshiba had T’s back to her five days after shipping and that included a weekend. Two weeks. Ridiculous. I’m very pleased with the laptop but no more Acer for me. Customer service sucks and the turn around time is unacceptable.
- A1C tomorrow. :( Praying it’s below 6.5
- use the tilther to add compost to the garden
- cut trees at the pond, prune an apple tree I’m leaving there
- scarecrow of sorts to the peas and spinach plot
- weed the gh
- turn the compost pile
- move the Earth Machine and use it to finish some compost
- build one or two new piles using OPL. OPL=other people’s leaves
- roll out IRT to start warming soil for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant outside
This week I’m planting:
- more beet greens
- PTWG turnip
- 10,000 carrots
- tomatillos (in the gh), replacing cold killed tomatoes in the gh
- seed pickling cucs
- replace squash seeds the chipmunk and/or mouse ate
- pot up comfrey and chives
We have volleyball tonight. If our teams lose we’re out.(We’re out) It’s fun again and I wouldn’t mind playing next week but we’re playing a very good team. Going out with the girls once a week is nice but I really do need to settle in and not quit working by 4:30 in the afternoon so that I can goof off this time of year.
ohhhhhhh I know what else I want to do this week. Jan has ducklings. All six of the eggs under the chicken hatched yesterday. I want to ooh and ahh and get my duckie fix. And speaking of ducklings, I need to boot ducks off their nests for a minute to be sure they aren’t setting on duck eggs.
Back to work. I’ve done chores but haven’t fed the trout. I’ll take the camera with me while I work today.
I’ve kept the ducks locked in the barn since Sunday night. I feel badly about this but I’d feel worse if they were dining on newly planted seeds in the garden. My project this afternoon is to pound the stakes for fencing, put up the fence, catch one duck at a time, clip its wings and put it out in the newly fenced pasture. I will get the stakes in and the fence up and it will probably end there. Catching ducks in that barn is a job for two people. Some of the runners might be able to go out but certainly not the mallards and mallard crosses.
I mentioned mailing soap to a customer and got snagged into making soap for someone else. I’ll make it this morning. At one time I loved it, now it’s just another thing to do. But heck, for $200, I can spend a couple of hours making soap.
Basil needs to be moved to six packs. I’ve been brushing my hand over the seedlings as they sit in the kitchen waiting to go out. They smell wonderful.
Not a recipe. This is where I have my first sips of coffee in the morning. I no longer dare put off checking the greenhouse. I’m out of bed and in the seedling house around 5 am these days. I take my cup of coffee with me. The heater is turned back to 1 or sometimes off depending on how warm it is outside. This morning I looked over the plants carefully. The peppers’ cotyledons are a bit yellow and it’s too early in their lives for that. I’ll let them dry out from yesterday’s watering while the seaweed tea brews. They need a good cup of tea. The cauliflower survivors (in case I didn’t already tell you, I forgot to turn the heat on one night) are bouncing back. Cauliflower is the wimpiest cold weather crop I grow. The next batch of Pac Choi, which I’ll sell most of in the gh, filled its tray over night. Gonzales and Ruby Red Perfection cabbage look fantastic.
Rockweed actually. We picked up around 500 pounds of rockweed for the garden. Steve tossed some into the chicken pen. They weren’t sure what to think for a while but were pecking away later. I’ll start a batch of weed tea tomorrow. That will be used to water the seedlings and the plants in the ground in the four season greenhouse. Seaweed is full of the micronutrients typical 10-10-10 petrochemical fertilizers lack. These are micronutrients our bodies as well as plants and other animals need to function well.
Rockweed is an excellent weed suppressant. It would take a lot of seaweed to suppress an acre’s worth of weeds but I’ll take all the help I can get. It’s also a good mulch. It breaks down slowly and releases nutrients into the soil. Some of the weed will go into a compost pile I need to rebuild after the rain stop later in the week.
This is the first of several loads we’ll bring home. Each time we need to be in the area we’ll fill the back of the truck.
This is what happens when you forget to take the poly off a conduit hoop house before a heavy snow storm.
I hope to tackle this over the weekend. Every time I see it I want to kick myself.
Steve’s dad gave this heater to me. It runs like a top. When I’m making Christmas wreaths in November and December it keeps coffee warm and takes the chill out of the greenhouse. It runs on propane. Just outside the plastic, a little to the left, is a large propane tank.
The fan is there to blow on the plants. They need to build cell strength to build stem strength before they go out into the wind.
At 4:20 am Steve got up for the day and sent T and two of her sleepover friends to bed. I remember when T used to grumble about how stupid it was when her sister stayed up all night and how she wasn’t going to do stupid stuff like that.
Patience is not planting the garden when friends and family are putting out even their warm weather crops in April. I REALLY want to start putting everything in the ground. My step-mother called yesterday to say she thought she’d have to come get plants because she planted her garden last week and things are “already dying.” I’m amazed they lived as long as they did. I’m looking at phosphorous deficient tomato seedlings in the four season greenhouse where it’s much warmer at all times. They’re deficient because they’re a little colder than they’d like to be. They’ll be fine.
Jan and I are experimenting. She took home broccoli seedlings and planted them yesterday. I’m planting some today and putting them under row cover. We have nothing to lose since there are 750 seedlings waiting to replace these if they don’t survive. Six weeks of frost danger and torrential spring rains nag in the back of my mind. I’m 99.99% sure it’s too early here but what if I miss that .01% opportunity for a very early start on hundreds of cabbage and broccoli? The difference is big enough for an extra harvest.
Amity came to visit yesterday. She took an awesome photo of lettuce in the greenhouse. She offered to help weed the greenhouse and I will of course, take her up on that. The weeds are starting to get bigger than the lettuce and beet green seedlings. It’s great timing. I’m still working with seedlings while the weeds get bigger. Amity’s a farm girl who grew up working in the greenhouse. She can get her gh fix and I’ll send her back with seedlings for her garden. Amity – I’m here all day today and tomorrow. If I don’t see you here first I’ll be calling you later this morning.
The impossible To Do list this week: all regular chores and
- seed cucumbers, more tomatoes
- work with decayed bark in gh
- clean seedling house
- clean propane heater in seedling house
- order propane?
- seedlings to the seedling house, getting second leaves
- fill six packs
- order more six packs?
- start potting up seedlings – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage are starting to get true leaves (time consuming)
- get greenhouse license ap in mail
- buyer club info out
- compost shrimp
- clean barn and hen house (it won’t get done this week) unless miracles happen
- clean up yard as the snow melts
- plant leeks in gh
- pull grass roots
- cut spinach, kale, tatsoi if there’s any left
- thin PGWT turnip and seeded lettuces in gh
- USDA – do I have to test water going into prep shed
- two restaurants
This felt like so much more last night.
I have a late volleyball game tonight. It probably won’t start until 8 pm. =( I knew when I started playing that once I got busy I wouldn’t want to go anymore. I’m going. It’s a lot of fun.
The prize at the end of the week is lunch out with friends M and T. I already can’t wait.
Steve didn’t get to spend a day on his brother’s boat this year because of his job. He did drive down on Friday to get shrimp from J. When he got back in the truck he called. “I have 400 pounds of shrimp.”
I replied, “Do NOT bring home 400 pounds of shrimp.”
He made stops along the way home and was down to 170 pounds when he got here. I should have been more specific, as in don’t bring home more than 50 pounds. We made a mental list of friends we’d give shrimp to. My bil came Friday night to pick some up. While I worked Saturday morning Steve ran around the neighborhood delivering shrimp. “You know how you hate it when people drop in and you’re not ready for people yet? Well everyone else looks just like you on Saturday mornings.”
I don’t know if I should say that’s good to know or I’m sorry for them too! I really do hate it when people drop in and I’m still in jammie pants or sweats and shirt, hair’s a mess and I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. Steve caught three ladies in their bathrobes. After one child took the shrimp in her mom came to the door to say she was so excited she’d hug him if she were dressed better. She has the coolest, funky jammies. He thrust bags of shrimp through doors to unsuspecting people with great glee. Only one person knew ahead of time. How unfair is that! =) Steve didn’t look any better than anyone else though. He had on his favorite shirt he’s not supposed to wear out of the house (it’s so disgusting I wouldn’t even compost it), sweats and probably tall rubber boots. Life gets underway early out here. Steve’s pager starts buzzing anytime after 2:30 am. I’m an early riser but that doesn’t mean I want someone shoving shrimp at me before I’m dressed! He was amused. I’m just glad it wasn’t me this time. We have 19 quarts of shrimp in the freezer. There are five packages of just meat. The rest is beheaded and ready to be dropped in boiling water for shrimp cocktail.
And with that, I’m back to work.
Steve and I went to visit Kristin and my parents, to Lowe’s to price out the new greenhouse and out to supper today. On the way to Bangor I gave in and agreed to buy a tractor. He’s wanted one for a long time. “WHY do we NEED a tractor?”
Steve said, “It’s a man thing.”
I wasn’t anymore convinced then than I have been for the last three or four years that he’s been campaigning for a tractor. Then he started listing all of the things we can do and in the end I agreed it’s a good idea. Yarding logs (firewood) and other non-farming projects are a lot easier with a tractor than an ATV. Some things I’m considering (expansions) are possible only if I have access to a tractor when I need it. Right now I’m at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. It’s usually ok but ok won’t be good enough for what I might do.
We priced parts for the next greenhouse. I’ll write about that separately another time. And we priced out the siding for the barn. If we order it from a small business in the Amish community (in Smyrna) we’ll pay almost half the price Lowe’s charges per foot, they’ll cut it to our specific lengths and we’ll support a small business.
I’ve mentioned being nervous about this year. I feel much better about it thanks to so much help from Steve. The only thing I can’t control now is the weather.
The ugly plant stand. It’s stained beyond being cleaned and it has a lot of useless space for my needs. But, it’s a lot better than keeping the seedlings on the diningroom table where they stretch to the window. It’s serving a purpose – it’s keeping the greenhouse heat off. I don’t plan to turn on the heat now until at least Tuesday if I can avoid it.
Left over from yesterday’s list:
- just before dark, move new hens to hen house and close them in for a few days so they stop going back to the seedling house.
We’ll do that Friday night. They can be closed in during the 3-5 days of rain. I hate to make them stay in when it’s not raining.
- get wheelbarrow out of ice?
Steve got it out last night. He tells me it now needs big washers and some silicone. He wrestled it out apparently and the plastic around the screws broke. He’ll pick the washers up today. I have silicone. I don’t like this wheelbarrow but I can’t justify sending it to the landfill or giving it to someone else. It’s 8 cu ft and has four wheels rather than three. It’s easy to use thanks to that extra front wheel. But, it’s plastic. It outgasses when it’s warm and sunny. You can smell it when you walk by. I won’t have another. I hope between now and when I need another I can find something that isn’t metal or plastic.
- start the last of the seeds for this week
I’ll do that today. It’s a cold, damp day good for working inside. There’s little to do outside other than the last 300-350 lettuce transplants to go into the greenhouse. I don’t think I’ll start transplants next year. It’s time consuming. I’ll have to come back to read this next year because in February and March I’m going to think it sounds like a great idea.
Green King broccoli seedlings in the front, Gonzales cabbage seedlings in the back. There are approximately 650 broccoli and Gonzales cabbage seedlings in each 10 x 20 tray, one tray each. Gonzales is new to me. It’s a replacement for my favorite small cabbage, a Monsanto product. I asked my parents for help when it’s time to put these into six packs. There will be thousands of seedlings ready at the same time.
Some of the artichokes need to be moved to another 10 x 20 tray. They’re taller than the other seedlings so they’re too close or would already touch the light. I’ll move them today. They’re in the top right corner of the pic. There are 34 now.
Later this morning – seeds, banana bread, roast a Bourbon Red turkey and move a tray of leeks to the gh to see how they do with the cold. I think they’ll be fine.
Ruby Red Perfectin cabbage, the next batch of Joi Choi (bok choi), Glacier tomatoes (early, 2″, do well in cool temps).
Wind damaged the greenhouse today. When I opened the door the wind caught it, flung it back against the end wall and snapped the top of the frame off. It hung by the polly and whipped back and forth in the wind. The poly is stretched and torn. I thought I had it firmly in hand. <sigh> I spent 2 1/2 hours making repairs and installing braces on the door. I’m not quite done. The door is patched together. The wind was too strong to finish the work.
I transplanted pac choi and red kale, watered, turned the compost pile, dug up grass roots, cut a grocery bag full of last fall’s spinach and tidied up. I’d had more than enough of the wind and problems it caused me, and came in. Most of the house plants needed to be repotted. It was a good afternoon project. When I turned the compost pile I found mold. Rather than disturb it more I covered it quickly. I’ll go back with a bucket that closes tightly and move the mold out of the greenhouse. Of course, that’s not going to remove all the mold spores. They’ll persist. It’s important now to keep the moisture under control and air circulating well. The compost isn’t quite finished. It’s taking up space and needs to be moved out to the bin outside the greenhouse door.
Maine Nature News is up. It’s the most unusual edition I’ve published yet. There’s only one report, mine, and a photo from a reader. I took the opportunity for a slow edition to ramble about the deer and the state.
Earthworms are as important to me as compost. They work hard for me. I took these pictures in the greenhouse yesterday. The worms are active in there but outside they’re under 18-20″ of snow. We won’t see those worms for about a month.
The tunnels worms make are helpful. They provide aeration for the soil and let water deeper into the soil so that it’s closer to roots. As long as the soil isn’t compacted the tunnels drain quickly. You probably won’t find many worms in compacted soil anyway. Worms carry organic matter into the holes with them as they go back down. This improves soil texture and drainage and makes nutrients more readily available.
Petroleum fertilizers and pesticides can damage the earthworm population. Adding organic matter to the soil will help counteract the problems.
The small piles of dirt at the top of soil, sometimes hiding a worm hole, are worm castings. In other words, worm poop. It’s an excellent amendment. You won’t find many worms in dead dirt. They need to eat. If you bring a handful of worms to a patch of soil they’ll stay if there’s something to eat. If there isn’t anything there for them they’ll move on. Worms eat by ingesting soil and organic matter.
Before the small compost pile in the greenhouse froze I added all the earthworms I took into the greenhouse to the pile. When it was 20* in the greenhouse in the morning the center and bottom of the pile were warm. The worms were active. As the pile heats up the worms move away from it. As it cools, and if it’s cold in the gh, they return to the pile. They were a big help to the small pile that wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did in decomposition without them.
I’m getting emails asking if I’m ok after yesterday’s bear episode. Yes, I’m fine. You might want to re-read what the bear said to me. =)
Today’s plan: start chard and sage seeds indoors. Transfer lettuce, tatsoi, endive, arugula, kale and pac choi to the greenhouse and get them planted. Spread compost over 25′ of beet seeds that are stuggling. The soil dries out to quickly so the seeds aren’t germinating well. Compost will help. I don’t think I’ll get it all done today. Write up a couple of entries on the greenhouse. Repot some house plants.
I dread going out. It was 41* a little after 5 am when I checked. At 8 am it was 34*. The temp is ok. The wind bothers me though. I don’t like wind. It’s unsettling. It will be very loud in the greenhouse today. The birds will go out to get a drink but will otherwise stay inside for the day.
Shopping list: 200 4″ pots. I’m out of yogurt cups already. I need to pot up tomatoes and eggplant soon.
It’s snowing again today. According to the weather forecast it’s going to clear up and be sunny by the end of the day. The sky will be clear overnight and we’ll have a little sun in the morning before it clouds up again. Some things seem to never change.
I’ve completely lost patience with the provider. It’s been nearly two weeks now since we had a reliable signal. Fix it dammit. Ironically, they can’t get the signal here but they managed to land a bill for service in my inbox. It’s one of the first things that downloaded when I dialed in two days ago. It’s not really a bill though. According to the email it’s a “statement.” That means they’ve already charged my credit card. I’ve had comments sitting in the outbox several times but they wouldn’t send because I wasn’t on dial up and…all together now…didn’t have a signal.
Early Girl tomatoes. These are going out to the greenhouse in April.
Going some where. Hopefully a hoop house but we still have 2′ of snow on the field. I’ll spread these out soon, they’re too crowded.
Nadia eggplant. I’m trying these for the first time on the advice of a friend and fellow greenhouse grower. One day without light was too much so now they’re very leggy. =( Such is life.
It’s not above 0* but the wind is blowing and we have the cloudy sunny cloudy sky. It kind of maybe possibly feels like spring might come some day. Not Thursday as scheduled, but some day. Personally, I think we’re at the beginning of the next 10,000 ice age. Global warming? Ha. Remember the 70′s? We were all gonna freeze to death back then. OK, end of sarcasm.
I’m going out to plant peas today. I’ll take pictures and I’ll explain why this is significant. WARNING: Bring your sense of humor to the next blog entry.
I’ve been in the writing mood lately but none of what I’ve had to say is farm related. I’m going to use my other blog for stuff like that. I’ll be writing about excessively thrilling things like why I have the reverse raccoon thing happening to my face, ice fishing, how to avoid being politically correct and why I’m barking like a dog. Before I start that I have to spend an hour or so being a domestic
goddess captive and clean the house.
Farm work today:
- drag the seed bench over the snow bank, across the driveway and to the back porch. Scrub the disgusting thing before bringing it into the house and placing it on the nice new diningroom floor.
- transplant seedlings into six packs or something.
- write out the buying club information and email it to a new organizer.
- plant peas – it’s that time of year in this zone (humor, remember your sense of humor!)
- look at flower pics and starting seriously thinking about replacing the perennial gardens I let go because of (cancelled) construction, or were destroyed by workmen before I saw what they were doing.
- re-cover the tunnels in the gh. Going to be very cold again tonight.