Learning Everything the Hard Way

By March 30, 2017farm journal

Week 13

2017

Greenhouse Management

Running things manually in the greenhouse has been working out so far, but is severely limiting our ability to go places. Our system currently requires us to be around to open up covers and turn off heaters in the morning, turn on fans when the temperatures start to rise, roll up the side vent or turn on the wet-wall, monitor the water level for the wet-wall, and monitor the plants periodically throughout the day and rotate them though the water as needed. Then we turn the cooling systems off and start closing things up as the sun goes behind the trees in the afternoon, and finally close up the covers, turn on heaters, and set mousetraps each evening at sundown.

This is all fine except that the way we turn each of these things on and off requires dragging extension cords around and trying to dangle them across things so they can reach all the plugs they need to without leaving a connection somewhere it will get sprayed by the dripping wet-wall.

And until today, we had only one hose running to the greenhouse and garden which meant turning valves on and off and disconnecting hoses and sprayers anytime you wanted to water anything. This afternoon we were joined by my incredibly knowledgeable and patient dad who helped us cut, mend, and rearrange hoses so that we can have water in all the places just by switching valves on and off! It’s amazing!!!

So far many of the plants are getting to look really nice, so it has all seemed unquestionably worth it. AND THEN … within this week we’ve started encountering problems left and right. We found sun-scorching on several trays of brassicas (though new leaves appear to be doing better now that they’ve been moved to a shadier location.) Then there’s the mysterious problem with the tomatillos (the leaves are getting bumpy, blistery spots and the plants are dying.) My frantic obsessive research is leading me to the hypothesis that the damage is caused by thrips? But they’re SO small I’m having a very difficult time confirming this idea. A strange grey-ish mold is appearing on the eggplants. Aphids have appeared on the eggplants and several of the brassicas.

UPDATE: My dad brought us a magnifying glass, which allowed me to (I think) confirm the presence of thrips, which we have attempted to treat with a Neem spray. I also discovered that everywhere I witnessed mold on the eggplants, I also saw aphids. A little googling led me to believe we were getting ‘sooty mold’ which grows on the sweet excrement the aphids leave behind. So we are trying ladybugs to control the aphid population and hopefully also curb the mold.

High Fives for High Tunnels!

Our high tunnel is ordered and on it’s way! It’s scheduled to be delivered Monday!

Meanwhile the only bed we have ready to plant is still Shady Acres. We got radishes and carrots seeded, and kale, lettuce, arugula, and collard greens planted out this week.

Thank goddess we have Callan to call on. She’s going to come over this week and help me prep beds so we can prove that two hot ladies with shovels and broadforks can do the job in less time and money than one rented tractor!

Water Falling from the Sky

We recorded our first rain on the weather station this week—0.18 inches over two days.

Thankfully not enough to turn “Shady Acres” into “Swampy Acres,” but if we don’t install gutters on the loaf I expect that will happen soon.

How much would can a wood-chipper chip

Kemper rented a wood-chipper to chew up lots of branches we’ve had lounging about and get them composting. He cut and sawed and dragged and pulverized Russian Olives and Siberian Elms from all corners of the property along with lots of pieces of the dearly departed Juniper we removed last year. Now we have a glorious pile of wood chips to compost with.