February has descended on the farm for the year of 2012 and I thought I would take a break from the winter farm chores to share some of the activities that embroil us this time of year, and more specifically, one in particular. Up to this point in the new year, much of my time has been spent planning and plotting out next season’s plantings and activity. It is a gruelingly laborious task, but without it, spring will attack the most optimistic plans and crush them like a steamroller. Actually, that may be a bit harsh, but nonetheless, without planning, any given year will at best be a chaotic run through a maze of madness. But I digress.
There are many other tasks to be performed as well, for the farm is of course “Nev-R-Dun”. For this current year, activities such as deer fence repair, leaf removal, barn repair, etc., have been temporarily put aside for a greater cause. And what is this greater cause? A greenhouse. I shall explain…
Over the years, I have made many attempts at starting plants in mid-February for the following season: in a greenhouse heated by propane (Tremendous waste of money, and do not believe anyone who says otherwise!), under artificial lights in my basement, as well as using heat directed to small areas of the larger greenhouses. It is this last attempt that has led to what will follow.
The main issue to be faced is that I do not have a heating source for all the space in either of the greenhouses. Since I have made the absolutely final decision not to use any form of fossil fuel heat, an efficient alternative heat source has not been found. The heat sources are relegated to space heaters. Inside a 48’x21’ greenhouse, space heaters have little effect. Throughout the years, I have partitioned off sections of a greenhouse in order to heat “sections” rather than the entire structure.
Then, this year, Kirk made the suggestion for us to build a smaller greenhouse, specifically for starting plants, where heating will be much less of an issue. And so, on Saturday, January 28, Kirk and I set about to build this new structure…
First, spare lumber was gathered for the structure. Both Kirk and I are relentless collectors of spare lumber, so between the two of us, we had all that would be required for the structure, which ultimately was not a large amount.
Next, Kirk graded the area for the greenhouse.
Then the baseboards were attached…
Then the conduit hoops were installed…
Then the end walls were constructed and the door and louvre installed.
With some strong wind all day on Saturday, we decided to wait until Sunday to put up the plastic. Sunday was supposed to be much more calm, which, of course, it was not. Nonetheless, with plastic blowing in every direction, we were able to cover the end walls in plastic. But with strong wind gusting throughout Sunday as well, we decided to delay an attempt at covering the hoops with plastic until later in the week.
With a lesser breeze on Tuesday, we were able to cover the hoops relatively easy.
And on Wednesday, a beautifully calm and sunny day, we finished the main structure. Of course, it is not quite complete, for the grow racks need to be assembled along with other incidentals, which will keep us busy for a bit longer. As for heating in the structure, we have two weeks to experiment with that before the first seedlings will be started.
So this is an example of some of the winter fun we get to experience. Fun? That depends on your perspective. Without having accumulated the wealth to vacation in Mexico sipping margaritas until March, I guess it will have to do.