I really enjoyed giving a tour of our greenhouses last weekend during Winterfest, so I thought it would be fun to give you all a tour yourselves!
This is our warmest greenhouse, whose main purpose is to produce transplants for the fields come spring. This time of year, we are growing greens. On the right is a heated bench: warm water from our wood pellet boiler is circulated through tubes on top of the bench, creating a warm little greenhouse within a greenhouse. We use this to produce seedlings to fill in gaps in the other houses, along with micro greens. The main body of the greenhouse is kept just above freezing for crops that are pretty hardy, but happier if it doesn’t freeze. From right to left, we then have pea shoots, lettuce for lettuce mix, and chard interplanted with head lettuce. The lettuce mix is growing so slowly this time of year; we last cut those little green lumps a month ago, where the pea shoots and chard just keep coming back.
Greenhouse 2 is a heated greenhouse that we wanted to keep just above freezing, but the heater failed during the cold snap we had around the holidays (never, never, never again will we buy a used greenhouse heater). All the lettuce and chard in there died, though you can see some arugula to the left that made it. You can just barely see the tiny seedlings of arugula, kale, radish, cress, and bok choy that we seeded in there after that; these things can grow relatively fast once they get going, so we hope they will make it before we have to plant tomatoes!
What a difference a little bit of heat makes! This greenhouse has all same stuff that died in Greenhouse 2, but it made it through the cold snap! This is where all of the arugula, head lettuce, lettuce mix, and bok choy is currently coming from. Wait a minute, why is there a Greenhouse 1, 2, and 4, but no 3? We are actually planning to build a fourth greenhouse, but it’s going right next to Greenhouses 1 and 2, so the greenhouses are going to be named by location, rather than the order built.
In the unheated greenhouses (also known as hoophouses), the name of the game is to grow stuff in the fall and then kind of store it for harvest in the deepest part of winter. This was the earliest planting of spinach; it’s been all picked out, but is almost ready for us to come around for another round.
This house has baby kale in the 2 beds on the left, and miner’s lettuce in the righthand bed. All of these hoophouses have row covers that we take off during the day to increase air circulation and light penetration, and then put back over at night to trap as much heat as possible.
There’s some arugula and salad mix in here that really wasn’t happy with the cold weather. It may perk up and start growing again. On the left is tiny arugula that was seeded in December after we pulled out some radishes.
We usually plant a later house to spinach around the middle of October that would start coming into production about now. This year we had poor germination and had to re-seed a couple of weeks later. A week difference in the fall makes a big difference for the winter harvest window! These plants are looking nice and healthy, though, and we should start picking in a few weeks.
This hoophouse has wheels so we can move it from spot to spot! This spinach was started in the middle of September while the house was growing tomatoes in the next spot over. This spinach is the most recently cut. We’ll go back to Hoophouse 1, and by the time we’re done with that, this spinach should be ready.