Friday, May 15, 2009

Working in the Greenhouse: An Ideal Environment

The greenhouse is an enclosed workspace with various rooms, or chambers. As someone who is ever-seeking to get outside no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I view the greenhouse as an ideal cubicle environment. In my practical experience being stuck in a cubicle where I really once was, the environmental conditions are usually quite poor. I always recall trying to escape my cube by watching the glass mirror-ball up above on the ceiling (there was no window, of course) which really only gave me views of people walking to and from the bathroom nearby. Some characteristics I recall include stagnant air carrying various odors of people, food, and other unknowns; loud voices carrying on personal or professional conversation distracting from your work focus; trash; ergonomic challenges; electronics both functioning and broken equally as often; etc... In the greenhouse, these undesirable characteristics are little to none and you are surrounded by a grand array of greenery for ambience.

The greenhouse is primed to offer the optimal conditions to plants. This is also a haven for people and perhaps pests find their way in (see aphids having a late Cinco de Mayo fiesta atop the foliage of this chile plant). I cannot complain about being stuck indoors when working in a greenhouse. Sometimes it even beats outdoors on days that are windy, too cold, rainy. It gives a refuge on those less ideal days where the work that serves the farm may still continue.

This greenhouse update includes very mature eggplants. I am only guessing these could be on their way out to the field soon after the chiles are all in the ground. The current state of the eggplant causes a watering challenge. The plants have an umbrella of foliage that blocks overhead sprinkles and requires some brushing aside of leaves and up close attention to be sure they get their daily water ration.

As I work in my cubicle, surrounded in plants, I learn. This season amongst the laundry list of lessons I take home from this job, I really focused on soil nutrition in the greenhouse. Lee is blessed with incredible soil to work with as Wayne is a master compost-maker. Some situations require the sterile soil mixes you see bagged up for greenhouse work, other times using something with a little more life inside it is the better choice. Things to think about are what sort of pot or flat you are using, what sort of seeds, how long they will stay in one pot, whether they will get additional fertilizing or be potted up. I have seen various greenhouses at work this spring, including my own mini-operation at home, and I feel enriched in my own abilities by my experience working along with the decisions I have seen Lee make in her role as a greenhouse manager.

Finally, a report of my "office" tasks in the greenhouse. I seeded an entire new round of basil yesterday to compensate for plants that went outdoors a litte too soon this season. They did not frost to death, but many of them are looking less that ideal. My second assignment was amaranth. Many kinds will be grown this year and not just for ornamental foliage, but edible foliage and edible seeds/grains. I am sure this is a topic to be touched on further in the future. Amaranth is for the patient and focused seeder. Seeds are tiny and I anticipate will become a common weed around the farm after growing this quantity of pants. They must drop millions of small grains if allowed to go to seed in the field.

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