Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Greenhouse Management

Another set of brassicas (cabbages, cauliflowers, broccolis) is packed up and ready to head out to the field today. There is some celery and celeriac that is ready to go in the ground too.

This is good timing as things need to be moved about in the greenhouse. As dictated by the waxing moon phase that favors seeding above ground annuals and flowers at this very time, Lee and I worked to put a few more seeds in the soil yesterday including cabbages for sauerkraut (large varieties), colorful cauliflowers (graffiti/purple and cheddar/orange), and some savoy cabbages, more celery, etc...

Here is a look at the brussels sprouts we seeded one week ago, emerging at a sporadic rate, Lee and I spent some time fussing over their conditions. As the season warms, some of the micro-climates within the greenhouse are less suitable (too hot) for seeds and seedlings that require lower temperatures to germinate like a lot of these items we are seeding for the fall harvest time. By moving out the seedlings that are ready for the field, we create more room for other flats of seeds that would prefer the cooler locations within the greenhouse. So we spent a little time finding the ideal homes for all of these little guys....

An overview of flats full of seeds demonstrates some of what we are fussing with here. Keeping track of the soil and air temperatures is constant work and shifts all day long depending on the outdoor conditions. A while back, Lee installed some cardboard above this area to filer the intense light a little bit. When we were working with chiles and tomatoes, the intense heat and light was a bit more favorable. As we work with less heat-loving seeds amidst the early summer time heat, the challenges have shifted to keeping the temperatures from rising too high.

In the cooler, outer room (where the seedlings harden off and live out their final days prior to transporting to the field) it is also getting quite warm. Yesterday, we spent some time putting extra shade over the roof of the greenhouse in order to filter the sun a bit as the temperatures remain high this week. Everything this season in the greenhouse is still a bit experimental since it is a brand new structure.

Hopefully the TLC we invested yesterday will pay off with high rates of germination. It is frustrating to spend so much time working with tiny seeds and to come back and see failed results, but it always happens one way or another. Seeding is such a balance of conditions, healthy soil, balanced water, perfect light and temperature, it is really a full time position to watch over all of this stuff.

In closing, I got another nice shot of celery and celeriac seedlings. The brilliant midday sunlight enhanced the vibrant green of these guys and inspired the photographer in me yet again. They are headed for the field next and hopefully to our tables by Thanksgiving to Christmas time.

Today is a great day to come out in the afternoon and try to catch us putting these little transplants into the ground. If you are stopping in to pick up your CSA share today, think about bringing a hat and setting aside 10-20 minutes to go and check out what is happening out in the farm fields. It is quite a treat to get to see all the steps behind your food production. Make the most of it!

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