We Have a New Greenhouse!
If you are one of our neighbors that drives by the farm a lot, you may have noticed a new addition to our lineup of buildings along the side of Route 69. We have a new greenhouse! We started working on it last fall, and it's gone up in stages over the past few months.
If the shape looks familiar, that's because this greenhouse is actually from the same frame that we used to build the big greenhouse a couple of years ago. One of our neighbors had a 150 foot greenhouse and sold us 100 feet to build the large one, which we use to grow heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers. Last fall, he generously gave us the remaining 50 feet as a wedding present.
Construction on the new greenhouse began last November. Curt cleared the area between our old small greenhouse and the road, then sank the foundation pipes for the greenhouse frame. He borrowed our uncle's jackhammer to make the hard work of pounding the pipes into our rocky ground a bit easier. Luckily, he was able to get all of the foundation pipes in the ground before it froze over the winter. The rest of construction had to wait until spring!
Once the ground thawed, we filled in the area inside the greenhouse with topsoil and leveled the area in front of the greenhouse with gravel. Our whole farm is rocky, but there are a few especially stony areas that we can dig our own gravel from. One of the benefits of being in such a rocky place! Then, our uncle brought his bulldozer over and helped level out the entire area.
Curt and Bob put up the frame over several days. First the big arching bows are pieced together and stood upright, then sunk into the foundation pipes. The bows are braced lengthwise with 1.5" diameter pipes called purlins. Curt then built wooden frames for the end walls out of lumber we milled from our own trees.
Putting the greenhouse plastic on is a team effort! It only takes a tiny gust of wind to pull the entire sheet out of your hands like a giant kite. We decided to put the plastic on in the early morning, which is usually the least windy part of the day. We assembled a big crew of friends and family to pull the enormous plastic sheet over the frame in one smooth motion.
The plastic is attached to the frame using wiggle wire, which traps the plastic in special metal or wood channels due to its zigzag shape. We sealed the end walls, then installed a door.
We installed PVC pipes along the bottom edges of the plastic on the long sides of the greenhouse, which lets us roll the greenhouse sides up and down to control the temperature and air flow. On the hottest days we roll them up, and on cooler nights we roll them down.
We installed a new-to-us wood furnace to heat the greenhouse on chilly spring nights. This furnace is large enough to keep the greenhouse above freezing all night long...usually! Just in case, we have a MarCell temperature sensor that will call and email us if the temperature gets below 45 degrees F.
So, what are we going to use this new greenhouse for? Well, our plant sales have become so popular that we have quickly outgrown the space in our small greenhouse, which is now hiding behind its larger sibling. We will still use the small greenhouse for starting seeds early in the season, but the new greenhouse gives us a lot more space to raise vegetable and plant starts for you to take home! The new greenhouse will also house our hanging baskets, which are already lining the purlins on the roof. We will start selling plants, flowers, and baskets out of the new greenhouse this spring! Eventually, we plan to build a wooden timber-framed front room on the new greenhouse, which can act as a checkout area during our plant sales and as a heated, insulated room for the most tender plants early in the season.
A few weeks ago, we hosted our first on-farm workshop inside the new greenhouse! Workshop participants learned how to start seeds using soil blocks, and took home a tray of 24 blocks for their home gardens.
We hope you will visit our new greenhouse during our plant sale this spring - we will be opening for the season on Friday, May 12th of Mother's Day Weekend! We have a wide variety of flower six-packs, vegetable starts in 4" pots, beautiful flowering hanging baskets, and more!