Our greenhouse is primarily passively heated. Just like any greenhouse, the sun shines through the transparent cover (plastic in our case) and heats everything up inside. The heat is then trapped in the enclosed space. We have done a few things to take further advantage of this amazing gift from the sun. We have black ground cloth on the ground draw more heat, also doubling to provide both a weed barrier. We also have an extra layer of plastic over the top with a fan that forces air between the two pieces, adding extra insulation. And to help with heat retention, we have dozens of barrels filled with water. This helps the greenhouse stay warmer during the cooler night hours by adding thermal mass. As the water slowly cools through the night, it release heat. For the really cold nights, we have a small heater that we can turn on. This is a necessary insurance policy.
Although once the seeds are germinated and sprouted, they are much more tolerant of the lower nighttime temperatures, germination can sometimes be slowed and germination rates can be lower when subjected to them. Since we can't have that, we devised a plan: Germination Chamber! We tried a version of this last year off the cuff and it worked so well we decided to make it an actual plan. We sectioned off a small part of our insulated shipping container with insulation board and duct tape. We will be heating it with an electric heater- minimum energy input for maximum effect! It will stay pleasantly balmy, making it a perfect place for our seedlings to get the start they need. The only tricky part is timing. It is critical that as soon as the hypocotyl (stem emerging from the seed) peeks through the surface of the potting mix, we move the seedlings into the greenhouse. If we don't time this step just right, the seedlings will expend extensive amounts of energy reaching for an absent sun, all the advantages of a fast germination lost. If you have ever seen a house plant reaching for the sun, stretching itself out, or with all of its leaves facing the window, that will give you a good idea of what can happen to the seedlings. However, because they are so small, and are working only on energy stored in the seed, this error usually has mortal consequences. Plants left in this situation will be pale, stretched out, and weak. That being said, we don't plan to leave them in there too long! We will be checking the chamber twice a day to stay on top of it.
There is one more piece of news I want to share with you and it is about my friend Jess Niederer at Chickadee Creek Farm. She is one of the most tenacious, pragmatic, prescient, principled,committed, thoughtful, loving, and considerate people I know. I have been glad to know her since I met her. So it isn't surprising that she won the Outstanding Young Farmer Award both in New Jersey and Nationally!!! I am so pleased that she is being acknowledged as the wicked skilled farmer that she is! Here is what she had to say about it in her email this week:
The big news is that this past weekend we won the title 2016 National Outstanding Young Farmer. This is awarded to four farmers between the ages of 18 and 40 each year, with a candidate pool from across the country. I felt very honored of course, and I was also very shocked! The other candidates were from BIG farms. One farmed close to 6,000 acres of grain, another had a 350 head herd of dairy cows, another did 200 acres of vegetables. At 19 total acres, and 9 acres in vegetables, I was the farmer of the smallest farm they have ever selected. In 60 years with 240 winners, they had not typically selected organic farmers (only one before this year), women (only five ever), or especially single women (I was the first one of those anomalies). I do not believe that is because the organization (Outstanding Farmers of America) is backwards, but because agriculture is an industry that could use a few "accidents" happening to the glass ceilings. Here's to happy accidents!
As you can see, it is exciting for organic farmers, "small" farmers, and women in agriculture alike! Way to go Jess!!!! We are so proud!
Now that I have all that news out of the way, let me remind you to come visit us in Flemington tomorrow. We have lots of potatoes for making french fries, carrots for making soup, turnips for munching, and onions and garlic for everything!
CSA SIGN UPS STILL GOING ON!! And just in case you are missing the link:
Here is a link to the 2016 sign-up sheet.
Copy and paste this long jumble if the link doesn't work: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2h20Cp9NhW0YVZfeHJOanZJNVE/view?usp=sharing
Fresh from the Field!
Carrots!! - baby
Onions: Red and Yellow
Potatoes: Classic and Fingerling!
Sweet Salad Turnips: Tasty and crisp. I have resorted to just eating them like apples!
Helen, Jim, Exie the Dog and Ruby the Fox Ver 2.16 (new version hopefully coming soon)