One of the most critical and often overlooked parts of the farm is the seeding and propagation house. With the CSA we are committed to producing an abundance each week during the summer, so we cannot mess around much with poor germination or faulty propagation practices. When we seed, we are planting into trays each with 264 origami cells per tray. Literally our trays are origami. The system we use is a Japanese invention that uses origami paper seeding trays, set into a sturdy plastic tray. We then transplant using an amazing simple hand tool design for planting that saves dozens of hours for work per year.
And we also use regular plastic seeding trays for many things too including tomatoes and peppers! Several crops like these get potted up as they grow bigger and stay longer in the propagation house than any other crop.
Even within our greenhouse we create unique microclimates to further enhance the growth of heat loving crops. This practice starts in our own basement in February and now is in full swing out in the greenhouse in April. We use rigid insulation, cold frames, leftover greenhouse plastic, building materials, and plastic tubing to create mini greenhouses within the greenhouse. We use a small electric heater to heat our ginger and greenhouse peppers and tomatoes to a toasty 85 degrees. And we use two professional grade heating mats to germinate heat loving crops and grow on our cucumbers. We don’t mess around or take any chances with these important crops.
We are getting closer, a few weeks even, to the first round of those crops goes in the ground. We heat the greenhouse with a propane heater, the kind you see in many workshops or box stores. We also use an automatic vent and fans to keep the temperature from rising too high. We are adding a wood pellet stove to reduce our propane use, and hoping to install some insulation around the whole base of both our greenhouses.
One other improvement we are making is a germination chamber. We are using a friends old refrigerator and converting it into what is know in the greenhouse trade as a “sweat box”. We will place our seeded trays into the insulated box that the fridge is and heat it by boiling water on a thermostat. This will make germination quicker and better. It will make the whole process of seeding more accurate and we can dedicate more time to other pieces of our farm.
I love the spring, there is so much going on and you have to dedicate yourself to the dance of the awakening world. Most days flow and so much happens, a few are overwhelming, and the rare few are relaxing, like this Sunday with family. There is the stress of the vulnerability of all the plants growing in a heated bubble in a climate of freezing rain and killing frosts. We do all that we can to protect these precious babies and toddlers whole feet are firmly rooting in the rich soil, warm temperature, and perfect moisture we pamper them with.