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Greenhouse Chores

November 13, 2013
mid-May 2013

mid-May 2013

Just one look at this photo makes me a bit wistful for spring.  Well, more than a bit.



The greenhouses get put to bed for winter.  Here that means removing warm-season plant debris usually by sheep, rescuing tomato clips, tying tomato twine out of the way, removing plastic mulch, irrigation, and adding a light mulch.  A controversial thing we do is remove the covers and expose the growing space to the weather.  In part because of the 20 year snows we get here that can collapse this style of greenhouse and partly because I was thoroughly convinced Eliot Coleman is right about the rejuvenation of the soil from his moveable greenhouse system.  Three years of growing in this space after winter removal of the cover has me totally on board with this.  It’s also got Hangdog on board too, since he decreed he would never build another greenhouse.  We can’t move our greenhouses due to the lay of the land, we’ll just let the weather in and forgo winter salads.  So not a problem since we have hardy greens growing anyway.  I say this is controversial because of what our neighbors and friends think.  One neighbor was so bold as to ask us to give him our greenhouse because we weren’t “using” it.

view from GH1 to GH2

view from GH1 to GH2

Our greenhouse rotation consists of swapping crops from one greenhouse to another in different years.  While it appears from the road we aren’t using our growing space, rest assured we are.  All the winter kale and cabbage is safely inside the greenhouse where the deer haven’t been bold enough to enter as long as we keep the doors closed.

Sheep love chard

Sheep love chard

A few days with the sheep grazing and eating crop residues makes my job of cleanup much easier.  They pretty much defoliate most the plants just leaving the woody stems.

Pepper plants

Pepper plants

The clips are much easier to get at after the sheep treatment and I have less debris to remove too.

discard pile

discard pile

These clips last several years,  and on their third year now I did find some that had broken.  Usually it’s the size of the stem that gets them.  The stems grow large enough to burst the clip.  By that time though the plant is fully supported and you are none the wiser until you remove them at the end of the season.

tomato clips

tomato clips

tomato root

tomato root

After clip removal I pull the plants, it’s always pretty amazing to see the roots on these plants.

I like seeing what has went on under the plastic mulch all summer.  I see some weed growth, some weed suppression and some fungal activity.  I used both the red and dark green mulch this summer, and could see no difference between the two.  Except maybe that the red mulch tricks you into thinking you’re seeing a ripe tomato early.

The twine lasts too, but to keep it from getting tangled up on the purlins and bows during winter storms, I have found tying it up keeps it pretty tangle-free.  This also keeps it out of the way of the tractor when I till.

Season's end

Season’s end

This growing space sure looks bleak in November, I am almost done removing items in here, and hopefully before I know it, it will be spring again and looking like this.

sweet dreams are made of this

sweet dreams are made of this

I have a totally non-related question for my readers…how many of you are seeing thumbnail sized photos when you view the blog?  Several have mentioned this and sometimes when I am viewing the post in preview, I see them too, or just captions and no photos.  I have been told it’s a WordPress glitch, and I do know if I go back to the draft, then back to preview the photos appear to be the correct size.  Just wondering.

43 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2013 10:19 am

    I see the photos full-sized….

  2. VaGirl2 permalink
    November 13, 2013 10:24 am

    I see full sized photos…

  3. Mich permalink
    November 13, 2013 10:25 am

    I see the photos full sized too 🙂

  4. Bev permalink
    November 13, 2013 10:33 am

    Sheep for clean-up sounds good. One year we let our two horses in our outdoor garden. A large garden area. We laughed. Didn’t do that again. They packed that soil down!
    We get full sized lovely pics.

  5. November 13, 2013 10:36 am

    The second and third photos are thumbnail size, the rest full sized.

  6. November 13, 2013 10:37 am

    When the page re-loaded after I commented, the errant photos have become full sized.

  7. Fid permalink
    November 13, 2013 10:39 am

    full size here too… you ask so little of us. 😉 have a great day!

  8. November 13, 2013 10:40 am

    I read your blog using Feedly, and the photos are full-sized.

    • November 13, 2013 5:49 pm

      Yep, most often I read via feedly and the pictures are full-sized. I LOVE your pictures!

      Are chickens any good at such clean up, I wonder? Though I’m not likely to have any of these animals in the near future, I’m more likely to have chickens than sheep.

      • November 14, 2013 5:56 am

        Mama Rachael, yes chickens are very good at clean-up! If the cover was on I would put the chickens and the sheep in together. Unfortunately we got a nice pair of Red-tailed Hawks that nest near the greenhouses, making chicken dinner a possible menu item for the hennies 😦

  9. November 13, 2013 11:11 am

    Hey, if you are giving out greenhouses…well, you have my address.

    • November 13, 2013 11:42 am

      It’s the shipping that kills ya! At least they deliver here for a small fuel surcharge, I would hate to order one that wasn’t local.

  10. Ben permalink
    November 13, 2013 12:16 pm

    Never had an issue with the photo size. Question on the removal of plastic, or rather the re-putting-on of plastic. I seem to tear it slightly when doing the wire lock, how do you avoid that? I would think putting it on every year would tear it along the wire locked part enough to be unusable…?

    • November 13, 2013 3:22 pm

      Ben, it must be different browsers that sometimes have a problem. I didn’t think about much until I got a couple comments about it.

      We’re on the third time of removal, and considering that the first year we left it on with a roll-up top that didn’t work, it held water :p and we had to slit it to drain it to take off the weight :p, it’s actually holding up well. We don’t have any wind in the summer to speak of, so I don’t think ours gets as stressed as yours might. It is showing some wear, but in our situation, it’s more peace of mind to know it absolutely can’t collapse. What happens where we are located is that we get the heavy snow, which they can stand, and then since we’re up on top the gorge, we get the south wind that warms us a bit and then it cools down, so we have ice and melting snow and more melting snow, half mile down the road where the gorge winds hit, it stays colder, a lot of the snow blows away and there isn’t so much of a problem. The only thing worse than building a greenhouse is tearing down a mangled one and rebuilding in the same spot 😦

      Things we could do different? Put in truss supports, put in posts, tear these structures out and put in 20′ wide semi-quonset. As it turns out even if we had to buy plastic every 4th year, it would still be more cost effective than the other options. I know it seems dumb that we rebuilt these exactly the same as the ones that collapsed, but tearing out the posts set in concrete wasn’t something we wanted to do, and we would have lost quite a bit of growing space since our land slopes away from the greenhouse site. So that would take us down to 20 x 72 instead of 30 x 72.

      It’ll be interesting to see how long it does last.

      • Ben permalink
        November 15, 2013 10:32 am

        Makes sense. We have two of the 20′ quonsets. I think you’re smart to do the bigger ones with caution. Makes sense if you’re putting in the work to go ahead and get a lot of square footage. I have a few farmer friends that have put up bigger ones, so we’ll see how they do. I end up going out everyday it snows and knocking snow off anyways, don’t want to risk it!

        • November 15, 2013 12:04 pm

          Ben, our little quonsets are so much easier to knock the snow off of too. Both have their merits, the quonsets took that big snow in ’08 the semi-gable spans didn’t. Gut wrenching feeling to see that 😦 x 3 Sickening is actually more like it. That snow also cracked the 2 x 12 rafters in our shop too, so it was heavy. I can live with this since I’m not all that convinced we would be growing anything in there anyway during the winter time frame. That’s the beauty of our location I guess, a little cold, but not really, most things survive outside.

          Interestingly when we used these for winter hen housing the heat from the chickens kept the snow at bay.

  11. November 13, 2013 3:06 pm

    That’s a good greenhouse you’ve got there, Nita. It must give you a great sense of the seasons to do these types of chores.

    Re the photos, I’ve been reading your blog for several years and have only ever seen full size photos.


  12. November 13, 2013 3:14 pm

    Full size. Love the green houses. We just built raised beds today to us in January, there are two growing seasons in Flcorida, the tomatoes are being harvested now and shipped.

  13. November 13, 2013 4:36 pm

    Always full size. Love you blog and all the info you provide.

  14. November 13, 2013 6:29 pm

    The pix look fine on my iphone. I really like the idea of letting nature back into the greenhouse as well as preserving your investment in infrastructure. I am saving this information away until I’m back on my few acres in Olympia. Thanks for all the helpful posts. They’ve helped keep me sane while working two years in Alaska!

  15. November 13, 2013 11:26 pm

    Full sized for me. Happens on some blogs but usually corrects itself if I reload the page.

  16. November 14, 2013 12:55 am

    I thought Eliot Coleman’s moving greenhouse was pretty awesome too. I’m wordpress and always see full sized photos.

  17. November 14, 2013 2:57 am

    Here, the photos have always been correct.

    And I’m jealous of the greenhouses…

  18. Alison permalink
    November 14, 2013 3:44 am

    Full-sized photos here, too.
    Interesting to see you’re using the red plastic mulch. I tried that one year, and all the aphids in the world just covered the tomato plants. It’s as if the much was attracting them! Mid season I took it up and put down straw. The ladybug larvae took care of the aphids. Stopped using that mulch and it never happened again. Not a very scientific conclusion, but good enough for me.

  19. November 14, 2013 4:39 am

    I was just floored by the brass of your neighbor! Good golly, that’s the kind of thing where you just have to laugh, isn’t it?

    • November 14, 2013 6:00 am

      Quinn, we were too, once we realized what he was really wanting. First he started out asking questions about what grows good in a greenhouse, he wanted to grow corn (big waste of space for such a low yield crop) then he segued into the “Well, you’re not using them, I helped a friend put one up that he got for free…is yours available…for free?” Phooey!

  20. November 14, 2013 6:03 am

    Thanks everybody! I was hoping the photos were looking alright to you – I think they are pretty important to the blog 🙂

  21. Barb in CA permalink
    November 14, 2013 7:07 am

    Matron, quick question about your sheep. I know you use them for clean-up in several places, and you’ve also said you won’t be getting any more, but I’ve never read that you shear them. Obviously not this time of year, but do you? Yourself? I agree that your pics add so much to the blog. The info would be invaluable either way, but the pictures are what help us understand it all so clearly. Thanks again for your wonderful blog!

  22. November 14, 2013 8:29 am

    They are important to the blog indeed.

    Not had much time to comment, just read and I’m jealous of your celeriac. I planted loads this year and I thought the drought we had actually set them back and so I was surprised that yours do so well in the dry. I wonder what else was the matter! We lost a couple of chickens just lately to some flying bird, probably a hen harrier. Fortunately one was not an egg layer and not sure the other one was particularly prolific. Mind you none of the adults are particularly prolific at the moment – time of the year I know but also they are probably just not laying in their hutch. Our new ones will be online soon though 🙂 and they are cooped up in the greenhouse now

  23. November 14, 2013 10:51 am

    Great Blog with great photos. I’m just in the process of beginning an “urban homestead” and your site is a wealth of information. Seems that having a few goats around to help with cleanup is a pretty common thing; guess I should start looking into it.

  24. November 14, 2013 12:19 pm

    I see all full sized photos with captions where they should be!

    Oh, my envy for your lovely greenhouse – in all seasons! Spring will be here before we know it and until then, have a good time of “rest” (Not really!)

  25. judy permalink
    November 14, 2013 2:17 pm

    Always see full size photos! 🙂

  26. Beth permalink
    November 14, 2013 3:30 pm

    I don’t think I’ve seen the thumbnails lately…… but used to see them all the time. I just click on the picture then hit the back arrow, then all in the post are large. Beth in Ky.

  27. Mitty permalink
    November 14, 2013 3:59 pm

    I’ve never had a problem with your photos–always full size–and I love them!

  28. November 14, 2013 4:18 pm

    I’ve never had issues with the photographs, they’ve allways showed up full sized for me. The blog reader I use does have fits when you use the fancy graphics for the first letter. It always puts them on the far right of the screen, although occasionally they don’t show up at all.

  29. Nicky permalink
    November 14, 2013 5:54 pm

    Hi I have to completely agree with you on opening up the greenhouse to winter weather. I only have a small one and the second year it was up, I noticed the soil looked and acted strange.( dont know how else to discribe it) I opened it up, let the rain in and the next year, my soil was wonderful. Thats when I read Eliot Colemans book and confirmed what I had noticed. I think the rain carrys nutrients that are no longer in the ground water. I notice plants that even if I water them a lot, look healthier after rain.

    • November 14, 2013 6:02 pm

      Nicky, exactly. It’s like a rain in the summer compared to irrigation. Watering a garden never wakes it up like a summer rain does. I found that I never could get the greenhouse really wet enough. Now things do much better.

  30. November 15, 2013 2:49 pm

    I see full sized!

    Thank you for sharing so much information. I’m pretty sure I irritate my husband when I ask, “Can we try X the next planting season?”

  31. November 15, 2013 11:57 pm

    I always see full sized.
    Great posts as ever – so informative and it makes me think about how I am growing my few veggies in the garden.

  32. November 17, 2013 11:58 am

    That’s pretty ballsy of your neighbor to ask you to give him your greenhouse! I usually see full-sized photos, but on occasion they will be tiny.

  33. November 19, 2013 9:27 am

    Nice post. Looks-a-like-a good set up to my eyes. Warn of these days we’ll get us a green house, clips and everything.

  34. November 24, 2013 8:26 am

    I see full sized photos. Love your blog.

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