[Homestead] Seed starting methods
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Thu Feb 2 11:38:14 EST 2006
> Do you replace the plastic sheeting every year? How does it do in windy
Yes, the UV destroys the plastic in about 10 months. The deal with the
expensive UV resistant plastics is that in commercial operations the labor costs
would eat them up replacing the covers every year. Here it's an hour's work of
our own labor and so we could never justify the cost of the better plastic.
This design is #3. No's 1 and 2 blew away. This has withstood 45 mph winds,
about as bad as it ever gets here and even that is very rare. The trick is
that the structure is not rigid. The central poles and post poles are 18" in
the ground but loose filled so that they can move a little. Around the
perimeter are 3' long 1 1/4" pvc attached firmly to the rails with those
omega-shaped conduit straps and then the main ribs sit in those loosely: thus:
(The fencing is only there to keep the goats from punching though the
plastic, if you don't have goats, you don't need it). Also where the ribs pass
through another omega-clamp at the ridge, they are loose.
The result is that the the whole greenhouse can move in the wind, but just
not very mucy. It' s sort of a Buddhist arrangement, recall how the Buddha
heard a musician giving instruction to his pupil which set him on the road to
enlightenment when the musician said, "If the string is too tight, it will break.
If the string s too loose, it will not play." Same with greenhouses. Same
>How cold does it get outside and inside the hoophouse where you are?
On the working benches, if it gets zero outside, it gets zero inside. The
idea here is not to keep a heated greenhouse that is warm all the time, but
rather to make use of trapped sunlight (and therefore heat) when it is available
with the AVERAGE temperature in the greenhouse being well above the AVERAGE
For example, if you plant tomato seeds in your house and keep them, say,
above the refrigerator where it is always warm, they will germinate in seven days
with 90% germination. In my greenhouse with its fluctuating temps and
liability for a real chill, the tomato seeds may take 20 days to germinate and then
at a rate of 75% (although I ususally do better than this). Fine. That's good
enough for me. I want a lot of tomato plants and I'm not in a hurry.
I watch the weather reports like a religious devotion. If the weather is
going to turn freezing, I don't water the seedlings for a couple of days before
since full hydration of the cells causes the most damage. In those few and
short spells of really freezing weather from the end January on, I take down the
flats, stack them in the center of the greenhouse, cover them with a plastic
drop cloth, and light a kerosene lamp. Gene's idea of a crock pot would work
even better, but I have no electricity there. When the cold passes, I put
things back on the benches again.
By late April or early May, it is 100 degrees or more routinely in the
greenhouse. By June I cut out the end pannels and it will still get 120. So I
grow some peppers, eggplants, and sweetpotatoes in buckets and barrels in there.
I grow those things in the garden too, but the greenhouse plantings hedge the
A neighbor had me build one of these for him and in the summer he uses it as
a lumber drying kiln.
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