should understand that not all glass houses are the same. But we’ll get to that.
This year we have been seeding all of our own flats and taking care of them (watering, thinning, potting on, feeding, and so on).
We were able to do this through a partnership with Virginia Highlands Community College’s Horticulture Department. The hort students have a focus on aquaculture this semester, and there is a lot more room in the greenhouse, if you don’t mind tilapia. We don’t since their waste is good for the plants.
Tom Peterson, an ASD employee and great help to Deni and I teaches “Four Seasons Food Production” at the college. The three of us scheduled a meeting with Joel Keebler, head of the hort department to tell him of our project and see if we could use some greenhouse and potting shed space. We were overwhelmed when Joel said we could seed and house all of our plants here, and also the greenhouse work study students would water our flats for us on their work days.
This is such a supportive in-kind donation to ASD, and, we hope, a way for students to learn more about vegetable production/food security work in their area, and the opportunities that exist for them to share their increasing knowledge with others.
I enrolled in Tom’s class to strengthen my knowledge for our project, and to also support the horticulture department. It has been so wonderful working there; Joel’s knowledge and humor add to the experience, and we are welcome to use the “keys to the kingdom” whenever we need–we’ve begun a regular Tuesday seeding time with volunteers.
Troubles fade in this glass enclosure, as one rhythmically mixes soil, fills cells, fills hands with seed.
The greenhouse is packed with unusual tropicals, and woody plants quietly emerging from dormancy as their buds unfurl when sensing the enveloping heat.
Unfortunately the cockroaches also like it in there. I guess they were the only land-creature to survive the big bang (according to my next-door neighbor). Not sure how they did that but I wouldn’t put it past them.
And about the tropical plants…this greenhouse is not geared towards food production. It is very hot, and hotter than we anticipated. Our brassicas exploded rapidly. We believe the hot nights are a big factor…the temperatures don’t really cool off in there and the little plants are probably searching for light when sensing all the night heat. They have weak stems and explode in growth, and use up the nutrients in their cells quickly. Things got better when we fertilized with fish emulsion and took many of the flats to a cold frame. The onion plants have been relatively chill throughout this whole situation. They look to be in good health and grew slower than I anticipated, which actually has been working out with the weather.
They are already ready to come outside…but we are NOT ready.
We will need to adjust our seeding schedule and shorten the flat-to-field times we had planned. We will do another seeding of brassicas and give these plants out to whomever is ready (ie has some ground worked up previously and has some protection whether cold frame, hoop house, or row cover.
It isn’t good for a plant to get this big inside before going outside–it will use up the food in its cell and has done a lot of its major growth inside in a sterile growing medium–the wind would make short work of these white-collar office folk.
We will feed with fish emulsion and thin earlier than we had before. but it is all we can do for now. We can’t control the horticulture department’s temperature wishes…so much to learn as per usual. But it is never the end. You mess up, you reseed, you can always replant.
One keeps on striving, sending out sensitive root-hairs searching for a way.