Archive for the ‘winter work’ Category

Icy on the outside, green on the inside

Well, this has certainly been a winter to remember, hasn’t it?  While the bitter winds howl, the snow falls, and the forecasters scramble to predict the next big storm, the tomato plants in our greenhouse merrily push out new growth with dreams of red tomatoes dancing in their heads.  Below is a picture of our greenhouse yesterday.

greenhouse outside

The contents of  the greenhouse…

tomatos in greenhouse

It’s amazing how fast plants grow.  Just a month ago, they looked like this.

tomato starts

Dave keeps things heated with a woodstove that sets about 25 feet away from the greenhouse.

heating the greenhouse

     Dave has been desperate to go out to prune the apple and peach trees, but with the low temperatures and the snow, it just isn’t good for the trees.

dog in peaches

Jack standing amongst the very dormant peach trees.


And here are the apple trees.

frosty apple

Stay warm and cozy in this weather.  And know this…the tomatoes cometh….as will the spring.  Let’s go spring!


A Farmer’s Work is Never Done

While Dave no longer is going to market, this doesn’t mean that he’s sitting around twiddling his thumbs.  (Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dave twiddling his thumbs.)

Traditionally, the day after Christmas is tomato planting day.

planting seedsDave staples some paper together to make a little sling for the seeds, then using the tip of a pencil, puts one seed in each hole.

display of seeds

These are the tomato seeds.  He said that this was a couple hundred dollars worth of seeds.

seed packetHe orders a very specific kind of seed which produces the tomatoes that you have come to know and love.  They are called Trust.

I have been a neglectful blogger, and didn’t take pictures for about a month.  I’ll try to describe what happens next.

When he is done he sprinkles a slight amount of potting soil on top and  pours water into the bottom of the tray where these brown seed plugs are.  The seeds plugs absorb the water and make a nice moist environment for the seed to germinate.  The trays are placed on a heat mat, covered with a special plastic, and placed under grow lights.  Once he sees about an inch of the plant, he will transplant it to a larger pot.

Today Dave took some pictures of the greenhouse for me.  This is what the plants look like right now.

rows of tomatoesHe has special grow lights on the tomatoes to artificially lengthen their time of daylight.

our years' supply of tomato plantsThese 6.5 tables of tomato plants will fill our greenhouse and keep you supplied with tomatoes from spring until summer.  It’s kind of hard to believe.

tomatoes like it hotTomatoes like it hot.  This leads me to the next set of pictures.

enclosure for tomatoesDave heats the greenhouse with a wood furnace.  He does most of the tree-chopping-down and likes to conserve as much heat as possible.  This little enclosure currently holds all the tomatoes and is the only part of the greenhouse being heated right now.  The black bags you see outside the enclosure have a mixture of top soil and potting soil and will eventually hold the tomato plants once they get a little bigger.

Dave spent the last few weeks putting in a curtain “ceiling” to conserve more heat once he is heating the entire greenhouse.  The greenhouse is only heated at night time.  During the day the wood furnace doesn’t need to burn wood since the sun efficiently heats the greenhouse all by its lonesome.

partially open

This curtain will ensure that at nighttime Dave will only be heating the bottom part of the greenhouse where the plants are, not the eaves of the greenhouse where the plants aren’t.  You  can see in the above picture that the curtain is halfway open (or closed…I’m an optimist).  During the daytime the curtain will be completely open to allow the sun’s heat to heat the greenhouse and at nighttime it is closed to conserve heat.

closedThis shows the curtain in its nighttime position — completely closed.

top of curtainHere you can see the curtains from above in the fully open position.  These curtains will eventually be on a timer.  Currently Dave manually opens and closes them.

Dave was so ready for this greenhouse curtain job to be done.  You may find this hard to believe, but he was positively giddy the day that the curtain was finished and he could start working outdoors pruning apples.

pruning 1This may not look like a dream job to you, but right now Dave is just loving his work.  He is pruning apple trees, cutting off any unnecessary branches to promote good apple production.  He was trying to explain his methods to me over lunch the other day.  The main jist is that you have to identify the central leader — the main trunk, and make sure that the other branches aren’t growing larger than the main trunk.  Also, pruning, counter-intuitive to what you may think, promotes growth.  A pruned tree will grow much more vigorously than an unpruned tree.

pruning 2

Dave works with a small hand pruner and a large lopper to get some of the bigger branches.  It’s cold work, but he’s loving it.