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The Greenhouse—Part 3, Finishing Up

I hesitate to say it’s finished, but the greenhouse is “mostly” finished, and we’re using it! Couldn’t have done it all without Dad’s help (and his impressive tool collection).

The end walls and screens were really hard to put up. We’ve had wind in the 20-mph range consistently all month, which made it impossible to hang fabric on the frame. Finally we had a calm day, and we were able to attach the fabric to the end wall. The end wall fabric is a single sheet of white 40% shadecloth that we doubled over to make it two layers. My dad helped me build the doors and stretch the screens. The screens on the side walls are a single roll of 84″ wide aluminum screen. The screens and the end wall fabric are fastned to the walls first with staples to hold them in place, and then also with strips of lath to provide extra holding friction.

Putting up the end walls
Putting up the end walls

 

For washing and packaging fresh produce inside the greenhouse we bought a used stainless steel sink from AAA Food Equipment in Austin. Holy cow, that place has just about everything, in any condition from brand new to completely beat up. This sink will be our washing station for fresh greens. We still need to buy a metal table for packaging, but we’ll pick that up later when it becomes an issue.

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Our produce-washing sink.

 

Here’s a picture of the inside. We also bought those shelves at AAA. They’ll be used for microgreens. We have a wooden worktable, which you can see just to the left. The small house inside is our dry storage. It’s our old plastic mini-greenhouse. The big greenhouse is no shelter from the rain – the shadecloth just lets rain right through! The sides of the mini greenhouse can be zipped up to keep the insides dry when it rains. This is where we’ll store our supplies, seeds, and anything that needs to be kept dry. 

Inside the Greenhouse.
Inside the Greenhouse.

 

We still have to run water and electricity (for the aquaponics) out there. But it’s serviceable  and we started our first batch of microgreens yesterday!

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Fresh Veggies Today

We have fresh veggies ready for pickup today (May 21)! We were planning to deliver to our friends at the Regina Mater park day, but we decided to stay home because of the threat of severe thunderstorms this afternoon. If you happen to be in the Elgin area, come by and pick up some produce. We’ll also deliver as far out as Manor today – just call us at (512) 285-3292.

Here’s what we have:

  • Red potatoes  $2 per bag
  • Giant onions $2 per bag
  • Boxed salad mix $3 per box
  • Baby kale $2 per bag
  • Snap peas $2 per box
  • Green onions $1 per bag
  • Green beans $2 per box
Fresh Veggies Today
Fresh Veggies Today

 

Call us at (512) 285-3292 for delivery in Elgin, Manor, or Taylor! Or drop by and visit us.

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What’s Growing This Week May 12-18

What’s growing this week at Ragtime Ranch Family Farm…

We have lots and lots of baby kale leaves perfect for cold salads or including in hot dishes. The sugar snap peas are still producing like crazy! The kids love to eat them fresh off the vine, but they are also great in a stir fry. There is a limited amount of green onions, eggs, and early tomatoes.
Coming soon… tomatoes, green beans, and more sunflower Microgreens.

The girls harvesting snap peas.
The girls harvesting snap peas.
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The Greenhouse—Part 2, the Shade Covering

The greenhouse shade covering is on! Special thanks to our new neighbors Devin & Katie Rose and our new friend and fellow farmer Kate from Tiger Creek Farm here in Elgin.

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For our covering material we chose 60% black shade cloth, which we ordered from Greenhouse Megastore. To get it over we simply tied a rope to two ends of the fabric, tossed the rope over, and pulled. It was a lot easier than everyone thought it would be!

We used tube lock base and clip around the base to secure the cloth to the sides. We secured the ends to the end walls using spring lock base and springs. If we do it again I’ll use the spring lock everywhere because it’s more economical and much easier to work with.

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Hoophouse  Covering - 13

Hoophouse  Covering - 10

Hoophouse  Covering - 12

Beautiful, eh?

Still to do: we still need to mount the screen on the side walls, and add the fabric and plastic on the end walls. But we’ll leave that for another day.

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The Greenhouse

At Growing Power we learned how to build a hoop house. In fact we actually helped to actually build it. Armed with that experience we decided it was time to build our own hoop house. Our hoop house is similar to the one we built at GrowingPower, but quite a bit taller. The dimensions are 20′ wide by 50′ long.

Materials

We decided to use a materials list pretty similar to the one used at GrowingPower. The side walls are constructed of 1 5/8″ chain link line posts, and the hoops are 1 3/8″ chain link tubes. The sides will be screen, and the covering will be shade cloth in the summer and plastic in the winter.

Frame Strength

The advantage of using chain link materials is that they are inexpensive, easy to acquire, and easy to work with. On the other hand, I wish the posts and hoops were a little more rigid. I hope to compensate with extra purlins (long braces run the length of the hoop house, tying the hoops together lengthwise), diagonal braces, and strong end walls. Side wall posts are placed at 5′ intervals. Because of our location we get some pretty strong sustained winds for much of the year. If we were building a larger greenhouse I would not consider using these materials – I would opt for much more rigid materials. However I think they’ll work – we shall see.

The Bending Jig

We built our own bending jig to bend the hoops. This jig was exactly like the one that was demonstrated at GrowingPower. It’s built by drawing an arc on a sheet of plywood, and then attaching blocks of wood on the line of the arc, and finally attaching two sheets of lath to the edge of the blocks to create a smooth curved surface on which to bend the hoops. The radius of the jig is slightly smaller than the actual radius of the hoops. This particular jig bends the pipes just right for a 20′ wide structure.IMG_3686 Continue reading The Greenhouse

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Miss Broodypants

This is Miss Broodypants. She adopted a clutch of eggs and would not budge. If anyone approached she would puff herself up to twice her size and make a ghastly cawing sound. Trouble is, she’s a bantam hen, and her butt is barely big enough to cover three eggs. In the end we had to discourage her from sitting on the eggs, since she was taking up valuable real estate. Sorry Miss Broodypants!