Monday, November 7, 2011

Greenhouse!

Greenhouse, It faces south.
The greenhouse is done!  We finally have it all completed and planted, and are excited to see how well things will grow.

First, Tim put the hoops up, and side supports.  We got some "woven poly" from Northern Greenhouse Supply, along with their poly-fastener, which worked quite well to stretch the poly across the hoops.  These are great products, and Bob was very helpful answering questions.  We received our order quickly, too.

Nice sliding door
After stretching the poly over the south side, we put some poly on the curved part of the side wall, still not sure what we would do for a door and the side by the wall of the house.  We managed to get a free, double-paned sliding door, which worked out perfectly.  It also has a screen door which we will add to it when we need the ventilation.  We still need to put in some vents on the far wall, but will do that in time.  Right now we don't really think we need it.  Soon we'll also be setting up a fan, just to get the air moving a bit.  We'll probably run it each day for awhile.

6 bins for planting
We had a few challenges, such as the bins we are using as beds.  We got some 350 gallon food-grade containers, cut them in half and put them on dollies so we can move them around a bit.  The weight of the soil in them made them each sag toward one side, so we had to support them better on the bottom with plywood.  This took extra time re-doing them before planting.  These had been used for barbeque sauce.  Even after cleaning, we still get an occasional whiff of the barbeque sauce.  Our veggies just may be pre-sauced!

We also had some challenges determining what kind of soil to use.  Some references suggested only using purchased potting soil, which we didn't want to do.  It would be a LOT of potting soil to buy.  We winged it with a mixture of plain Colorado soil at the bottom, gradually mixing in some soil we dug out from one of our raised beds (well amended) complete with lots of earthworms, some peat and perlite and homemade compost.  There's a higher percentage of perlite and compost near the top of each bin.  Hopefully this'll do the trick.

Bin with salad greens
I started most things in the house previously, under grow lights.  I wish I'd started more things sooner, but now I'll know better what I should start and when I should start them. I've planted salad greens (lettuce, spinach, endive, mizuna), cilantro, beets, kohlrabi, leeks, scallions, garlic, swiss chard, kale, peas, napa cabbage, rutabagas and a few carrots.  All of these things should do well in cooler weather.

Yesterday afternoon it was 80 degrees in there, while about 50-60 outside.  The
6 bins for planting
humidity inside is running around 50-60%, much more humid than outside most of the time.  This morning it was about 20 degrees outside, and over 40 in the greenhouse.  The soil temperature has been running around 60 degrees.

My potting bench & work area is neatly against the wall, and this is also where we keep the duck feed and get it ready to take out.  For the winter, we're taking their water out each day in a bucket, since we can't keep the well water hose out there in freezing temps.

As you can see, it's a pretty dandy setup!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ducks at 22 Weeks

Whitey, Drakey, and the four girls
The ducks are now 22 weeks old, and we had expected to see eggs by now.  Every morning I check, and still no eggs.  On about October 12th, at 18 weeks old, we put some fake eggs in their next boxes.  Hopefully this will teach them to lay them there, in the next boxes.  We've also been increasing their day length with artificial light coming on each morning, on a timer.  Each week or so it's been changed to come on earlier and earlier, but still no eggs.

Fake eggs in next boxes.

                                                              Some sources have suggested that they should start laying between 16-20 weeks of age, other suggest 20-24 weeks (so we're right in there), others mention that it won't be until the first spring after they were hatched.  We hope it's not the latter.

You can bet I'll be taking photos and posting when we get that first precious egg!