Greenhouses: We wouldn't be able to do it without you!
In our second post about our 75 acre farm we mentioned our plant trials, grow-outs, mail-order plants and seed crop production. With this many acres planted and more plants to grow we need plenty of space to start seedlings.
At our farm we have five full-size greenhouses approximately 25’ x 75’, plus a smaller greenhouse, and assorted hoop houses. Our greenhouses are covered in Tufflite IV polyethylene film, a 6 mil, UV protected plastic which lasts many years. The less frequently we have to replace our greenhouse plastic, the less waste we generate at our farm. The full-size greenhouses have automatic temperature control systems, which keeps the plants at the optimum temperature for germination and growth. They are also equipped with a modular irrigation system, which allows for drip, overhead, and hand-watering options.
Most of our greenhouses are equipped with tables, for easy access to plants, though we left one without to serve large plants, trees, and other plants which would need more space. While most of our tables are standard wood or metal mesh tops, one of our newer greenhouses is outfitted with something unique.
Each year we grow over 100,000 tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants for shipment directly to our customers, and these particular vegetables can be tricky to germinate since they like very warm soil temperatures. To speed up their germination we researched, designed and, a few years ago, installed custom heated tables. These tables are made of a light-weight cement, with heating elements embedded in them, so we can apply heat directly to the bottom of our plant trays, thus heating the seedlings soil very efficiently. This has increased our germination rate, and decreased the growing time for these varieties, which means we can produce more, large and healthy, plants in less time.
Our greenhouses allow us to start plants much earlier than our climate normally allows, and lets us continue working on projects well after frosts and freezes arrive in the Northwest. Each part of our farm is extremely important, from our fields, to our tractors and worm bin, but due to our contracted season, our greenhouses are a key element to our growing process that we would not be able to do without.
Author: Tim R.