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Greentree Naturals Newsletter Spring 2016

With the arrival of the first day of spring, the "greening" has begun. While I think this is an early spring, I also realize that there really isn't any normal for the weather anymore. We have been growing on this land where we live for almost 30 years and always have paid close attention to what the weather is doing. Most farmers do. I can only recall a couple of times that April was warm and sunny. The "norm" used to be cool April showers mixed with sleet and a little snow. Not unusual to have rain, sleet, snow and sunshine all in one day. It's supposed to be 78° this week (April 7). I can't say that I was ready for the gardening season and here it is. It just snuck up on me this year. How does something like this happen? Good question.

I spent the winter delving into the Small Farms Course with University of Idaho. While I have taught this course numerous times before, each time is very different. For this particular course, I had 26 students in person here at the Bonner County UI Extension office, and 144 on-line via a live webinar. Each webinar had presenters and participants from 8 different locations across the state (+ two time zones). Fortunately, I get to work with a remarkable group of women whom I greatly appreciate and respect. The webinar sessions took a considerable amount of coordinating and planning. All in all, this being the first year of a three year project, I believe it went very well. We worked out the kinks and when we go to offer it again next year, it should take less of my time. Growing new farmers is a passion that is most satisfying, but somewhat all consuming of my winter days. Maybe this is why spring snuck up on me.

While I was working with the Small Farms program, Thom was busy finishing up the big greenhouse, which pretty much took him all winter. The deadline for having it ready to grow as March 15th since this was my seed starting date, and he completed the interior right on time. Thom never ceases to amaze me. He got the wiring and electric systems going, hand dug an 80 ft four foot deep trench for the water line, and set up two germination chambers (one all florescent bulbs and one LED). Fantastic! I am so excited about all of this activity!

For 25+ years, I have been starting my seedlings in a 14x14' greenhouse that is attached to the house. Because of the limited size, I have had to carefully schedule a seeding calendar to allow for transplanting into larger pots to relocate over to a hoop house where the cool weather crops could grow up to a size before transplanting out into the field. When I sat down to make up my planting calendar, as I have for so many years, I realized that now with the big greenhouse, I don't have to stagger the planting dates so much because I have room! This year we have included native plants to our grow list. We are trialing three native shrubs, Syringa, Kinickinick, and Red Osier Dogwood along with seven native bunch grasses. Awesome and exciting reality of space!

I know that I will eventually use up every inch of space in there, as this is something that happens. Whatever amount of space you have, whether it's a house, a storage shed, a green house or garden space, you fill up what you have. For now, I have room to grow whatever I want to grow, and I'm loving it! The subterranean heating and cooling system has some kinks to work out, but it is working. Once we work out the tweaks, I will develop a "How to build a sustainable greenhouse" guide. I'm all about figuring out to do things and then sharing what we've learned with others. Stay tuned!

If you have any interest in keeping up to date on what's happening at Greentree Naturals, there's a link to our Facebook page on the website. During the growing season, I post photos and updates of what's happening on the farm almost daily. Become a friend of Greentree Naturals.

greenhouse and germination chamber


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