02.22.12

Our Propagation Greenhouse Rocks!

Posted in Greenhouse Maintenance, Projects at 8:11 am by Farmer

Literally. We have hauled in and spread nearly 25 tons of gravel amongst our propagation greenhouse. All of this as part of project “Get rid of muck from the propagation greenhouse.” Danielle and Justin spearheaded this project so if you need advice or help with your propagation greenhouse you should speak with them!
It is such a pleasure working in our propagation greenhouse, not worrying if you will soil your shoes in situations where you simply forgot to wear your muck boots.
About 15 tons of rocks (a.k.a. gravel) that we spread across our propagation greenhouse space.

About 15 tons of rocks (a.k.a. gravel) that we spread across our propagation greenhouse space.

Besides getting rid of muck, we love that we have plenty of isle space between benches, it is so easy to navigate with your arms full of flats. Not to mention, we have 8 benches, rather than 3, helping us to better keep our transplants organized.  Just so you know, all of our farm profits from last year have been invested in this propagation greenhouse, but it is going to be much more enjoyable working in this space.
Danielle and Justin “Kicked Off” this project the first week of January removing our old propagation benches and landscape fabric. After they were done with this, we started with a clean slate, then finalized a plan to have 8 propagation benches rather than 3, all the while adding a little more growing space.
This is a photograph of our propagation greenhouse before project, "Get Rid Of Muck from the Propagation Greenhouse"

This is a photograph of our propagation greenhouse before project, "Get Rid Of Muck from the Propagation Greenhouse". During the first phase of this project Danielle and Justin removed the above benches and landscape fabric.

Our old wooden propagation bench tops removed from the propagation space.

Our old wooden propagation bench tops removed from the propagation space.

Our old propagation bench frames removed from the propagation space.

Our old propagation bench frames removed from the propagation space.

Our old weed barrier, loaded with weeds, nevertheless removed from our propagation greenhouse.

Our old weed barrier, loaded with weeds, nevertheless removed from our propagation greenhouse.

Our top priority in renovating the greenhouse was to get rid of the “muck” caused because of poor drainage. We must thank Henry French for the engineering phase of this project.  He published a book in 1859 titled, “”Farm Drainage”, so we are continuing his tradition here on the farm.  If you want advice for a “French Drain”, I would highly recommend Danielle and Justin, who dug trenches around the greenhouse perimeter and in between each propagation greenhouse bench pad just to be sure the water is routed outside the greenhouse. We hope that this drainage will keep our feet dry throughout the season. Danielle and Justin verified that their trenches were sloped, so that the water would flow, by using the transit. After they dug the trenches, we lined each trench with landscape fabric and a couple inches of rock (a.k.a. gravel). We hauled and spread a lot of gravel into these trenches.
Danielle pickaxing the trenches for our french drainage system.

Danielle pickaxing the trenches for our french drainage system.

Justin cleaning out a trench with the hoe.  After the soil is loosened with the pickaxe, Justin used a hoe to pull it into a pile, and then it is shoveled out of the trench.

Justin cleaning out a trench with the hoe. After the soil is loosened with the pickaxe, Justin used a hoe to pull it into a pile, and then it is shoveled out of the trench.

Justin using the transit to check the slope of the trench.  We aimed for a 1/8 inch drop per foot of ground so water would easily drain to the outside of our greenhouse.

Justin using the transit to check the slope of the trench. We aimed for a 1/8 inch drop per foot of ground so water would easily drain to the outside of our greenhouse.

Justin and Danielle dug all these trenches, all approximately a foot deep, just so we don't have to walk through muck this season!  You will notice that our greenhouse propagation bench pads are in between the trenches.

Justin and Danielle dug all these trenches, all approximately a foot deep, just so we don't have to walk through muck this season! You will notice that our greenhouse propagation bench pads are in between the trenches.

Putting landscape fabric down in the trench.  This should keep the dirt from clogging the pipe.

Putting landscape fabric down in the trench. This should keep the dirt from clogging the pipe.

Justin pouring gravel into the trench with pipe.  We put a couple of inches below the pipe, then fill the entire trench with gravel (a.k.a rocks).

Justin pouring gravel into the trench with pipe. We put a couple of inches below the pipe, then fill the entire trench with gravel (a.k.a rocks).

Danielle, Justin and Carl connecting pipes where the trenches merge.  We used couplers, T’s and Y’s to join pipes from each of the trenches between the greenhouse bench pads.  We have a trench down the center of the greenhouse to capture the water from the uphill side of the greenhouse propagation bench pads.  We also have a trench along the lower side of the greenhouse that captures the water from the lower side of the greenhouse propagation bench pads.

Danielle, Justin and Carl connecting pipes where the trenches merge. We used couplers, T’s and Y’s to join pipes from each of the trenches between the greenhouse bench pads. We have a trench down the center of the greenhouse to capture the water from the uphill side of the greenhouse propagation bench pads. We also have a trench along the lower side of the greenhouse that captures the water from the lower side of the greenhouse propagation bench pads.

Danielle holding the pipe down, keeping the plastic to the side, all the while someone is pouring gravel into the trench.  The pipe tends to want to come up, so to keep it low so that our slope is correct and the water drains, you must spread gravel along the pipe to weight the pipe down.

Danielle holding the pipe down, keeping the plastic to the side, all the while someone is pouring gravel into the trench. The pipe tends to want to come up, so to keep it low so that our slope is correct and the water drains, you must spread gravel along the pipe to weight the pipe down.

The entire drain pipe has been laid and gravel is now covering the pipe!

The entire drain pipe has been laid and gravel is now covering the pipe!

After the trenches were completed, Danielle and Justin leveled the pads for each of the propagation benches. We are leveling these pads with the hope of one day implementing radiant heat underneath each propagation bench. Before implementing radiant heat we need to make a little more money off the farm which we hope to do through Farm Vacations. We are reusing the frames from our old benches so before leveling the bench pads, Carl and Justin re-made the frame into 12 foot lengths using our old 24 foot length frames. This gave Justin and Danielle a couple frames for use in leveling each of the 8 bench pads.
Danielle and Justin used solid concrete cap blocks for locating each of the propagation bench legs.  This is so the bench does not sink into the mud.  They dug a hole for each cap block to the depth so that each block was level with one another.  Not such an easy job considering that each propagation bench has 6 legs and we now have 8 individual benches! They used a 4 foot bubble level for leveling each propagation bench.

Danielle and Justin used solid concrete cap blocks for locating each of the propagation bench legs. This is so the bench does not sink into the mud. They dug a hole for each cap block to the depth so that each block was level with one another. Not such an easy job considering that each propagation bench has 6 legs and with 8 individual benches! They used a 4 foot bubble level for leveling each propagation bench.

After the pads were leveled we waited a few weeks while the parts for building the remaining bench frames arrived.  FINALLY, our order arrived 3 weeks late, with our landscape fabric.  We had plans for laying down a double layer of landscape fabric to prevent weed growth, but since our greenhouse supplier screwed up our order, we only put down one layer. In addition, this landscape fabric was much thinner that what we had ordered.  SO PRAY that the weeds don’t take over.  Photograph taken by Danielle Keeter.

After the pads were leveled we waited a few weeks while the parts for building the remaining bench frames arrived. FINALLY, our order arrived 3 weeks late, with our landscape fabric. We had plans for laying down a double layer of landscape fabric to prevent weed growth, but since our greenhouse supplier screwed up our order, we only put down one layer. In addition, this landscape fabric was much thinner that what we had ordered. SO PRAY that the weeds don’t take over. Photograph taken by Danielle Keeter.

Once Danielle and Justin finished putting down a layer of landscape fabric, they hauled in rocks (a.k.a. gravel) for the walkways, mostly to weight the fabric down keeping it in place while the project continued.  You will notice the flags that mark each concrete cap block and the location of the propagation benches. Photograph taken by Danielle Keeter.

Once Danielle and Justin finished putting down a layer of landscape fabric, they hauled in rocks (a.k.a. gravel) for the walkways, mostly to hold the landscape fabric in place until another load of gravel could be delivered. You will notice the flags that mark each concrete cap block and the location of the propagation benches. Photograph taken by Danielle Keeter.

This photograph is taken by Danielle Keeter.  This is after rocks have been spread in the walkways.

This photograph is taken by Danielle Keeter. This is after rocks have been spread in the walkways.

Once the landscape fabric was secured, Justin and Danielle re-constructed our greenhouse propagation benches.  Our old benches used to be in 24 foot sections, but our new benches are in 12 foot sections.  We added additional bracing to accommodate expanded metal bench tops.  Photograph taken by Danielle Keeter.

Once the landscape fabric was secured, Justin and Danielle re-constructed our greenhouse propagation benches. Our old benches used to be in 24 foot sections, but our new benches are in 12 foot sections. We added additional bracing to accommodate expanded metal bench tops. Photograph taken by Danielle Keeter.

After Justin and Danielle completed building the greenhouse bench frames, they built frames for the bench tops; these frames will replace the wood frames.  Carl and Julie are hoping that they never build another greenhouse propagation bench in their lifetime.  Meanwhile, Carl and Julie spread additional rocks, just to give Danielle and Justin a break from this physically demanding job.

After Justin and Danielle completed building the greenhouse bench frames, they built frames for the bench tops; these frames will replace the wood frames. Carl and Julie are hoping that they never build another greenhouse propagation bench in their lifetime. Meanwhile, Carl and Julie spread additional rocks, just to give Danielle and Justin a break from this physically demanding job.

Just in the nick of time, our bench tops arrived from our greenhouse supplier, so Carl and Julie did the final squaring of each bench and screwed the tops to the bench frames. Danielle and Justin would have done this but they were busy seeding so that we will be eating some tasty food this season. HALLELUJAH FOR THIS PROJECT COMPLETION!  We HOPE and PRAY that there will be no more muck.

Just in the nick of time, our bench tops arrived from our greenhouse supplier, so Carl and Julie did the final squaring of each bench and screwed the tops to the bench frames. Danielle and Justin would have done this but they were busy seeding so that we will be eating some tasty food this season. HALLELUJAH FOR THIS PROJECT COMPLETION! We HOPE and PRAY that there will be no more muck.

Because Justin and Danielle pretty much did this entire project by themselves, Danielle had the well deserved honor of placing the first couple flats on our NEW propagation benches!

Because Justin and Danielle pretty much did this entire project by themselves, Danielle had the well deserved honor of placing the first couple flats on our NEW propagation benches!

Just what a project such as this might do to you!

Just what a project such as this might do to you!

Harmon thinks we need yoga after this project.  He is trying to lead us into downward dog!

Harmon thinks we need yoga after this project. He is trying to lead us into downward dog!

Harmon thinks we need to stretch the other direction.

Harmon thinks we need to stretch the other direction.

Our Propagation Greenhouse Rocks!  So clean, nice and PLEASANT that we have marked this project

Our Propagation Greenhouse Rocks! So clean, nice and PLEASANT that we have marked this project "Complete" on our task list. Mostly, we hope not to have yuck on the floor and for our benches to last Carl and Julie’s lifetime. Not many farm projects are ever REALLY complete because one is constantly maintaining and tweaking. For sanity, we must give a project a completion status or we would never feel like we have made accomplishments.

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