Jslick greenhouse question?

Rio_GrandeJanuary 4, 2014

Wanted to check with you to see what temps your greenhouse is staying at in this cold? We didn't get ours done before winter.

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Good question, short answer not warm enough! The coldest I have seen it in our largest high tunnel, was 24.5 and the outside actual temperature was -2. This temperature was taken under two layers of row cover and a stiff north wind. Everything has been handling it pretty well. The hardest time was in early December when the lows were near zero and the sun never came out for about a week. This was the week we had the most damage.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 11:56PM
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Rio_Grande

Good to hear, we are going to build one this year for next winter. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 6:56AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

This morning we had a low of 5 and it was 25, now it is 6.5 and the temp is 38.4. I love it when the sun is out when it is cold. I probably will go out and pick some Kale for lunch.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:47AM
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cole_robbie(6)

It looks like the temp difference between inside and outside becomes greater in the coldest weather, because the warming power of the unfrozen earth is more significant.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 1:59PM
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randy41_1

it helps a lot to have inside row covers. it was 6 or so the other night. i had covered pretty much everything inside with at least one layer of row cover. some of the more delicate things like broccoli and cabbage were double covered with one of the covers being a heavyweight row cover. so far all have survived. i've had broccoli damage in previous years with just a single cover and temperatures not that low.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Rio_Grande

It is amazing to me that one can continue to grow without heat in the winter like this.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 2:02AM
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randy41_1

and you'll find that there's not many folks growing things in the winter and the market is wide open. people will kill for fresh local extremely sweet greens this time of year.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 5:22AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

We just had our first winter market of 2014 on Saturday. It was our best winter market this season.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:31AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Another pic

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:34AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Our lettuces

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:37AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Well it got really cold last night. We had -7 and the temp was 15.1 in the high tunnel, I bet we lost some stuff. I also noticed, as I looked out the window that one of my drop down doors ripped about 1 foot in and it was flapping in the breeze and letting cold air to enter. I did go out at 9 pm and patched it up the best I could. Tape wouldn't stick, so I found a piece of plywood and covered up the ripped sections and then screwed a board on the back to sandwich the plastic between the board and plywood. Not pretty, but it did work. That may have contributed to the lower than usual temps.

This post was edited by jrslick on Mon, Jan 6, 14 at 10:56

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:38AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Kale, chard, bok Choy, cilantro

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 11:01AM
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Rio_Grande

That looks great Jay!
We were -5 officially but our thermometer on the porch said -12. That's a big deal around here, we might see the teens once a year overnight, but our high today is 1 deg. This is nuts.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 1:28PM
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myfamilysfarm

We are at -14 air temp. Not going outside. I don't have anything planted, but I'm sure the cats are enjoying the hoop house. We were in blizzard conditions after the 11" of snow ended. Hoop house looks ok, but will not worry about it after it warms up some. We will not be getting out of driveway for at least 2 more days. All roads are closed and nobody is supposed to be on them.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 2:06PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Nice stuff Jay! We had a high of -15 today. Worst day ever! This whole winter has been abnormally cold here. Last year I picked outside on 12/6. This year I haven't even had a nice day to vacuum the vehicles.
Yes generally the cold days are the sunny days.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:16PM
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brgalyon

Jay how much does your lettuce weigh? Those bags look huge for the price. Also, what size bags are they and where do you get your supplies from?

I am looking for new places to order things. Your stuff looks great too.

Bobby

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:47AM
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randy41_1

it was -6 or -7 and windy here last night. it looks like everything is fine. the high temp today is about 10. it was 42 in the high tunnel. its very clear and sunny.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:50PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

They look bigger than they actually are. Due to the labor involved, this isn't baby lettuce. Each bag represents on loose leaf head. Sometimes it is two or even three if I don't thin them when I transplant. However, they all most always weigh the same even if there are 2 or 3 smaller heads.

During the winter the mini-heads weigh between .35 to .6 of a pound each. Sometimes during the spring and early summer, the romaines can get close to a pound each.

We transplant all our lettuces and sell whole heads only. This is all about labor and the added cost(time) of spinning, sorting and drying. We harvest the whole head, dunk in water and then shake it off and turn it so the stem is up and let it drip dry. Then we bag and put in the fridge/cooler. I timed the process long ago and I can cut, dunk and rinse, shake and bag a head of lettuce in about 1 minute. We usually let them sit out for 10-15 minutes to let any extra water run off. I try to let them sit in the bag, with the stem up and let them drain more in the cooler.

Yes the price is a little lower than mixed bags of baby lettuce, but my labor costs are way down.

Here are our lettuce not in the bags.

Beds of lettuce in Winter high tunnel

Here is some of our outside lettuce last spring, using the same method. These heads were much bigger than usual.

My bags are one gallon bags I pick up at a local grocery store. They cost about $26 to $33 per 1,000 and come in boxes of 75. The last time I looked at comparable bags, these were cheaper as I didn't have to pay shipping and buy large quantities. Now if the shipping was free, other bags were a little cheaper. They are about 8in by 12in, if I remember correctly.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 4:10PM
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brgalyon

Thanks. I get $4 for 5-6 ounces of loose lettuce. I have a pretty good system setup to wash and sort quickly, but it does add time. The kicker is I do not have to go back out and transplant so many and deal with that. I prefer the cut and come again over full heads. I guess the added time of washing makes up for not adding the time and hassle of seeding, watering, and then transplanting.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:24PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Our produce manager was talking about someone asking to buy a roll of the produce bags. They were quite expensive for the store to buy and thus pretty high for the person who wanted them. Anyway I was surprised because I assumed I could buy them pretty cheap there.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:43PM
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randy41_1

i get a roll of 1000 10x14 bags for $32 at restaurant depot. i go there for other stuff and save on shipping. i sell loose leaf lettuce for $10/lb. i put 1/4 lb in a bag.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Rio_Grande

We are going to concentrate heavily on greens sales in the spring. We have a knack for growing it quickly in the hydroponic system. We were selling the summer crisp heads for 2.50 at the end of the season. One head had a ton of lettuce in it. As mentioned our labor was almost nill. With the hydro I could easily pick 100 a week. Now if I can just sell that many!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:29AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I was out in the high tunnel today and most everything pulled through the -7 degree and -30 windchills last week pretty well. We have a late planting of lettuce for our February markets that looks just fine, it is amazing.

I am really liking the summer crisp/batvaria lettuce. We just chopped up 3 left over heads that I picked on Dec 31st and they were just fine. They have really good storage characteristics, heat and cold tolerance too. We were picking and selling 60-75 a week last year at $2.50 a head also. I am hoping this year we can get that up to 100 a week. Now to just figure out which varieties that customers most want.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 11:08PM
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