Jeremy spent the fall and winter building a new high tunnel and solar heating system for the greenhouse. This will enable us to expand our indoor production greatly. We are both very excited about having 3 times the greenhouse space as last season. What that translates to is more early spring produce (greens, radishes, and scallions) and more tomatoes in the summer.
Last Fall we received a grant from the State of VT to build a solar heated germination chamber in one of the high tunnel greenhouses as a research project. We are researching the feasibility of using solar hot water for supplemental heating in the greenhouse. The idea is to heat a very small portion of the greenhouse rather than heating the entire volume of the building. While we have not artificially heated our high tunnels until now, we feel that this system fits with our philosophy in that we are still only using the sun and water to grow plants (no fossil fuels). What we did was create a radiant floor heating system in a raised bed and then covered that with a cloth cover (row cover). So far the system has been able to keep the soil in the bed between 50F-55F and the air temperature 3F warmer than the rest of the greenhouse. The next test is to set the soil to 70F and see if we can keep the air temp 20F above ambient.
Finally, the most exciting news is Caitlin's winter growing project... a baby! We have a new addition to Gildrien Farm arriving soon. The due date is March 13th, which can mean any day now. Much of our winter was spent preparing for the baby and now we are waiting for the baby to arrive.