Irrigation Irritation

Zucchini and tomatoes grow in a hoop house
Prickly zucchini leaves are located too close to the water line header.

Written by Peter

Picking up the irrigation equipment order was a journey full of holes. Early in the day, I lost precious time trying to locate a local irrigation salesman who’s business has yet to embrace modern standards of advertising, especially when it comes to LOCATION. From the third parking lot deep in Old Order Mennonite Country, at least I finally found him on the phone.

He drawled, “Aww–you’ve come all that way, and now you’re actually pretty close to us. I’d like to meet you, but I have a family reunion and I have to leave now or be late.”

Ironically, that made two of us. I zoomed away towards the store where my order waited, passing many places I’d loved to have stopped if the time thief hadn’t stolen my savings. I arrived at the store with just enough time. It was a good thing the order was pre-packed, because it was expensive and took many lines of typing to put into the computer.

An elderly salesman gathered my order, and added a few new items I’d chosen. Sheepishly, he then informed me, “Uh oh–I think I just accidentally deleted the order.”

Not funny. I tried to think sympathetic thoughts, while he re-entered the entire order, line by line, with the speed of someone who’s first language did not require typing. Upon purchase, I whisked the boxes to the car and ignored the first rule of parcel pick-up: check your order. Upon returning home many hours and hundreds of kilometers later, I realized he’d accidentally double-billed me on one item. That would prove to be easy to remedy; at least I had everything I ordered.

Everything except the irrigation kit! During the initial phone order, I’d included numerous non-essential items and add-ons to customize the kit to our needs. But I never added the actual kit order number. So there was no kit inside the boxes I picked up.

Nevertheless outside, temperatures were climbing, plants were drooping, and watering by hand was still the only lifeblood of the tomatoes. Continue reading “Irrigation Irritation”

Hoop (house) Dreams

An interior view of the plastic on the hoop house
An interior view of the plastic on the hoop house

Guest post by Peter

“It’ll take twice as long, and be twice as expensive.”

This is a frequently heard adage when you reveal a dream to build any structure bigger than a chicken coop. And the last chicken coop we built proves that such adages can overestimate a builder’s skillset and underestimate their budget. Having built five structures with footprints ranging from 70 to 2070 square feet, we should’ve known better.

Many hours were spent getting the arches and bases assembled
Many hours from March to May were spent getting the arches and bases assembled

But we didn’t. By buying a kit for a greenhouse made by someone else, we assumed that the building process would be more like raising a tent than raising a barn. The truth lies somewhere in between. I spent days drilling over 1000 holes in wood and metal. I spent some sleep-deprived nights dreaming up solutions to seemingly intractable problems that apparently few people in the greenhouse world had pondered before. And I spent all my spare time from March to May constructing framing and preparing for the Big Day. The Big Day would be the day when we would sheathe the greenhouse in a protective skin of plastic.

I assumed that because I had spent so much money and time and brainpower to that point, all we needed was a hired hand, our family, and a calm day to slip the gigantic pieces of cling-wrap over the metal frame. We waited for the right day. We assembled the family and hired our friend Mark. We called our friend’s the DeJongs just in case, because they had shown interest in helping out.

Getting the plastic over the arches required fastening a golfball to one edge and throwing it over the top. It took several tries...
Getting the plastic over the arches required fastening a golfball to one edge and throwing it over the top. It took several tries…

I thought we might be done by noon. When Brian and his daughters showed up late in the morning, we were far from done. When Brian’s wife Anita showed up in the afternoon, we were far from done. But the wind was picking up, tempting our huge plastic pieces to channel their inner kite-ness. Despite my planning and our hard work, without the DeJong’s, the plastic still might not be on the greenhouse.

Putting the plastic on the hoop house was a huge undertaking.
Putting the plastic on the hoop house was a huge undertaking.

Everyone had a job, but only one person was paid. Friends like me sometimes cost other people money. Others like the DeJong’s are priceless.