Mmm. Sundried tomatoes. Concentrated yumminess that tasted so good in our pasta salad. We grew ‘em, harvested ‘em, froze ‘em and a year later, ate ‘em. In between, we watered them and then, via drying, de-watered them.
It seems a little silly to take water out of something you put water into, but if you don’t get the water into them when they need it, you won’t have anything to take water out of later. If you put a greenhouse roof over tomatoes, you better get the water into them that the roof is keeping out.
I got water into them one warm morning in early July. After a lengthy and jumbled episode of sweatily hoisting hoses, and painstakingly pouring pails of water, I resolved that a little water automation would go a long way to reducing Erin’s workload. And mine.
The question was: how to automate? I already collected water off of the greenhouse roof. While it was enough to use on a few potted plants periodically, they barely survived the unpredictability of the precipitation. And a greenhouse is just a big pot topped with a moisture exclusion membrane. Continue reading “Godzilla Zukes versus Tiny Tomatoes”
“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.
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.
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.
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.