The Falmouth Agriculture Commission is hosting a series of talks with the theme “Adventures in Microfarming” in support of the commission’s initiative in microfarming. Nobska Farms will be presenting a talk on our chili pepper microfarm startup on April 17 at 6:30pm. The talk will be at the Falmouth Public Library. We’ll be discussing aspects of the business, implementation, and mission. There will be a good bit of time for questions and answers. We’ll also bring some of our chili products including Ghost Pepper Jelly, Ghost Chocolate, and Rooster’s Rocket Fuel™ hot sauce.
Come and join in the discussion. Look forward to seeing you there.
Posted in Chili peppers, Feed the World, microfarm | Tagged #chilipeppers, #FeedTheWorld, #greenhouse | Leave a Comment »
Seedlings in wave #1 and #2 for this year. Selection is focused on South American chilies plus a good amount of the superhots. Many varieties of aji, which are good for ceviche and other S.A. dishes.
Stared seeds in 50/50 mix of coir fiber and vermiculite. Neutral pH, good moisture retention, and open structure for easy root development. Trays are on heating pad with thermostat control set at 85°F. Use humidity dome while germinating, then removed when seedlings emerged. Watering is tricky. Want enough to keep the seedlings from drying out, but not so much as to encourage damping off (a fungus that grows in the surface of the soil and kills the seedlings). Seedlings are in the greenhouse with good ambient light during the day, but no hard, direct sunlight. Daytime temperatures are regulated to be 90°F max and nighttime temperatures above 60°F.
Chilies are slow to start and slow to grow. Be patient. Germination can take 30 days or more. Gotta have patience. Lots of it. Under the right conditions, you will get almost 100% germination rate.
Posted in Chili peppers, Greenhouse, microfarm, Uncategorized | Tagged #chilipeppers, #greenhouse, #seedlings | Leave a Comment »
Reorganized the greenhouse. Installed a ventilation system. Spring means we have to worry about the greenhouse getting too hot in the day and too cold at night. Shoulder season. Box fan will do the trick for bringing in cool daytime air. Thermostat switch will cycle the fan to keep the temps below 90F. Went up to 134F a couple days age. That was the signal to start worrying about too much heat. Have been trying to keep the greenhouse warm all winter, so this is a switch.
Brought seedlings out from their warm birth place in the furnace room. Set them out on tables on heating pads. Thermostat will keep soil temp at 85F. Chilies like warm temps for germination. Guess that sets the trend for their whole life.
Mulched the over wintered chilies with seaweed. They are starting to send up good shoots. May have chilies by June. July at the latest. Seedlings will be producing in August and September. Growing new South American varieties this year. Mix of interesting flavors, colors, shapes, and heat.
Spring’s a commin’!!
Posted in Chili peppers, Greenhouse, microfarm, weather | Tagged #chilipeppers, #greenhouse, #planting | Leave a Comment »
It blew. It snowed. It stopped. We survived.
Posted in Greenhouse, microfarm, weather | Tagged #greenhouse, #microfarm, #Nemo, #weather | Leave a Comment »
We’re in transition from startup to sustainability. This winter we have to tap into every resource to keep our greenhouse warm. With nighttime temps in single digits and daytime temps in the teens, passive solar just will not suffice with our current setup. Until we have a more energy efficient setup, we’re relying on propane. Have a regulator that automatically switched from an empty tank to a full one. This winter is our experiment and will also serve as a baseline. We know how much propane we have bought. This represents the total energy required for our setup. We will calculate the heating-degree day (e. g., BizEE Degree Days) and the determine the BTU/heating-degree-day. With this baseline we’ll know how much energy from any source is needed. Future sources will be passive solar in an unvented greenhouse, ground source thermal banking, or vented natural gas heaters. The research continues at Nobska Farms.
Posted in Farming, Greenhouse, research | Tagged #greenhouse, #microfarm | Leave a Comment »
Early morning sunrise. 18°F. Cold but beautiful. Greenhouse a cozy 48°. Just another day on the Farm.
Posted in Farming, Greenhouse, microfarm | Tagged #greenhouse, #microfarm | Leave a Comment »
Last week we had a really Bad day on the Farm. Pilot light went out on heater and temps went down way below freezing. If we didn’t loose our entire crop (situation still evolving), it was at least a severe setback. Killed all of the foliage but maybe not the roots and the core of the chili plants.
Why’d the pilot light go out? Not enough O2, of course. The greenhouse film is a near perfect vapor (and gas) seal to retain heat. Also excludes exterior oxygen. We’d carefully closed the greenhouse ends to keep the cold out. Also did a great job of keeping out the fresh air. The heater, a Redstone Dual Fuel 30K BTU heater, states that no vent is required in an unconfined space. Manual gives calculations to determine if the space is confined, in which case ventilation is required to pull in external air. For our greenhouse, the calculation shows that we could use a heater with up to 38K BTU and not require ventilation. But … this is a film greenhouse, virtually perfectly sealed from the exterior air … not a drafty or even reasonably well sealed home. The Oxygen Depletion Sensor on the heater detected a reduced O2 level and shut down the pilot light. Safety feature. No pilot light, no heat; no heat, freezing temps; freezing temps, dead (or at least severely damaged) chili plants!
So word to the wise. If you use an unvented heater, which is certainly convenient, do provide some external air and exhaust the interior air. Guidelines from Unvented Greenhouse Heaters suggest that 960 ft3/hr are needed for every 100K BTU/hr of heat. That means, for our 30K BTU/hr heater, we need fresh air at a rate of about 300 ft3/hr. The energy required to heat this additional fresh air to greenhouse temperatures is less than 1% of the energy output from the heater. For the moment, we have just opened gaps in the film ends of the greenhouse. Pilot light has stayed on and the greenhouse has stayed warm. Longer term, we may add vents with forced air that is controlled using thermocouples to detect when the heater comes on. Are also thinking of some type of heat recovery ventilator. These are commercially available, e.g., Broan Heat Recovery Ventilator, or DIY, e.g., Heat Exchanger.
What ever you do … make sure your greenhouse heater can breath. If not, the greenhouse won’t be warm for long, and you’ll be very unhappy with the result.
Here’s a YouTube video describing the ventilation system we installed. This system allows us to seal the greenhouse well, which prevents unintended cold air incursions, while keeping the O2 levels up. Right now the ventilator runs 24/7. Later we will add a thermocouple switch to turn the ventilator on only when the heater cycles on. This will further increase our energy efficiency.
Posted in Farming, Greenhouse, microfarm | Tagged #greenhouse, #heater, #microfarm | Leave a Comment »