Monday, August 22, 2011

The LowDown on the High Tunnel

Last spring we were awarded a matching grant for a high tunnel greenhouse through the NationalResources Conservation Service.  
Our original idea was to extend it from the south side of our barn, straddling the concrete silo foundation. We would put a pond liner in the foundation and raise fish (for eating) inside. The fertilized water would nourish our plants and the  mass of the pond would help hold the heat inside the greenhouse during the winter.
Well, this wacky plan is not an NRCS authorized use of the high tunnel, so instead we are siting it outside the foundation and will use it in the traditional hoophouse growing manner. Perhaps next year we will build an extension and pursue our aquaponics concept.
Nevertheless, we had to clean up a heckuva lot of wood from the  humongous silver maple that had been growing inside the foundation.

Plus, the ground slope s about a foot and a half in the 36-foot length of the high tunnel site.  Fortuitously, I stopped by a neighbors garage sale last week and noticed a cute little bobcat parked by the garage.  I inquired, and yes, John does bobcat work for people!  He came this weekend to level the ground for us. First, he nudged the tree trunk over the edge of the foundation, then attached a chain and pulled it out with his big pickup.
Then, he flattened and smoothed the 26 x 36 site for the  high tunnel.
He created a broad, gentle swale to direct the barn roof runoff around the greenhouse so we don't end up with a pond inside. This corner of the pasture was rife with burdock and thistle, so this will be a good opportunity to reseed with desirable pasture grasses. We will put an electric fence wire around the high tunnel so curious cows do not mess with it.
John spread the  small mountain of aged compost that used to be in this spot by the loafing shed over the site. Next week he will  come over with his tiller and till over the site to  break up and mix the old soil and new compost. It is pretty heavy and hard-packed  clay soil, so we will mix in some peat and sand.
While John was hard at work, the turkeys inspected his trailer.  John is a great guy.  He charged us less that it probably  would have cost to rent a bobcat. It has been so delightful how our farm projects have helped us meet our neighbors!  

Our high tunnel is now being manufactured and will arrive in 9 days. We are planning our second annual Labor Day Laboring Party to erect it. If you want to help set up the high tunnel (or remove buckthorn or paint barn windows...) and feast on wood-fired pizza afterward, you are invited! 

1 comment:

gz said...

a tunnel raising instead of a barn raising!
I hope the trailer passed its Inspection by Turkeys?!