The Seed Starting Greenhouse Is Officially Turned On

Last Sunday we officially turned on the seed starting greenhouse. As the farm is still blanketed in a thick layer of snow, we had to trust our gut, our planning and the long-range forecast to flip that switch. With the goal of transplanting crops into beds in early-April, now’s the time to get everything started even if the greenhouse is buried in snow!

Seed Starting Greenhouse Buried in Snow
It's hard to believe with all this snow that it's time to get the seed starting greenhouse up and running. But, when you live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, this is what spring looks like!

Jon got me situated making soil blocks before he started double checking all the systems were functioning as intended. While he fiddled with the programmable thermostats, I dug my hands into the task. Honestly, it felt like being a kid again making mud-pies, or perhaps more aptly, making cute little mud cupcakes with dimples perfect for placing seeds.

Prepping for soil blocking
Jacob wasn't afraid to dive right in and get his hands dirty.

Perhaps part of the reason it felt like being a kid again is that we had a few kids helping us out. Our neighbor Gabe -- who played a major role in constructing the greenhouse by cutting the timber from our land, milling the boards, and framing the structure -- stopped over with his kids Natalie and Jacob. We put the extra hands to good use in getting the 800 soil blocks ready for planting early in the week.

In addition to helping with the soil blocks, Natalie and Jacob (and their cousin Matthew who joined us later) helped prep a few soaking bins for microgreens. Give a kid a drill, and it’s bound to be a happy day of play!

After the first week of seeding, these are the crops we’ve got growing in the greenhouse:

  • Salanova lettuce

  • 2 varieties of spinach (Corvair and Acadia)

  • 3 varieties of onions (Ailsa Craig, Yellow Cippolini and Red Geneva)

  • 2 varieties of beets (Early Wonder Tall Top & Subeto)

  • 3 varieties of microgreens (Fava bean, green pea, and black sunflower shoots)

If that list doesn’t look like early success, then the success is that we still had time for some fun and other farm chores. While the work days are bound to get longer, we’re basking in this initial honeymoon phase where we don’t yet have to be laser focused to get everything accomplished in a day.

Cross-country skiing with dogs
Cross-country skiing on this bluebird day with the pups reminded us to appreciate where we live. Michigan's Upper Peninsula sure is pretty.

On Saturday we took the dogs out for what might be the last long, cross-country ski of the season. While we’re eagerly cheering the snow melt for farming reasons, we’re making sure to enjoy the last of its splendor while it’s here. And, if that ski does turn out to be the last of the season, it’d certainly end on a high note. A few inches of fresh powder topped the hard snowpack, making for a quick ski on a sunny, bluebird day.

Apple Carrot Muffins
These hearty, apple carrot muffins help you get your fruits and veggies first thing in the morning.

Then, this morning I baked apple carrot muffins for breakfast, which turned out to be a hearty and delicious treat to fuel a little bit of work on the firewood pile. We had 10 cords of wood delivered mid-February when we weren’t sure we’d make it through the winter with our initial stockpile. We’re pretty optimistic we’ll make it now on that original supply, so we can chip away at the towering pile of 8-foot logs bit by bit. When it’s all said and done, it should last us for the next two years.

What we’re not so sure how long will last is the propane in the tank for the greenhouse. We’re checking the levels daily, and the steady decline makes us think we’ll need to schedule another delivery in a few weeks. Who knows, maybe we’re underestimating how far the propane will last like we did with the firewood, but with all those seeds already in the greenhouse, we’re not going to push our luck!

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