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Un-Raising the Roof

Posted: June 6, 2011

20 Beginning farmers learned how to remove greenhouse plastic and many other details of Teena Bailey's passive solar set-up at Red Cat Farm. Wendy Gloffke, Penn State Extension Master Gardener, shares some of the day's highlights in this blog from the Mcall.com.
After removing the roof of the greenhouse, one group of apprentices worked on assembling a hose trolley while discussing tomato grafting with farmer, Teena Bailey, at Red Cat Farm in Germansville.

After removing the roof of the greenhouse, one group of apprentices worked on assembling a hose trolley while discussing tomato grafting with farmer, Teena Bailey, at Red Cat Farm in Germansville.

Wendy Gloffke, Master Gardener, Penn State Extension

This article was originally published on The Morning Call's Lehigh Valley Master Gardeners' Blog.

It was a wonderful day for tearing down a roof.  After being under cover for 5 years, the beds in the passive solar greenhouse at Red Cat Farm had accumulated salt and they needed to be rained on to leach it out.

A group of enthusiastic apprentice farmers (and wannabes) gathered to bring down the roof and to learn by doing. Teena Bailey, the energetic and innovative mistress of Red Cat Farm instructed the group on how and where to slice the plastic so that the lower portion of the greenhouse remained covered. After removing the wiggle wire (yes, you "wiggle" it side-to-side to remove it) that held the plastic in place, and slicing the entire covering along the side purloins, the crew stood about 5 feet apart along the side and rolled the pulled in unison as the cover slid easily off the structure. The whole thing took less than 20 mins.

Once the roof was off, the crew (well, mostly the guys) set about attaching a cable and pulley system that will allow Teena to irrigate without pulling hoses over the plants.

Teena also discussed the sustainable, chemical free methods of growing, and season extension tactics she uses that allow her to produce greens and herb from April through November. In addition to the passive solar greenhouse, we got to see the battery storage pit, a manure-based hot bed set-up in another greenhouse, the packing room with CoolBot equipped walk-in cooler (featuring Teena's "spin" on drying greens) and a demonstration of how to create grow tubes. Teena is experimenting with growing grafted tomatoes (another blog topic!) in HDPE grow tubes.

Alison Grantham from Penn State provided a package of useful handouts from the Start Farming program. The Start Farming website has a wealth of resources for anyone considering farming...take a look at their site: http://extension.psu.edu/start-farming.