Thursday, December 1, 2016

Slow Food Citrus Project and More Market Changes

We WILL be at Schlafly this Saturday!

Market List;
Cherry Tomatoes, some Slicing tomatoes.
Missouri Pecans
SuperFood Salad Mix- 2 mustards, chickweed, kale, mache', 4 lettuces, beet, spinach, chard and sorrel.  
Non GMO Free Range Eggs

It's time to start thinking about Christmas and Hanukah gifts. Those - "I don't know what to bring to the office party" for  Secret Santa presents or Pot Lucks.
We have a lot of unique ideas for these situations. Garlicky Chili Sauce and Pickled Hot Peppers for those who you love who like it hot. Cherry Serrano Pepper Jelly and Smoked Tomatillo Salsa for that party dish sensation that will also slip right into a stocking-I would leave it in the jar for that purpose though. In any case, stop by for some suggestions.

Last weekend was slated for our Citrus Slow Food Project. The gist of the project was to use radiant heat cables to warm the soil enough to raise the temperature in the High Tunnel to make it possible to produce Citrus.

In the Long run, we intend to make this entirely Solar but now for now we are using a combination of electricity, water and passive solar.

First we marked off the spot and scraped off any weeds.

The area to be dug was 8X4X3. This doesn't sound like a lot until you start digging. The first foot deep was easy as we used a tiller to loosen the dirt so it would be easier to lift out. After the first foot it was pure Missouri Clay. Which makes sense because as many of you know, our lake comes from a Clay mine that was opened in 1948. This was enough for the first day. We were all sore from the digging anyway.

On Saturday, we laid in a large piece of Blue Board Styrofoam and on top of that, hardware cloth or as it is sometimes known, "rabbit wire" and then the soil heating cables.

Our original idea called for "water boxes" lined with pool liner but instead we used sealed barrels filled with water. You can see one of the barrels on the corner of the picture. The cables heat the water in the barrels and then the cables will shut off after it reaches a certain temperature under the soil. The purpose of the water in the barrel is to conserve and slowly release the heat after the cables shut off. This keeps the heat from running all the time and maintains an even temperature for a longer time period. In the photo on the right, you see Tek Foil; which basically is bubble insulation made with aluminum foil on one side. It's made to reflect and contain heat.
After the barrels were filled with water and placed in the hole, the Tek Foil was folded over to make the heat radiate in the pit. Now here, we might have made an error that perhaps could be a bit more efficient if we had put the Tek Foil under the entire project and around the sides. Still...

After we buried the water tanks and filled the pit, we began planting the Citrus trees over and around the site, and yes I was involved in all of this, but someone had to take the pictures.  

As you may remember, we received the trees on March 31st. I ordered 5 Meyer Lemons and a Dancy Tangerine. I already had a Satsuma orange and a Lime Kumquat that I kept in the house. I had this idea about Radiant heat flooring in the soil and then I read about a couple of other projects being done that were very similar. When I started reading up on how to install it, I found soil heating cables being sold in Greenhouse catalogs for less cost, that's what we went with. Except for digging the hole it was pretty easy.
Really the whole thing took about 7 hours. We turned the cables on and waited. At first it didn't seem like it was doing anything. Yesterday, on the 4rth day, it seemed as if the soil was warmer but I wasn't completely sure. I need to get a new soil thermometer to gauge difference between the soil over the pit and in other sections of the high tunnel.
The trees didn't even shock from transplanting into the cool soil, after 5 days, they still look like this;

Thus far we only have had 7 Lemons but this was with the trees still in the pots over the summer and pot bound. They bloomed 5x and are still in bloom now.
This morning when we went out to the Greenhouse about 8, the air temp was 60 degrees. In case you didn't know last nights overnight temp was 32 and yesterday the high was 43.
So it's early days yet but it 'seems promising. If you look in the pics, you can see my tomato plants in the background.

We'll see you at Schlafly on Saturday.
For all of you who posted and emailed in support. Not sure if it was what turned the tide but I know a lot of you responded. Thanks so much.

God's blessings on you and yours,


Sam and Bill


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