Greenhouse Rhythms

Farmer Voices

Greenhouse Rhythms

By Lauren Rudersdorf | Photos By Lauren Rudersdorf 0

It’s only been a year since we completed construction on our small, simple greenhouse, but if feels like we’ve had it forever. The greenhouse has quickly become as essential to our business as our little red delivery van or the cooler Kyle built himself five years ago. The rhythms we’ve discovered in this warm, nurturing space have easily become my favorite part of spring. (And there’s a heck of a lot to love about spring).

Day after day, we race to the farm after work hoping there will be enough daylight to finish our tasks. We step out of our truck onto beautiful snow-covered ground or a sloppy mess of mud, depending on the day of the week. We grab a couple of boxes of seeds and the spreadsheet that contains our planting calendar from the back. Usually I also have a thermos full of tea or coffee in hand.

We open the greenhouse door and the sensation is instantaneous. The air is different in here. It’s fresh. It’s earthy. It smells like life and soil. The tables of pallets stretch out in front of us: each day filled with a little more green and a little more excitement for all that lies ahead. The humidity envelopes our whole bodies. We tear off our coats and warm layers, throwing them on the chair by the door. The moisture soaks into our skin immediately.

I sit down at our seeding table and get myself situated. I glance at the spreadsheet and remove all the appropriate seeds from their boxes. I turn on a podcast. I grab a few plant tags and start labeling them with my sharpie. Meanwhile, Kyle has a whole different set of tasks. He’s already been out to the shed and back to grab a couple bags of soil. He’s laid out a tarp on one of the pallets free of plants. Empty seeding trays sit on the tarp and he quickly fills them with soil, moving back and forth with his own unique rhythm, pushing the soil gently into the cells.

The trays are stacked high between us on one of the few empty spaces on the greenhouse floor. Kyle moves to watering. I grab the first tray from the stack and make small impressions in the soil. Once the dimples have been made, I work fast but precisely, dropping one seed into each tiny square of soil. My hands work in tandem, down one row and up the next until all 200 cells have been sown. I feel relaxed in the rhythm. Seeded trays return to the tarp where Kyle covers them with soil, again with that firm tenderness only he can perfect. Finished trays move to heating mats for germination and are watered with a gentle stream from the watering can.

Then it begins again. Another seeding. Another tray of new life. We work through the plantings for the week until there’s no more space on our heating mats. Or until we run out of daylight, whichever comes first. By now my phone with the weak battery has died and the podcasts cease their chatter. As we tidy up for the night, the simple silence of rural life permeates our small greenhouse.

We watch the sun set over the horizon. Our spot on top of the hill makes it all the more dramatic. The greenhouse begins to cool quickly, no more sun to radiate its warmth. The heater kicks on and its low moan fills the silence. We step out of the greenhouse and close the door tight behind us, feeling the cool night air of spring blow from the north. We can feel the change in pressure from day to night. Our warm bodies begin to reacclimate to the correct season. It’s spring and not summer. It’s just the beginning. 

Lauren Rudersdorf Lauren Rudersdorf owns and operates Raleigh's Hillside Farm outside of Evansville, Wis., with her husband Kyle. Together, they manage four acres of leased family land, growing vegetables for a small CSA and area restaurants. They are currently filling their 2017 CSA. In her free time, Lauren loves to share stories about farming, life and food on her blog, The Leek & The Carrot.

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