1 The soil in this greenhouse is about two-feet deep. Wilmer tilled the top six to eight inches of compacted soil using a cultivator fork.
2 This tilling process removes unwanted roots that may be left over from last season, and breaks up the soil, so it is ready for mixing in necessary amendments, and for planting seeds.
3 Turning the soil takes some elbow grease, but it is an important process in preparing this cold house for a good growing season. In this greenhouse, I like to grow lettuce greens, root vegetables, bunching onions, and brassicas, plus other vegetables I use to make my delicious green juice.
4 Once the soil was turned, Ryan added Azomite. Azomite is a finely ground natural trace mineral powder made from clay mined from an ancient sea bed. It's used as a fertizlier and soil re-mineralizer.
5 The Azomite was sprinkled throughout the tilled soil, and then reworked.
6 Azomite has been found to contain more than 70-trace minerals, and is often used in organic farming.
7 Ryan also added used coffee grounds straight from the Martha Stewart Cafe at my New York City Starrett Lehigh Offices - nothing goes to waste. Used grounds provide generous amounts of phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and copper to the soil.
8 They also release nitrogen into the soil as they degrade. It will improve the soil structure over short term and long term.
9 Once the soil is completely tilled, Wilmer used a bow rake to thoroughly mix in the amendments. It's a heavy duty rake with shorter metal tines that are spaced widely to move and loosen the compost.
10 This rake is also great for leveling the dirt across the bed.
11 Wilmer used a lawn rake to tidy up the top layer of soil and give it a finished look.
12 Here is the finished bed - all ready for planting seeds.
13 On the back side of the greenhouse, we also set up large black tubs for planting tomatoes. I love having fresh, organic tomatoes all year long.
14 To prepare the buckets, Wilmer first filled them half way up with compost.
15 This organic compost is made right here on my farm.
16 Metro-Mix growing mix was added to each bucket. This is an all purpose well-drained mix for growing crops in containers. It contains composted bark, peanut hulls, peat moss and limestone.
17 A good amount is mixed in with the already nutrient rich composted soil - these tomato plants get the best growing medium!
18 Wilmer adds another layer of compost and then mixes the two thoroughly.
19 Finally, a sprinkling of used coffee grounds is added on top.
20 And now the tubs are ready for planting tomato seeds.
21 Of the thousands of tomato varieties available on the market, only a short list is acceptable for greenhouse production. These types are tolerant of reduced sun exposure that occurs inside a greenhouse. We got these seeds from one of our favorite sources, Johnny's Selected Seeds. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
22 'Big Beef' tomatoes are loved for their large, disease resistant fruit.
23 These 'Kakao' tomatoes are uniform, round fruits that average about four and a half ounces each. They have soft flesh and a savory flavor.
24 These 'Cobra' tomatoes are large, smooth fruits on vigorous vines. They resist cracking and some types of leaf spot.
25 'Marnero' tomatoes are a new variety with an heirloom-quality flavor. I can't wait to try them.
26 These 'New Girl' tomatoes will be some of the first to harvest. They are known for their great flavor.
27 'Margold' tomatoes have a classic flavor and appearance, with a light orange to red skin.
28 'Pozzano' tomatoes have a very San Marano like shape, and have a good flavor that improves with cooking - they also really love greenhouse growing.
29 These 'Estiva' tomatoes are smooth and firm with small stem scars.
30 'Granadero' plum tomatoes are very flavorful. They are thick-walled fruits, which are great for tomato sauces, salsas, and salads.
31 'Bolseno' tomatoes are great tasting fruits that are flat-round with light ribbing.
32 The seeds are very small. Ryan plants four seeds into each container.
33 He gently pushes each seed into the soil, giving ample and equal space between them.
34 Ryan makes sure each seed is buried under the soil. After they begin to grow, Ryan will assess the plants and remove the two weaker ones in each tub.
35 It will be wonderful to have fresh garden grown tomatoes all winter long.