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Trashing the Trash – Breezy Meadows Orchards & Nursery

Trashing the Trash

[singlepic id=242 w=320 h=240 float=right] Plastic is everywhere on the modern farm. We have two high tunnels and a greenhouse that are covered in plastic. The high tunnel plastic will stay on the tunnels for 5 or 6 years then will be used for winter protection on low tunnels for a few more years. The greenhouse plastic will last 15 years or so. We use reemay to protect the crops in the cold weather. It lasts a few years if taken care of correctly. Where we find the most waste of plastic is in seedling trays. They are fragile. They rip, crack, get smashed and when its cold they get even more delicate. Last year we started using soil blocks for many of our transplants. Soil blocks are compressed block of potting soil that we make with a special tool.[singlepic id=244 w=320 h=240 float=center]Last year we used a mix between the normal plastic transplant trays and the soil blocks, but the soil blocks still sat in the flat plastic trays. They tend to bend and break if you only have one so often times we doubled them up. The result was we were still using a lot of plastic and having many break and then we would have to give them the old heave hoe. I decided to build some wood trays to replace the flimsy plastic trays. The big question was to see how fast I could build them. I ended up buying a few bundles of 8′ strapping to start with.[singlepic id=246 w=320 h=240 float=left]I based the design of the trays on the layout in the New Organic grower. I went slightly larger then what he recommended. 9”x19”x2”. That ended up being four sections of the strapping cut at 20 or so inches, then two side walls at 9 inches and a back wall of 19”. I used screws for the first batch because I had some already, but I moved to nails to reduce the cost and speed up the process. I haved to pre-drill holes for the screws which added some time for each tray. I also don’t have a chop saw so making the cuts with a circular saw takes more time. I timed myself during the first batch and I could make a completed tray in 9 minutes. With labor cost included that means each tray comes out to around 4.50-5.00. With a few tweaks I will be able to get the cost a little bit lower to the 3.75-4 dollar range. They will always cost more than the plastic trays but the life expectancy of them should be much longer. And the ease of use will make us more efficient while seeding and transplanting.

I started our first seeds in the season using the blocks and the wooden trays out in the new heated greenhouse. They work really well so far. They stack nicely when they are full of blocks and when empty they can be stacked in pairs that are nested together. When loaded with blocks they are heavier then the plastic trays. I bough strapping from two different places and one group was significantly lighter then the other. The extra weight is the only downside I have seen so far. I’m sure we will have to tweak the trays as we build more and as I learn what is working and whats not.[singlepic id=248 w=320 h=240 float=center]

CSA Shares are still available follow the link to the CSA Page

March 3rd, 2013|

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2 Comments

  1. cynthia March 13, 2013 at 10:44 am - Reply

    …and the wooden trays are simply very nice to look at..ok an ephemeral poit…but really true

  2. cynthia March 13, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

    oops point

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