October is a very important month here at my Bedford, New York farm. It’s when my gardeners and outdoor grounds crew are rushing to get all my warm weather container plants inside the greenhouses.
I have quite a large collection of citrus trees and other tropical specimens. Because I live in a four-season region, during colder months it’s vital these plants move indoors where the temperature and humidity levels can be controlled. Plants that spent the summer at Skylands, my home in Maine, are also brought back to Bedford for storage. Most of them are kept in one of two hoop houses designated specifically for these plants. It’s a tedious process to put all these container plants away, but a very important one that helps to keep my plants thriving.
Enjoy these photos.
Before storing, all the plants are brought to their designated greenhouse and placed outside, so each one can be inspected, and trimmed or repotted if necessary. Then, by size each one is carried into the structure where they will stay for about seven months.
This hoop house is located next to my Stable Barn and across the carriage road from my vegetable gardens. It is currently one of three hoop houses on the farm, but not for long. We’re constructing a new one nearby. I will share photos when it is all done.
This hoop house is 60-feet by 26-feet. Recently, we replaced the “skin” or the plastic that covers the entire structure. These “skins” usually last about four to five years.
The plastic is heavy-duty, woven polyethylene that features an anti-condensate additive to reduce moisture buildup and dripping. It is also covered with a layer that contains UV additives that allow the fabric to maintain its strength.
As soon as the hoop house is fully covered, my outdoor grounds crew begins our annual process of storing all the warm weather plants. This greenhouse works by heating and circulating air to create an artificial tropical environment.
Brian grooms one of many ferns, Nephrolepis obliterata – a large fern, which grows in rainforests upon rocks or in soil near lakes or streams native to northeastern Australia and New Guinea. It is considered one of the most beautiful among all ferns. It has large fronds and upright bushy and sword-shaped leaves.
Last year, we installed strong tables specially designed for greenhouse plants. We have these table lined on one side of the hoop house for smaller potted specimens.
On the other side, we use lumber and stumps milled and cut out of old felled trees here at the farm – I always try to reuse and repurpose materials whenever possible.
This is our Kubota M4-071 tractor. It’s designed to use auxiliary equipment such as the L1154 front loader that helps us transport so many things around the farm – potted plants, mulch, wood, etc. Here it is hauling the heavy plants to the hoop house. During the summer, I like to display large plants around the farm. Some of the pots weigh about 500-pounds each.
The container plants can then be wheeled in on a hand truck. Moises moves this very carefully, so the container is not damaged and the branches of the plant are not hurt along the way.
This project of moving the plants is a big undertaking and takes several days to complete.
The plants are all arranged with enough space in between them, so they don’t touch each other. These plants grow a little more each year, so the placement of these specimens will change every time they are stored.
This greenhouse is also equipped with three circulation fans.
There are also several thermostats. The heater is checked a couple times each day to make sure the temperature remains comfortably warm inside. Too cold, plants will freeze – too hot, plants will rot. This greenhouse is always kept above 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
Here is one of my bird’s nest ferns, Asplenium nidus, The bird’s nest fern is known for its tropical fronds that grow out of a central rosette.
This is a Bismarkia palm, Bismarckia nobilis, which grows from a solitary trunk, gray to tan in color, and slightly bulging at the base.
I keep a large group of sago palms, Cycas revoluta, in this enclosure. I have many of them in all different sizes. They are popular houseplants with pretty foliage, but keep them away from pets and young children, as they are also very toxic if ingested. Sago palms support a crown of shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk that is typically about seven to eight inches in diameter when mature, sometimes wider.
The foliage of philodendrons is usually green but may be coppery, red, or purplish with parallel leaf veins that are green or sometimes red or white. Shape, size, and texture of the leaves vary considerably, depending on species and maturity of the plant. I have many philodendrons that are growing so well here at Bedford.
Look at the fall colors above the hoop house. This week was peak fall foliage time for this area. Peak color is roughly between early October and early November.
The hoop house is pretty full – and in good time, the nights are getting much colder here in Westchester New York. A narrow aisle is kept clear around the entire hoop house, so plants can continue to be watered and checked.
The outside is insulated with bales of hay. I grow a lot of hay here at the farm. The good, dry bales for my horses are kept in the stable hayloft; the bales that my horses won’t eat are saved and used to help winterize the hoop houses and dahlias.
Each day, more and more plants are brought to the hoop houses for storing. We still have a lot more to put indoors, but I am glad we’re getting it all done quickly, neatly, and efficiently. These plants will go into my new hoop house very soon. What plant chores are you doing this weekend?