[Snakeroot Organic Farm logo]
 • What's New Here
 • Snakeroot Poultry

 • About Our Farm
 • Annual Farm Tour
 • Community Supported
    Agriculture Plan (CSA)
Directions to our Farm
 • From a Run Out Hayfield to
    a Prosperous Organic Farm
    in Ten Easy Years

 • Get Real. Get Organic!
 • History of Our Farm
 • Pictures of the Farm
 • Where We Buy
 • Where We Sell
 • Our Yearly Work Schedule
 • Just Pretty
 • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
 • Newsletter Archive.
 • What We Will & Won't Ship

 • Working Here
 • Our Apprentices
 • Our Farm Workers
 • Pictures of Us at Market

 • Fresh Vegetables
 • Fresh Fruit
 • Fresh Herbs
 • Perennials
 • Aloe - a magical plant
 • Our Bird Houses
 • Lupines
 • Rosemary Plants
 • Lovage, Tansy & Yarrow
 • Our Product Brochures
 • Dried Vegetables
 • Dried Culinary Herbs
 • Maple Syrup
 • Maple Syrup, p.2
 • Sugarin' Is Like Ice Fishin'
 • Our New Sugarhouse
 • Tomato Seedlings
 • Tomato Seeds We Offer
 • Tomato Seed Production
 • Paste Tomatoes
 • About Garlic
 • Garlic for Sale
 • Garlic Year Round
 • Mulching Garlic
 • Growing Rounds from Bulbils
 • Whole Bulbil Cluster Method
 • Planting Garlic

 • Using Mulches
 • Combatting Quackgrass
    with Mulch

 • We Want Your Leaves!
 • In Praise of Chips

 • Buying in Bulk for
    Storage, Canning & Freezing

 • Winter Storage Tips
 • How to Freeze Our Veggies
 • Building Techniques
 • Our Outbuildings
 • Evolution of the Farm Table
 • The Story of Our Cooler
 • Prepping Veggies for Market
 • Crop Rotations
 • Drip Irrigation
 • Low Pressure Water
 • Planting with Spreadsheets
 • Greenhouse Vegetable

 • Let-tuce Begin
 • Recipe Favorites
 • Our "Remay Roller"
 • Gardening Class Notes
 • Your Most Expensive Crop

 • Being Green
 • Digging Potatoes by Hand
 • Farmers' Markets in 2012
 • History of Pittsfield
 • Hybrids or Open Pollinated?
 • Making Websites
 • Open Source Software

    Our Retirement Plan
 • How Should a Farmer Retire?
 • Impediments to the want-to-be     farmer
 • Reducing the Value
    of the Land

 • Who Will Farm Here When
    We're Gone?

 • Apprentice Terms and Stages
 • From Apprentices to Partners
 • Transferring Farm Ownership

…and now for something completely different…

At dawn
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
    on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
    on the lake side.


The constant swish-swish of skis
    On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
    On a day long drive.


My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
And thinks
Nothing of it.


Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.


Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
A toad!


Delicate puffs
of marshmallow snow
carefully perched
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.

Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.


Picking Up and Storing
Floating Row Covers
with our home-made "Remay Roller"

by Tom Roberts, Dec-08
Click on photos to enlarge.
Unfortunately we didn't take all the photos we wanted in 2008,
so tune in next summer for the missing photos below.

Floating Row Covers are Great.
We use floating row covers for insect protection and frost protection on beet greens, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spicy greens, cucumbers, and Chinese cabbage. As a result, we deploy about three or four thousand feet of it each year, and use it for a year or three until it just wears out from exposure to sunlight and abrasion. It is 86 inches wide and most of it is cut into 250 to 275 foot lengths which is the length of many of our fields. We use "Agribon" brand, but everyone I know calls it "Remay", after the original brand that was introduced in the 1980's.

But There was One Problem.
Ball of
Remay -- photo coming summer '09 For years one of the least fun jobs at the farm was rolling up the floating row covers once they were no longer being used for a crop. Mostly, we folded it in half along its length then knelt down and began rolling it up, crawling along as we went. When we were done, we had a large ball of row cover that we could wrap our arms around and clumsily hoist into a garden cart.

When we wanted to re-use this "ball of Remay", it had to be awkwardly rolled out along the row to be covered in reverse procedure to the rolling up process.

Our Solution.
Crank and Pipe Holders. Then about two winters ago, as we sat around the table one night after supper, we began to discuss what would be the best way to pick up the row covers from the field. That fall, Coco had used a cardboard roll set on a garden cart to slowly roll the row cover onto. That led us to refine that model using standard 10 foot sections of 1½ inch PVC pipe instead of cardboard as a roller core and the rear-mounted tool bar on the tractor as a working station.

Jack made a pipe holder from two pieces of eighteen inch long 2x8, each with a 2 inch square hole cut so they would fit snugly one onto each end of the 2 inch square tool bar. Each of these end pieces also had a two and a half inch deep, two inch wide notch in the top to set the pipe into. A bit of grease in these assures a smoother rolling pipe.

Crank and Pipe Holders. For a crank to rotate the pipe, we used two PVC elbows separated by a 12 inch long piece of PVC pipe, with an eight inch piece at one end for the crank handle. The friction fit of the lower elbow onto the rolling pipe is just right to allow using the winding handle to rotate the pipe. The smoothness of the PVC allows the rolling person's hand to slide around the handle, so it is not necessary to improvise a rotating handle. Everything in the handle is just pushed together, using no bonding agent between the pieces. This works because there is so little force involved when winding the row covers onto the pipe. Wrapping a bit of duct tape around the handle where it fits into the crank made for a tighter fit at this point where it is exercised the most.

Picking up the Row Covers.
Picking Up Remay -- photo coming summer '09. First we walk the row to remove all of the pins ("floating row cover staples") that are used to keep the row cover in place. Meanwhile the tractor, with toolbar, pipe holders and an empty pipe, has been backed up to the end of the row, and the crank inserted onto the empty pipe. To pick up our remay, we use three people. One person slowly turns the crank while the other two pick up the row cover and start it rolling onto the pipe. Once it catches and begins to pull up the row cover, the cranker speeds up and one person on each side pulls the remay from off the row while keeping the remay taught so it doesn't bunch up as it rolls onto the pipe. The third person keeps cranking at a steady pace, and the row cover rolls onto the pipe at a brisk walking pace. The row cover is best rolled up when fairly dry and on a day that isn't too breezy.

Loaded Tractor. Once the roll is full (a 275 foot piece of row cover makes a roll about 15 inches in diameter), the crank is pulled off the pipe, and the roll is lifted out of the pipe holders and brought to the front of the tractor where it is stacked on the bucket arms. The tractor is then re-positionsed to roll up the next row cover. Our tractor can easily hold six to eight rolls this way before having to unload. Once the pins are pulled, rolling up a row cover takes about five minutes and results in a neat, easily transported package. For shorter lengths of row cover, one after another can be fed onto the same roll, but if you have both long lengths and short lengths, remember to label your pipes as to which is which.

An Added Benefit.
Unrolling Remay #3. Unrolling Remay #2. This year we discovered to our delight that using this system also makes un-rolling of the row covers onto the next crop even easier than using brand new row covers. After anchoring the loose end of the row cover at one end of the row, two people, one on each end of the pipe, can walk down the row at a brisk pace as the row cover unrolls from the pipe as they go. Since the PVC pipe is so smooth, if loosely held it simply spins in their hands as they walk, so there is no need to rotate the pipe while walking. Unrolling Remay #1. As often as needed—usually about every 75 feet—they stop to pin down the row cover so that the wind won't blow it off. Once they are at the end of the row, if there is still a little of the roll left, it can be set on the ground to await re-rolling once that crop no longer needs the row cover.
In the lower photo, Jarrett is on the left and he is using this system for the first time. In his right hand are a fistfull of remay staples. Coco is on the right and she is primarily repsonsible for inventing this system.
Storing the Row Covers for the Winter.
The rolls of row covers take up considerable space, and altho one person can move them about easily enough, there is a tendency to leave them outdoors or in a pile on the floor of a shed. This not only attracts rodents to this lovely and warm chewable world, but makes that area unusable for anything else. After a year of using the remay roller, we decided that there was a need for a custom-made place to store the pipes of remay.

Remay Shed In late November, Tom built a 7' x 14' shed from spruce poles cut from the woods. The roof and two sides covered with 15 mil black pool-covering plastic that a recycler dropped off at our farm. In the shed are four racks consisting of two sets of four seven foot long poles running from the back to the front. The racks are eight feet apart, allowing the rolls of looseley rolled 7 foot wide rmay to easily fit between them. The ten foot pipes extend 20 inches past the remay on each side, and it is the pipes which sit on the racks. One or two people can store the Remay rolls by walking into the shed holding the Remay-on-a-pipe, putting one side of the pipe and then the other onto the racks, then sliding the roll to the back. The shed can easily accomodate thirty rolls of Remay.

The shed was made extra wide to also accomodate wire hoops for slitted row covers, as these too needed a place to live during the off-season.

27 Organic Farm Road, Pittsfield Maine 04967
owned and operated by
Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe
Tom: Tom@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5417
Lois: Lois@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5418

Gardening for the public since 1995.

top of page File name: RemayRoller.shtml
Version: Friday 01 January, 2010
Creative Commons License This website is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.