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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
HT mizuna

Fall and Winter High Tunnel Production

I know, it's been in the 90s everyday for the past who knows how long.  It seems like the heat of summer has no end in sight, but it does.  In fact, the total sunlight each day will only decrease until December 21st.  Not because that's the end of the Mayan Calendar (even though it is), but because that's Winter Solstice when we celebrate the return of the lengthening day.

If you are looking to eat some homegrown vegetables this fall and winter, or are looking to expand your marketing into the winter production niche, the time to begin is now!  Believe it or not, the average first frosts in our area are only about 10 weeks away.  Producing winter vegetables in high tunnels (hoophouses) requires banking sunlight for growth in early fall.  By mid-November there is barely enough quantity or intensity of light for plants to continue to grow.
Beets, cabbage, daikon, leeks, turnips, rutabaga,  and carrots are all crops that can be planted into high tunnels in the next few weeks for winter harvesting.  By the end of August kale and lettuces should be planted.  Asian greens and spinach grow more quickly and tolerate cooler germination temps, so mid-September is acceptable for planting them.
Direct seeding and transplanting can be used in high tunnels.  See my earlier post Transplant! for some thoughts on that.  In general, think about the maturity time of a given crop, add 14-28 days for the reduction in solar energy and plan your succession plantings in the high tunnel accordingly.
High tunnels combined with row cover inside can keep even more heat in and allow marginal crops to be grown though the winter.  Winter production can be an important and profitable niche for many small growers.  It keeps customers satisfied and in contact throughout the winter, as well as providing income (and even a price premium) during a time where most farms are spending rather than taking in money.
Interested in learning more about 4 season high tunnel production?  Extension Local Food System and Small Farm Educators Kyle Cecil (Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Warren Counties) and Chris Konieczka (that's me, Livingston, McLean, Woodford Counties) are hosting a webinar next Thursday August 9th accessible from a home internet connection.  We will discuss getting the most light into your tunnel, what to plant, when to plant it, and harvest strategies for winter.  Register and find out more here,

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This is the best method when we want to have homegrown vegetables. I just liked it very much.
by Lush Turf Solutions Lush Turf Solutions on Monday 10/29/2012