[Market-farming] May Produce

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Sun May 10 23:06:08 EDT 2015


Lisa and all,
Great queries and responses so here are a bunch of experiences and
thoughts, not as well organized as I'd like, so feel free to ask more.

Agreed that I want to be there with veggies when our market opens.
Challenge for us is that now we are year-round, every two weeks during
Jan-Mar and 2x weekly come mid-April.  Since it's just me and some of my
kids, we take our break in veggie production in June and July, by having
less when so many growers bring so much.  Then we ramp up again in late
summer and fall.  I much prefer picking greens in the HT in winter than in
the heat of summer inside or out.  But I've not used shade-cloth, perhaps a
worthwhile investment.

At our market, I was the only farmer with produce for sale last Tues, and
did well.  Customers remember who had the first salad items of the year...
You may want to trial overwintered greens in the field for May harvest,
instead of buying another HT just for this.  We overwinter kale, collards,
mustards, daikons and carrots in the field, with one layer med wt row
cover.  We were minus 23 F last winter but had 2 ft of snow.  More
challenging was minus 2 in Nov with no snow cover.  So don't think you need
a HT to overwinter greens.  We got into overwintered spinach on
recommendation from a VA extension researcher who had a history of doing so
in Indiana.

Gary, like your detailed info on winter and spring root crops.  We
transplanted beets this spring, first time in HT, and am very pleased with
how they are sizing up.  Will do this again.  We sell all overwintered,
field grown carrots and parsnips before they start to grow again.  The wide
row cover and occasional snows keep the ground from freezing, so we can dig
root crops between snows.

Lisa, we've decided to have a 'cool' high tunnel in the winter and spring,
and sell strawberries in May, LOTS of spinach and head lettuces, sugar snap
peas, many other greens mentioned by others.  We transplant most of the
greens in March and early Apr.

When we overwinter kale and most mustards in the HT, they bolt in Feb and
March when we have fewer customers. For us, well worth the time and money
to give the best compost and fertilizer for spinach.  Much bigger and
thicker leaves to harvest, and each leaf takes just a long to harvest
whether small and thin vs. big and thick.  My HT is only 1/4 spinach, will
do more next winter.

Spinach is the one item we never have enough of, even though we tripled our
planting last fall and winter, and get $8/lb.  Where our soil is
well-drained, spinach also performs well overwintered in the field with
med-wt row cover.  It can't uptake enough nitrogen in cold, sodden soil so
the leaves yellow before we can pick it.

Guess what I'm saying Lisa, is that you may be able to overwinter some
crops in the field for May instead of a HT, esp kale, depending on how long
and deep your snow cover is in winter.  Our soil under the row cover and
occasional snow does not freeze, esp., where we use 15-30 ft wide row
cover, so a larger area is protected instead of narrow beds with
unprotected paths between.  We reliably harvest lots of kale in spring
throughout May, which survives under a single layer on row cover with snow
on top.  Though we do plant the kale in mid-fall, with no fall harvest, as
we don't want the plants mature going into winter.  And we stay with lower
growing, frilly types such as Russian and Siberian, so they can support the
row cover directly.

Again, last two winters we've had many nights below minus 10 F, even though
we are officially Zone 6.  But we have days in the 40s in between.  We're
trying to keep producing when it's both colder and hotter than historical
averages, and spells of both wetter and drier.  All in the same 12-18
months.

Where you are (and Jay), low tunnels may work well for certain winter
crops.  But here in SW VA, we also have sunny days in the 50s and rarely
60s, where my overwintered greens get too warm in low tunnels, and bolt
before the bulk of customers come out of hiding in April.  Hence I only
protect with 1-2 layers med wt row cover in the field, directly on the
plants.

Lots of options, some of which should work for greens in May.

Richard Moyer
SW VA
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