[Market-farming] Hi Tunnel innovations

Ken Bezilla kenbez at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 18 14:21:56 EST 2016


I'll put in a quick word that a good use for high tunnels can be to grow seed crops -- one of our seed growers plants collards in the fall, harvests the leaves for market all fall/winter/early spring, then lets the plants alone once they start to flower.  So a nice dual use crop -- greens for most of the winter, and then seed production in late spring for 2-3 months when the hoophouse is heating up and space needs in there isn't as critical.  Brassicas such as collards like being able to dry down in a high tunnel -- the seed has really nice quality!

I think Pam Dawling's written about it in her Growing for Market columns, but a summer crop that be planted in high tunnels is cowpeas -- they handle heat really well, and will contribute a bit of nitrogen to the soil (though most of the nitrogen will go into the seeds).  (Nematode-resistant varieties are the best to do, after a while Pam started running into trouble with nematode buildup, so she did one of the USDA Charleston's nematode-resistant varieties, Carolina Crowder, this last summer, and said it did fine.)

(If anyone's ever interested in doing a high tunnel seed crop, feel free to drop me a line, we're always looking for more brassica growers and cowpea growers!  And probably any small seed company in your bioregion will be interested as well if you let them know.)

Ken Bezilla
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Mineral, VA
 		 	   		  
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