Early Yields from the High Tunnel

       As you may know, we were fortunate to erect a high tunnel last summer, and we are now experimenting with it. 

         A high tunnel is an unheated greenhouse, where crops are grown directly in the ground.  The purpose of the structure is to provide longer windows of production and harvest both earlier in spring and also late into the fall, as well as provide increasedyields over field grown crops during the summer months. 

      When the HT was completed last summer, I was eager to try out a couple different fall crops and to see how much would over-winter successfully.  I planted some greens like spinach, mustard, mizuna, endive and cress.  I planted a bed of salad mix, and a couple plots of head lettuce.  I also sowed beets, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini and cukes.  I planted the all same things outside, for comparison.  Everything came up and started growing nicely.  The greens and salad mix, including beet greens all were ready for harvest thru the last December market.  The  broccoli, cabbage and carrots all stopped growing after a point and are waiting at about the size of a large transplant.  The cukes and zucchini did not make it through the winter, of course, but I was curious to see how far they’d go if we’d happened to have a late fall last year.

      The lettuces and greens mostly held over the winter in limbo, nice heads with leaves, but frozen most of the time, so cutting them would have destroyed them.  The rising sun did allow them to spring back to life in early March,and we were able to harvest and sell greens and lettuce once again for the first market in March.  This past week we were able to offer for sale a nice braising mix of mustard, spinach and mizuna, a spicy salad mix, and fresh spinach.  Such a nice change from the meaty, startchy fare of winter.

       We have planted more lettuce, radishes, and arugula in the HT, as well as some strawberry plants.  The beets and carrots continue to reawaken, and the cabages and broccoli have begun to grow again.  We plant to plant more of these, and some zucchini again to see how early we can get it in the spring.  The tunnel is warm and sunny this time of year, and welcome chance to get out into those rays and work some muscles once again.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Joe Leonard
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 18:13:09

    That is awesome. Heating a greenhouse is a good way to go broke.


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