Friday, March 5, 2010

High Tunnels

  Last week was the annual Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention held at Brock University in St. Catharines. It's a big thing, with about 1200 people attending. Seven workshop sessions run concurrently throughout each of the 2 days on many topics, so there's lots to choose from. There is a trade show with around 150 exhibitors representing farm equipment & products, nurseries, farm organizations ... It's a great 2 days!
  One of the most useful sessions for me concerned high tunnels (or hoophouse or unheated greenhouses). Here's a picture of ours at Thiessen Farms.
  Speakers included 2 growers who both build & farm high tunnels in Ontario. An expert from the UK reported on what's happening across the pond, and 2 university guys from Michigan & New York reported on their high tunnel research - at the university and on their own farms. Much was learned and now I'm full of ideas on how to better utilize our high tunnel and how to deal with some of the challenges of tunnel growing that have been troubling me.
 Here's another shot of our tunnel in summer - guess I have no pictures of the inside!
Our hoophouse is generally used to grow and shelter all the potted herbs we sell at market in spring. Later I plant some other crops - last year it was my hot peppers & some cherry tomatoes for a late fall harvest. Right along the inside walls I often plant strawberries so we can enjoy sweet, ripe berries several weeks before the outside ones are ready.
  Here's the cool story of our high tunnel. Back in 2000 some friends organized a greenhouse raising for us. Enough guys showed up to build the structure in 1 day. Then they came back again to put on the plastic covering. Truly amazing - both the speed it went up, and our friends' generosity. It is appreciated to this day!

1 comment:

  1. I was trying to imagine the activity around your farm these days. It sounded like you were ready to start planting and looking forward to it for quite some time before you actually started! Gardening activity at our house is low this year, as our flower beds are still muck from an insulation project in the fall. However, we're tapping our maple tree!