Extending the Growing Season

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Kansas Community Garden Conference
July 8, 2014
Dr. Cary Rivard

This presentation explores the options available to community gardens who chose to use high tunnels as a means of extending the season for their produce.

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Extending the Growing Season

  1. 1. ` Season Extension Techniques for Growing Veggies Cary L. Rivard, Ph.D. Dept of Horticulture Kansas State University
  2. 2. Outline Season Extension Techniques for KS • Considerations for SE • Some SE practices • Warm-Season Crops • Cool-Season Crops
  3. 3. Winter WinterSpring Summer Fall Warm-Season Crops Growth/Productivity The Inevitable CRASH Season Extension 101
  4. 4. What is Season Extension Winter WinterSpring Summer Fall Warm-Season Crops Growth/Productivity Early Growth
  5. 5. Winter WinterSpring Summer Fall Warm-Season Crops Growth/Productivity Cukes, Beans, Squash, Sweet Corn Successive Cropping Season Extension 101
  6. 6. Winter WinterSpring Summer Fall Warm-Season Crops Growth/Productivity Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Carrots, Melons (?) Successive Cropping Season Extension 101
  7. 7. Season Extension 101 Summer SummerFall Winter Spring Growth/Productivity Winter Dormancy Cool-Season Crops
  8. 8. Season Extension 101 Summer SummerFall Winter Spring Growth/Productivity Winter Production Cool-Season Crops
  9. 9. Season Extension 101 Summer SummerFall Winter Spring Cool-Season Crops Growth/Productivity Crop Establishment
  10. 10. Summer SummerFall Winter Spring Cool-Season Crops Growth/Productivity Summer Production Season Extension 101
  11. 11. “Average” Freeze Date: Kansas City 50% April 13 40% April 16 30% April 19 20% April 22 10% April 26 5% May 1 Spring/Fall Frosts 30 days of season extension is SUPER
  12. 12. • Cool season crops - seeds don’t germinate, roots don’t develop. Plants wait until it warms up. 45o F • Warm season crops - seeds may rot or roots may not function. Plants may die or not develop. 55o F. A metal ‘probe’ thermometer- sold in automotive sections (to test air conditioning temperatures Soil Temperature Soil temperatures HIGHLY affect plant growth
  13. 13. Getting Transplants/Seeds You may want to consider growing transplants • Seeds – Garden Centers – Seed Potatoes • Seeds store well in the freezer • Harden off your plants – Cold frame – Wind, UV light • Cultivars for SE
  14. 14. Outline Season Extension Techniques for KS • Considerations for SE • Some SE practices • Warm-Season Crops • Cool-Season Crops
  15. 15. • Making raised beds helps warms the soil and adds to overall crop health. • Soil drainage, aeration • Adjust irrigation accordingly Raised Beds Season Extension Practices
  16. 16. • Mulching is a valuable practice that is often overlooked. – Conserve soil moisture – Control weeds – Increase / reduce soil temperature – Disease management • Organic Mulches – Leaves, straw, compost, wood chips, pine straw • Plastic Mulches – Colored mulches – Reflective mulches Mulches Season Extension Practices
  17. 17. Warm in the Spring
  18. 18. Cool in Summer
  19. 19. Container Gardening
  20. 20. Season Extension Practices Crop and Cultivar Selection • All crops have a predicted number of “days to maturity” • Varieties tolerant of cool / hot conditions – “Heat-set” tomatoes – Bolt-resistant lettuce, etc. • Use “early” and “late” cultivars • Use transplants
  21. 21. • Sequential planting is an excellent way to ensure a continuous harvest. • Quick, cool-season crops – Lettuce and other greens • Quick, warm-season crops – Sweet corn – Beans – Cucumbers – Squash Maximizing Yield with Successive Plantings Season Extension Practices
  22. 22. Maximizing Yield with Successive Plantings Season Extension Practices
  23. 23. September 10, 2011 (planted August 1)
  24. 24. Garden Site Selection Various factors can affect potential for season extension • Aspect / slope orientation – North-facing may warm slowly – South/west-facing can lead to drought or excessive heat • Windbreaks • Possible shading (trees) – Perennial crops Season Extension Practices
  25. 25. • Floating row covers are spun-bonded polyester that protects fragile crops from frost / freezing. • Various thicknesses • Does not get too hot • Protects from insects • Use wire hoops to support • Can be used in combination with high / low tunnels Floating Row Covers Season Extension Practices
  26. 26. Season Extension Practices
  27. 27. # 9 Wire
  28. 28. Low Tunnels • Hoop-supported row covers made from poly film – Cannot walk underneath • Bent wire, PVC, conduit • Spaced 4-10 ft apart • Vented poly film • Anchor firmly in the soil – Sand bags, bricks, etc. Season Extension Practices
  29. 29. • Unheated poly-covered greenhouses • Crops typically grown in the soil • Three or Four-Season • Homemade high tunnels – hightunnels.org • May become more popular • Typical crops – Tomato – Lettuce – Cucumber – Melon High Tunnels Season Extension Practices
  30. 30. Tunnels = Early Planting and Early GROWTH • Fruit set before heat • Plant is established – Root system – Foliage – fruit shading • Planting Preference – Scheduling – Varieties – Transplant quality Season Extension Practices
  31. 31. High Tunnels CAN be cooler than the field • Ventilation • Plastic type – UV/IR blocking • Shade cloth – 30% is recommended – Timing – Structural ?? Season Extension Practices
  32. 32. • Manage/Ventilate sidewalls – Summer Crops – close when nights are <55oF – Winter Crops – Varies with crop/climate – Automated sidewall curtains Hand crank for sidewalls Note: metal brackets to hold sidewall
  33. 33. Home-made Moveable High Tunnels
  34. 34. Summer Greens Production • 39% shade • Sprinkler irrigation Season Extension Practices
  35. 35. Season Extension Practices Caterpillar Tunnels
  36. 36. Season Extension Practices
  37. 37. Summary Season Extension Techniques for KS • Plan in advance. Design your garden with SE in mind. • Air temperature is important. Soil temperature is REALLY important. • Utilize varieties that do well with SE techniques • Be prepared to chase a large piece of plastic or fabric. • Have fun!
  38. 38. QUESTIONS ??

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