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West Plains, Mo 2017
Patrice Gros, Foundation Farm
4 Season Crop Planning & Mgt. under Tunnels
4 Season Crop Planning & Management
FF BY THE NUMBERS
• 30,000 square feet at work (2/3 acre)
• 2017 sales target: $105,00...
4 Season Crop Planning & Management
OBJECTIVE
• To produce a never-ending supply of food, while the weather goes wild
from...
4 Season Crop Planning & Management
OBJECTIVE
• To produce a never-ending supply of food, while the weather goes wild
from...
Crop Management under Tunnels
FARM PHILOSOPHY: ORGANIC NO-TILL
• Optimal microbial life: undisturbed and enriched soil is ...
SOIL & FERTILITY
• Same management as for outdoor: full organic/no-till treatment
• Straw mulch applied generously through...
SOIL & FERTILITY
• Soil test was done following 8 years of year-round production, including
winter.
• Organic matter conte...
TOOLS
• Cold high tunnels
Crop Management under Tunnels
150 by 24 by 10100 by 30 by 15
100 by 17 by 8
Crop Management under Tunnels
BED LAYOUT
• Beds in same direction as tunnel. The 17 feet across the smaller tunnels are di...
Crop Management under Tunnels
BED PREP
• Beds are cleared of mulch and of summer plants (mostly tomatoes). Mulch
is pushed...
Winter Crop Management
TEMPERATURE
• Combination Tunnel + Row Cover(s) good to zero degree
• Ventilation needed again over...
Winter Crop Management
PESTS/DISEASES
• Usual suspects in winter are white flies and aphids. Treat with insecticidal
soap ...
Winter Crop Management
WEEDS
• Mulch is used on many crops (bokchoi, large greens) to reduce weed pressure. Mulch
does not...
Winter Crop Management
WATER
• Drip tape (2 per bed). Sub-freezing
temperatures can break valves and
pipes, so the irrigat...
Summer Crop Management
TEMPERATURE
Beds can easily overheat in summer. Cooling is provided in many ways:
• Cross ventilati...
Summer Crop Management
PESTS/DISEASES
• Usual suspects on summer tomatoes are tomato and horn worms; both treated with
BT ...
Summer Crop Management
WEEDS
• Beds are progressively readied for summer with full-on mulch and opened up to
receive tomat...
Summer Crop Management
WATER
Drip tape (2 per bed) is used to reproduce the effect of long rain storms
through all night i...
My gardening/farming books are available
for $10 each or $25 for all 3!!!
OVERALL PLANNING STRATEGY
• Develop a crop plan that maximizes yield and profit while enhancing soil health
• Use tunnels ...
WINTER PLANNING STRATEGY
• Keep same no-till system as for outdoors for instant transition
• Use cold high tunnels for hig...
Winter Crop Planning
TEMPERATURE
• Tunnels provide a 1-month calendar shift
so December becomes November, and
January beco...
Winter Crop Planning
CROP MARKETABILITY
• Stars: carrot, spinach, kale, lettuce, baby mix
• Supporting cast: arugula, cila...
Winter Crop Planning
BEST WINTER CROPS FOR NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (ZONE 6A)
direct seeded
vs. transplant
mulch? market
potenti...
Winter Crop Planning
CROP PROFITABILITY
• Measure your sales/square foot/month for each crop
Winter Crop Planning
ROTATIONS
• Hard to implement and possibly not needed
at this point
PLANTING DENSITY
• A direct resul...
Winter Crop Planning
Winter Crop Planning
THE 2-WAVE SYSTEM
1st Wave: September-January
• Progressive replacement of summer plants (tomatoes, p...
Winter Crop PlanningTHE 2-WAVE SYSTEM
2nd Wave: December-March
• Progressively replacing the harvested beds from the first...
Winter Crop Planning
dates sow trays transplant direct seed harvest
08-01 to
08-30
lettuce, bok-choi,
leek, scallion, beet...
Summer Crop Planning
CROP CHOICE
• Tunnels provide a perfect environment for tomatoes to thrive.
• Tomatoes are 80% of our...
Summer Crop Planning
TEMPERATURE
• Tunnels provide a shift of at least one
climate zone allowing hot crops like
peppers an...
Summer Crop Planning
MARKETABILITY
• Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are in demand but can be over-supplied.
• Using sever...
Summer Crop Planning
FERTILITY
• Summer fertility is optimal
as soil biology is reaching its
peak. Just sit back and watch...
My gardening/farming books are available
for $10 each or $25 for all 3!!!
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17 production under tunnels

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American Small Farm Conference 2017

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17 production under tunnels

  1. 1. West Plains, Mo 2017 Patrice Gros, Foundation Farm 4 Season Crop Planning & Mgt. under Tunnels
  2. 2. 4 Season Crop Planning & Management FF BY THE NUMBERS • 30,000 square feet at work (2/3 acre) • 2017 sales target: $105,000 from over 25 crop types • 5 high tunnels: 3 (100X17), 1 (100X30), 1 (150X24) representing 40% of the farmed farmed surface • 3 weekly farmers’ markets, ONF Coop (Fayetteville), 3 to 5 restaurants • 2 to 4 trainees, Wwoofers, hourly workers, volunteers totaling 50 field hours/week on average
  3. 3. 4 Season Crop Planning & Management OBJECTIVE • To produce a never-ending supply of food, while the weather goes wild from 100 degree summer days to 0 degree winter nights. This market table on January 31st 2013 had kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, mustard, bok-choi, collards, parsley, cilantro, turnip, and carrot.
  4. 4. 4 Season Crop Planning & Management OBJECTIVE • To produce a never-ending supply of food, while the weather goes wild from 100 degree summer days to 0 degree winter nights.
  5. 5. Crop Management under Tunnels FARM PHILOSOPHY: ORGANIC NO-TILL • Optimal microbial life: undisturbed and enriched soil is home to a complex micro- biological life . Biologically glued aggregates form soil structure and texture. Tilling destroys soil’s natural texture, structure and micro-biome. • Optimal water and air content: soil in its un-tilled, natural state optimizes water and air availability to plants and micro-organisms. Tilling cuts moisture and air capacity in half leading to heavier irrigation and repeated tilling. • Optimal nutrient availability: undisturbed soil structure and biology optimizes nutrient accumulation/release. Plants can produce “exudates” which attract desirable micro-organisms. Root systems can be vastly extended by fungal networks. Tilling disrupts beneficial plant-biology connection; leads to more fertilizing (organic or conventional).
  6. 6. SOIL & FERTILITY • Same management as for outdoor: full organic/no-till treatment • Straw mulch applied generously throughout the year • Rabbit manure with a typical yearly application rate of 25#/100 square feet. • Plant residues…NO EXTRANEOUS COMPOSTING! • Grass clippings from the paths. • Feather meal prior to a nitrogen-hungry crop like spinach (2#/100sq. feet) Crop Management under Tunnels
  7. 7. SOIL & FERTILITY • Soil test was done following 8 years of year-round production, including winter. • Organic matter content = 8.6% Crop Management under Tunnels
  8. 8. TOOLS • Cold high tunnels Crop Management under Tunnels 150 by 24 by 10100 by 30 by 15 100 by 17 by 8
  9. 9. Crop Management under Tunnels BED LAYOUT • Beds in same direction as tunnel. The 17 feet across the smaller tunnels are divided this way: 1 foot trench, 3 foot bed, 2.5 foot path, 4 foot bed, 2.5 foot path, 3 foot bed, 1 foot trench. • Ratio bed surface over total surface is 1,000/1,700 = 60% • 1 foot wide trenches along both sides of my low tunnels, mulched year round for extra drainage and cold protection
  10. 10. Crop Management under Tunnels BED PREP • Beds are cleared of mulch and of summer plants (mostly tomatoes). Mulch is pushed out to the tunnel sides or moved to outdoor beds. • Beds are raked and sowed/planted
  11. 11. Winter Crop Management TEMPERATURE • Combination Tunnel + Row Cover(s) good to zero degree • Ventilation needed again overheating (open end)
  12. 12. Winter Crop Management PESTS/DISEASES • Usual suspects in winter are white flies and aphids. Treat with insecticidal soap and/or oil (Safer Soap) • Diseases are limited to occasional blights (lettuce, kale). Not managed • No-till soil is generally capable of keeping soil imbalances and nutrient depletions at bay.
  13. 13. Winter Crop Management WEEDS • Mulch is used on many crops (bokchoi, large greens) to reduce weed pressure. Mulch does not interfere with plant growth (geothermal effect). • Here is a picture showing fescue and chickweed in a bed of lettuce about to be harvested. Once all lettuces harvested, the weeds will be hoed before a second wave sowing or can also be mulched over.
  14. 14. Winter Crop Management WATER • Drip tape (2 per bed). Sub-freezing temperatures can break valves and pipes, so the irrigation lines are drained regularly in winter. • Watering is rare in December and January, maybe every other week; more if it is unusually sunny and warm. • Often moisture will be made available in the soil though extensive periods, following heavy rains or snows.
  15. 15. Summer Crop Management TEMPERATURE Beds can easily overheat in summer. Cooling is provided in many ways: • Cross ventilation: plastic is rolled up on sides and off-wind end is always open. • Mulch !!! • Shading cloth: rarely needed; 50% shading fabric can be used.
  16. 16. Summer Crop Management PESTS/DISEASES • Usual suspects on summer tomatoes are tomato and horn worms; both treated with BT (Dipel) with one or 2 weekly sprays. • Occasional blister beetles are sprayed with Piganic (Morgan Seed Co), a pyrethrum contact spray. • Main issue with tomato (blight) is almost entirely controlled by the tunnels shielding plants from rain.
  17. 17. Summer Crop Management WEEDS • Beds are progressively readied for summer with full-on mulch and opened up to receive tomato transplants starting in mid-May. • 100% control through use of heavy mulch during entire summer
  18. 18. Summer Crop Management WATER Drip tape (2 per bed) is used to reproduce the effect of long rain storms through all night irrigation rounds once a week. Use crack-resistant varieties.
  19. 19. My gardening/farming books are available for $10 each or $25 for all 3!!!
  20. 20. OVERALL PLANNING STRATEGY • Develop a crop plan that maximizes yield and profit while enhancing soil health • Use tunnels for higher yields and income throughout the year, not just in winter. • Plan 2 seasons: summer (5-10) and winter (10-5) • Crop Planning under Tunnels
  21. 21. WINTER PLANNING STRATEGY • Keep same no-till system as for outdoors for instant transition • Use cold high tunnels for higher yields and low capital/operational cost Winter Crop Planning
  22. 22. Winter Crop Planning TEMPERATURE • Tunnels provide a 1-month calendar shift so December becomes November, and January becomes February. In effect, December and January “do not happen”. • Tunnels eliminate the risk of crop total freeze and death. CROP SURVIVABILITY (HARDINESS) • Learn various crops’ abilities to face fierce cold weather. Your climate zone will greatly affect this. Foundation Farm is in Zone 6A. • Certain crop sub-types or varieties will outperform their siblings in harsh weather. • Position crops within the tunnels according to their relative hardiness (hardiest in outside beds, as in kale in side picture)
  23. 23. Winter Crop Planning CROP MARKETABILITY • Stars: carrot, spinach, kale, lettuce, baby mix • Supporting cast: arugula, cilantro, turnip, scallions, chard • Extras: collard, mustard Specific market outlets can affect the list. CROP “GROW-ABILITY” • My winter list of “problem-crops”: spinach, carrots, and cauliflower. Reasons include poor germination, questionable hardiness, sensitivity to insects, diseases and weeds, and more. • My winter list of dream (easy, marketable) crops: lettuce, cilantro, arugula, bok-choi and kale.
  24. 24. Winter Crop Planning BEST WINTER CROPS FOR NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (ZONE 6A) direct seeded vs. transplant mulch? market potential multiple harvest? cold hardiness notable varieties bokchoi ds/t yes ** yes/no ** black summer win-win cabbage t yes *** ** copenhagen farao arugula ds ** yes ** arugula baby greens ds *** yes ** no mixed seeds lettuce t *** ** magenta, panisse mustard t yes * yes ** green giant, red giant kale t yes *** yes ** siberian, reflex chard t yes ** yes ** bright light collard t yes * yes *** spinach ds *** yes *** tyee, space parsley t yes ** yes ** cilantro t *** ** santo mache ds ** *** japanese turnip ds yes ** ** Tokyo market purple top turnip ds yes * *** carrot ds yes *** ** yaya radish/daikon ds ** ** cherry belle onion, leek ds/t yes ** **
  25. 25. Winter Crop Planning CROP PROFITABILITY • Measure your sales/square foot/month for each crop
  26. 26. Winter Crop Planning ROTATIONS • Hard to implement and possibly not needed at this point PLANTING DENSITY • A direct result of fertility, and light access • Experimenting now with denser plantings • Up to 5 lines of lettuce on a 4 foot bed • Up to 7 lines of cilantro on 4 foot bed PLANT POSITIONING • Factors: hardiness, shape and size • Position in the tunnel • Position in the bed
  27. 27. Winter Crop Planning
  28. 28. Winter Crop Planning THE 2-WAVE SYSTEM 1st Wave: September-January • Progressive replacement of summer plants (tomatoes, peppers) • Critical time to gain maximum growth before cooling off • Most beds are seeded or planted by December 1st. • December-January: slowest growth, production is from mature plants. Mature lettuce ready for harvest in late November Lettuce replacement of tomatoes in September
  29. 29. Winter Crop PlanningTHE 2-WAVE SYSTEM 2nd Wave: December-March • Progressively replacing the harvested beds from the first wave with new crops (see planning table), which will have until May 15th when tomatoes reclaim their space... • Transplanting is not recommended in the coldest Jan-Feb period. Seeding of the hardiest crops can be pursued (spinach, radish, kale..) 2nd wave baby greens seeded in January 1st wave lettuce in November
  30. 30. Winter Crop Planning dates sow trays transplant direct seed harvest 08-01 to 08-30 lettuce, bok-choi, leek, scallion, beet carrot, beet, turnip, bok-choi, arugula summer crops 9-01 to 9-15 bok-choi, lettuce, chard, kale, mustard, collard, parsley, cilantro, leek, scallion lettuce arugula, baby greens, turnip, radish, bok-choi summer crops 9-15 to 9-30 lettuce, bok-choi, leek, scallion, beet summer crops, turnip, bok-choi, arugula 10-01 to 10-15 bok-choi, lettuce, spinach lettuce, bok-choi arugula, baby greens, carrot, turnip, radish summer crops, lettuce, bok-choi, arugula, scallion, beet, baby greens 10-15 to 10-30 chard, kale, mustard, collard parsley, cilantro, leek, scallion spinach lettuce, bok-choi, scallion, beet, carrot, baby greens 11-01 to 11-15 spinach lettuce, bok-choi arugula, baby mix, carrot, turnip, radish, mache lettuce, bok-choi, scallion, beet, carrot, baby greens 11-15 to 01-30 spinach spinach spinach, lettuce, bok-choi, big greens, parsley, cilantro, arugula, baby greens, leek, scallion, carrot, turnip, radish 01-01 to 02-15 spinach arugula, baby greens, radish, turnip, bok-choi, mache spinach, big greens, parsley, cilantro, arugula, baby greens 02-15 to 04-15 spinach, arugula, baby greens, radish, turnip, bok-choi Work inside tunnel 1st wave sowing/planting 2nd wave sowing
  31. 31. Summer Crop Planning CROP CHOICE • Tunnels provide a perfect environment for tomatoes to thrive. • Tomatoes are 80% of our summer tunnel crops: others are eggplant, pepper, cucumber, celery, and ginger/turmeric. 3.7 500 spi col col par cel cel cuc cel cuc cel cel cel 3.8 650 tur tur tur pep pep pep pep pep 3.9 650 let let pep pep pep pep pep 3.10 500 pea rad pea rad pea egg cuc egg cuc egg 5.1 300 kal cil gin gin gin gin gin gin 5.2 400 cel che che che che che che 5.3 400 cel che che che che che che 5.4 400 che che che che che che 5.5 300 let cil bok tom tom tom tom tom tom 5.6 400 okr okr okr okr okr okr 5.7 300 kal kal kal cel cel cel cel cel cel cel cel 5.8 400 cha cha cha cha tom tom tom tom tom tom 5.9 300 cha cha cha cha rom rom rom rom rom rom 5.10 300 kal kal kal tum tum tum tum tum tum 5.11 400 let let let tom tom tom tom tom tom 5.12 300 spi spi spi spi tom tom tom tom tom tom 5.13 300 kal kal tom tom tom tom tom tom 5.14 400 car car car car car tom tom tom tom tom tom 5.15 300 let let let tom tom tom tom tom tom Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
  32. 32. Summer Crop Planning TEMPERATURE • Tunnels provide a shift of at least one climate zone allowing hot crops like peppers and eggplants to thrive. • Tunnels extend season on hot crops by up to one month on each side of the season because of freeze protection. CROP SURVIVABILITY • Tomatoes are extremely sensitive to rain- induced blight in our humid summers. Tunnels are the perfect solution. Blight free yields can be tripled. • Other issue is overheating (nights over 80) which can stop blooms. Shade cloth can be added atop the tunnels.
  33. 33. Summer Crop Planning MARKETABILITY • Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are in demand but can be over-supplied. • Using several varieties, including cherry tomatoes, and heirlooms can help. GROWER-ABILITY • Issue is early start for plants which might be struggling in the cool, un-tilled soil (peppers, eggplants) • A mid-April to mid-May transplanting is recommended and compatible with the end of all the winter crops.
  34. 34. Summer Crop Planning FERTILITY • Summer fertility is optimal as soil biology is reaching its peak. Just sit back and watch TOMATO DENSITY • Tomatoes: 1 line, 2.5 feet apart in the row (3 to 4 foot wide) • Peppers/eggplants: 2 lines, 2.5 feet apart in the row TOMATO POSITIONING: CAGING VS. TRELLISING • Determinate tomatoes/peppers/eggplants on outside beds and caged in “half cages” (4 foot tall). • Indeterminate tomatoes/peppers/egplants set in the middle beds and trellised WEED FABRIC • Peppers/eggplants planted on black fabric for maximum heat
  35. 35. My gardening/farming books are available for $10 each or $25 for all 3!!!

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