Know Before You Grow
Adding weeks to either end of your growing season can mean attaining a premium for having products available well before (or long after) other local growers. But the structures that make this possible–unheated plastic-covered “high tunnels” or “hoop houses”--can cost a lot of money, and they bring special management considerations that need to be understood in order to be profitable additions to your farm.
All levels: You will get the most from this course if you already have some experience successfully growing vegetables outdoors and are exploring high tunnels as a way to expand the season or improve plant quality. Information will be focused on using high tunnels in colder climates (US Climate Zones
4-6), but can be adapted to other growing regions. Farmers with no outdoor production experience are also welcome to join.
By the end of this course growers will have the knowledge to do the following:
- Complete a basic site assessment and know when to bring in experts to discuss site limitations
- Make decisions to improve or maintain their soil health and fertility in the tunnel
- Select an appropriate high tunnel structure for your site, climate, and production needs
- Select and grow appropriate cold and/or warm season crops for the tunnel
- Employ pest control and trouble-shooting strategies for high tunnels
- Decide if high tunnels make economic, environmental, and social sense on the farm
The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in Teachable, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.
Amy Ivy recently retired from her role as part of the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program. She worked with gardeners and commercial vegetable and berry growers for Cornell Cooperative Extension for 31 years in northeastern NY, on the east side of the Adirondack Mountains and Champlain Valley. Her particular interests are season extension, protected culture including high tunnels, soil health and insects, both good and bad.