Flint, Michigan area urban agriculture report - April 25, 2014
Spring weather has arrived, retreated, then returned in the past few weeks yet the indoor growing season is well underway in urban and rural hoop-houses.
April 25, 2014 - Author: Terry McLean, Michigan State University Extension
Spring weather has arrived, retreated, then returned in the past few weeks yet the indoor growing season is well underway in urban and rural hoop-houses. Hoop-houses are inexpensive, passive solar structures designed to extend the growing season for both warm and cool season crops and permit winter harvesting of cold-tolerant vegetables.
According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint, Michigan, temperatures for the past month ranged from a 22 degree Fahrenheit low to a 79 F high with snow occurring last week (week of April 14). We are at 86.9 GDD base 50 (Growing Degree Days), and after the record setting winter and the slow start to spring, our season is running a week or so behind normal.
Winter/cool-season crops (beets, carrots, kohlrabi, kale, radish, salad mix, scallions, spinach, etc.) that were planted in area hoop-houses in late February & March were delayed a bit this year by the extreme weather, but much of that leafy produce is now being harvested for sale in area year-round farmer’s markets. One grower reports that crops such as carrots, beets and peas growing in the hoop-house are intended for their first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pickup at the end of May.
According to research done at the MSU Hoop-houses at the Student Organic Farm, summer crops should start going into hoop-houses in mid-April, so many of the cool season crops that are being harvested now will be replaced shortly. Growers are hardening off tomatoes (grafted heirlooms and regular hybrids), peppers, basil and kale to plant in their hoop-houses next week. Some growers are planting tomatoes now.
According to one area grower, flea beetles are starting to show up in the hoop-house. Out in the field, planted peas and onion sets are just beginning to germinate/show themselves. Flats of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, chard, raab, collards, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens have been started for field planting. One grower is ‘chitting’ (pre-sprouting in warm temps prior to planting; also called ‘greensprouting’) their seed potatoes for planting in the field in the next few weeks. This technique can reduce time from planting to harvest by 10 to 14 days.
Going to market now
According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, growers are harvesting cilantro, salad mix, kale, radish, scallions and spinach this week out of area urban hoop-houses.