Flint, Mich., area urban agriculture report – October 16, 2013

Fall weather has arrived; retreated, then returned in the past month as the outdoor growing season ends.

Fall weather has arrived, retreated, then returned in the past month as the outdoor growing season ends. Fall and winter crops are progressing in urban hoop-houses, which 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 Mich., temperatures for the past month ranged from a 35 degree low to a 80 degree high F with frost occurring in areas. An excellent two-part article on frost and freezing in fall vegetable crops outdoors can be found here by MSUE Vegetable Educator Ben Phillips.

Crop Reports

Hoop House

Several fall crops have been planted in area urban hoop-houses for fall & winter harvest, guided by research done at the MSU Hoop-houses at the Student Organic Farm. As a general rule, the way to boost the economic return from a hoop-house investment is to keep its growing space well utilized by Intercropping and succession cropping. Excellent, practical information on business planning and revenue estimation is available on the site. Flint growers have planted the last successions of salad greens, Hakurei turnips and Asian greens for the fall. According to information from the hoop-house website, October 15 is the last day for seeding spinach & salad greens in the hoop-house in order to have a late fall harvest (in November and December). The reason behind specific planting deadlines for fall crops (when expecting fall harvest) is the dropping of sunlight levels, below the point where there is enough for optimal plant growth. By mid-December, plant growth slows down near a standstill and stays relatively dormant until light levels begin to increase again in February. Cool season crops that can be directly seeded in the hoop-house in February and March are beets, carrots, kohlrabi, radish, salad mix, scallions, spinach and Hakurei turnips for spring harvest. Summer crops start going into the hoop-house on April 15, so the winter planted crops need to be done by that time for spring harvest, thus completing the cycle.

Still going to market now

Co-op Stall

According to a Michigan State University Extension educator, harvest out-of-area urban hoop-houses, low tunnels and fields continues, with lots of peppers still - jalapeno, banana, cubanelle, bell (of various colors), Serrano and hot chilies of various varieties; eggplant; cherry tomatoes – sun gold are still being harvested; green and the remaining slicing tomatoes; moon and stars watermelons; collard & salad greens; Swiss chard; kale-curly and lacinato; green beans; spinach; basil; potatoes; sweet potatoes; Daikon (white) radishes; beets, Pak Choy (Chinese cabbage) and apples were brought to the urban growers’ co-operative stall at the Flint Farmer’s Market on Saturday, October 12.

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