Flint, Michigan area urban agriculture report – October 24, 2014
Fall is here and we have recorded several killing frosts to date.
Fall is here and we have recorded several killing frosts to date. Growers in urban and semi-rural small-scale diversified vegetable farm fields are continuing to harvest frost tolerant vegetables outdoors, while using season extension practices such as low tunnels and hoop-houses to plant and grow their fall and winter crops.
According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint, Michigan, temperatures for the past month ranged from a 29.5 Fahrenheit low to a 70.3 F high. We are at 2675 GDD base 50 (Growing Degree Days), and the growing season has remained behind last year’s season. The rainfall total for the year is 27.04 inches, which is close to statistical average, yet the past two months have been drier than an average year for the months of September and October.
According to research done in the MSU Hoop-houses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, growers are trying to harvest outside as long as possible before harvesting from the young, fall planted hoop-house crops. This involves covering outdoor greens with floating row cover fabric to extend the season on cold nights. Row covers can also be used inside the hoop house on newly sprouted fall crops that need extra protection on freezing nights, with the added bonus of creating a barrier for pests. In area hoop-houses, planting of fall crops is wrapping up, with spinach and the last succession of radish, turnips, salad mix, romaine, Bok Choy, Napa cabbage, kale and scallions going in earlier in the month. Garlic has been field planted as well.
Resources available on the MSU Hoop-house website include general information, crop schedules, business planning information, transplant information and funding opportunities for hoop-house growers.
Going to area markets now
According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, area growers are harvesting kale, cress and spinach from their hoop-houses. From the field, salad mix, lettuce, arugula; Asian greens (Tatsoi, Vivid Choi, Komasuna); kale; beets and beet greens; cress; carrots; parsnips; sunchokes; parsley; celeriac; turnips (including Scarlet Ohno); French breakfast, white icicle, Nero Tondo and Daikon radishes; Brussels sprouts, winter squash and pumpkins are being harvested this month.
For helpful information on how to select, prepare, and preserve Michigan’s bounty of fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, ornamentals and meats, eggs, and fish, check out the MSU Extension Michigan Fresh program, with current fact sheets on over 40 produce crops, general food and ornamental gardening information, food preservation information, a seasonal harvest availability guide and a guide for donating fresh produce.