High tunnels provide fresh, local vegetables in northern climes

Squash grown in high tunnels can be provided fresh to local markets well beyond the normal growing season. (Photo Credit: Vicki Morrone)

WASHINGTON — Fresh vegetables taste great, and they are healthy, too. But, in the dead of winter, they can be impossible to find in colder states, at least locally. The December 7th Sustainable, Secure Food blog explores “high tunnels” and how the help farmers extend their growing season.

According to blogger Vicki Morrone, high tunnels are “simple structures made from PVC pipes and heavy-duty plastic. They are an economical way that allows farmers to grow food for nine or ten months of the year. While it’s freezing outside, some very tasty vegetables including spinach, kale and carrots grow inside high tunnels.” Morrone is an agronomist with Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University.

“The tunnels do not need heaters or lights,” says Morrone. But, watering and fertilization can present some problems. “Farmers often apply manure, compost and chemical fertilizers to provide nitrogen and phosphorus, the most important nutrients needed for plants to grow. Adding fertilizer or manure not only feeds the plants, but also adds salt to the soil. These salts from fertilizer take various forms, like calcium phosphate. This salinity is an unfortunate side-effect of fertilization that needs to be managed.”

To learn more about how farmers manage salinity in high tunnels, read the entire blog: https://sustainable-secure-food-blog.com/2019/12/07/how-do-high-tunnels-extend-the-growing-season

This blog is sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. Our members are researchers and trained, certified professionals in the areas of growing our world’s food supply, while protecting our environment. They work at universities, government research facilities, and private businesses across the United States and the world.

–American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America

For more articles concerning high tunnels, click here.