By Bonnie Dailey
Gardening season is upon us and the Delaware County Farmers’ Market is underway – summer is here! An amazing selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables are now available. Take a second though and imagine your own fresh lettuce and spinach in March or December. No, it’s not magic – it’s a high tunnel!
A seasonal high tunnel, commonly called a hoop house, is a simple, plastic-covered tubular steel structure which relies on the sun’s energy to warm the soil and air. High tunnels are passive solar structures designed to extend the growing season and intensify production of high value crops such as fruits and vegetables. The name is derived from the fact that they are high enough in which to stand and work.
The Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is hosting a Seasonal High Tunnel Workshop on Thursday, July 17, 2014 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. If your aim is to increase access to locally grown food, flowers, or seedlings, seasonal high tunnels may be for you. Whether you are a current owner of a high tunnel, or are considering putting one up, this workshop will provide helpful information to ensure successful growing seasons now and in the future. If your aim is to increase access to locally grown food, flowers, or seedlings, seasonal high tunnels may be for you.
The free workshop will be held at the farm of Larry and Debbie Ufferman, 4040 Horseshoe Road and is jointly sponsored by Delaware SWCD, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation – Delaware County, Ohio State University Extension – Delaware County, Stratford Ecological Center, and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Dr. Matt Kleinhenz from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio will be the featured speaker. Dr. Kleinhenz’s area of expertise is in horticulture and crop science. He conducts research in nine high tunnels on the OARDC campus. A tour of the Uffermans’ high tunnel, completed in 2014 and planted to tomatoes, cabbage, and peppers, will be included.
There are plenty of benefits associated with seasonal high tunnels. High tunnels are designed to capture heat from sunlight and shield crops against precipitation and wind. When these occur the benefits of using high tunnels include:
• Greater yield (often with less effort).
• Longer and more predictable and reliable supplies of high quality products.
• The ability to grow more crops than in open field settings.
As with any tool, proper installation, maintenance and use are necessary to maximize rewards. Mismanaging site preparation, high tunnel installation, or conditions in the tunnel can have negative consequences; however, most problems can be avoided by learning from others with experience in high tunnels. This workshop will focus on high tunnels but low and mid-tunnels will also be discussed.
Even though the Seasonal High Tunnel Workshop is free, reservations are requested. Space is limited. The deadline to register is July 14, 2014. You may register by calling the Delaware SWCD at 740-368-1921 or by visiting the website at www.delawareswcd.org. You may also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/delawareswcd.
Bonnie Dailey of the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District can be reached at email@example.com