I want to take a second to highlight the structures that have made our first year of full season extension here at Eden Hall Farm possible. We were able to grow this full past year, thanks to the foundation and support of our four greenhouses. They have weathered wind and rain and withstood the test of time.
Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes and can range from fairly inexpensive to highly designed structures. The goal and use of a greenhouse for season extension is multi-fold.
The benefits include:
- Providing extended growing seasons
- Protecting crops from damaging weather
- Providing more optimal conditions for a better quality and higher yield harvest
- Protecting against disease, insects and predators
- Providing extended work to laborers
- Providing extended marketing season to growers
On our farm, we have four different types of greenhouses.
The first greenhouse is our heated glass greenhouse. This greenhouse is used by students for class work and experiments, but is also vital to our farm-to-institution functioning. We used the glass greenhouse warmth this past winter to start and grow seeds and its adjoining building as our harvest wash room.
The second greenhouse is our Solar High Tunnel. This greenhouse is heated by solar energy and has been used the most throughout this past winter to grow our hardy greens, such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, tatsoi, Red Sail and Rhazes lettuce and is also home to our beets, peppers, and carrots. The Solar High Tunnel is equipped with sliding seeding tables that now hold several trays and gutters of new seedlings. It is also now home to our baby Praying Mantises.
The third greenhouse is our Moveable High Tunnel. This greenhouse is currently growing only kale and Swiss chard, but is being prepped to start production for upcoming summer plans. What is unique about this greenhouse is the ability to slide the entire structure on a set of runners to cover a completely new plot of soil. This is useful for crop rotation and soil preservation.
The fourth greenhouse is our Hoop House. This simple structure is one of the more inexpensive designs, but still provides all of the benefits of season extension listed above. This hoop house was not used through this past winter, but has plans to be tilled and prepared for our new ginger crop.
The diversity at Eden Hall Farm does not stop at its crops (both plants and humans!), but includes its structures as well!