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Old 12-02-2017, 09:00 AM
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... My goal every year is to have tomatoes by the 4th of July but never come close. Usually at least a month later than that, so early (and late) tomatoes is one of my primary goals.
Everybody wants to grow tomatoes. I live in zone 4, around here everyone we know plants tomatoes. The yield is very low. That crop needs long hot days and we just do not get that king of weather. If they stay on the vine too long they rot.



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... I am striving to be as self sufficient (for myself and family in case of a food crisis) as possible. My kids are raised and gone but if we do have a widespread SHTF situation, I do envision them heading back to the farm to share the load and the potential bounty.
That is a noble goal.



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I'm also hoping to produce quality produce earlier and later (because of high tunnel) than most of the others. If I can extend my growing season in both directions, I'm also hoping to market to restaurants and (I think the correct term is CSA). Time will tell as to success. At this time I have the luxury of not depending on income so I can expect to learn from my successes and failures.
We are vendors in a Farmer's Market and we know a lot of people doing CSAs.

Customers around here all come out in early Spring asking for veggies. By the time they finally are ready for harvest, the market is loaded and the customers do not come around any more, as their own gardens are producing by then.
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Old 12-02-2017, 06:35 PM
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That is weird. The player even displays for me. Here is a direct link if that doesn't work search youtube for "Greenhouse Pollination without Bees" by MHPGardener.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuwuopRrA88


That one works, thanks. Good information plus I see I could spend hours and days watching all the other shows related to market gardening.
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Old 12-02-2017, 06:45 PM
mtnairkin mtnairkin is offline
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[quote=ForestBeekeeper;16840290]Everybody wants to grow tomatoes. I live in zone 4, around here everyone we know plants tomatoes. The yield is very low. That crop needs long hot days and we just do not get that king of weather. If they stay on the vine too long they rot.



__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __
I already grow a lot of tomatoes. I need to extend my season in both directions to attract customers. I'm hoping the high tunnel will enable me to accomplish that. Another thing about tomatoes, they need warm nights. Because of where I live, the days are mostly warm enough but nights in the mountains get quite chilly. Again the 'greenhouse' ought to augment that. I am geographically in zone 5 but we get cold enough often enough that I call it 4 and 1/2 and try to plant fruit that is suited for zone 4_________________________________________________ ____________________________________________

That is a noble goal.





We are vendors in a Farmer's Market and we know a lot of people doing CSAs.

Customers around here all come out in early Spring asking for veggies. By the time they finally are ready for harvest, the market is loaded and the customers do not come around any more, as their own gardens are producing by then.[/quote


__________________________________________________ ____________________________________________
That's what I'm attempting to overcome. I've followed your posts a lot and watch your progress.


(My answers separated by lines. That's the only way I was able to make it look readable)
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:10 AM
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I finished erecting a large greenhouse a couple of months ago. Actually it's technically a plastic covered high tunnel but I call it my greenhouse. Unheated except by the sun. (If this works out well I have plans to attach a heated greenhouse to my residence)

Immediately after it was installed I took some time off and headed to my wilderness cabin so I didn't get anything planted immediately. Upon getting back I planted 2 rows of turnips and 4 rows of peas. That took about half the floor space and I sowed the rest in Austrian winter peas for ground cover and green manure. I'm new at this (planting under cover) so I don't know if the peas and turnips will have time to mature or not. The peas are about 6 to 8 inches tall and something else I thought of today is if they do bloom, how do they get pollinated with no insects during the cold season (zone about 4 and 1/2). I may have to do it by hand with an artist's brush (any ideas)?

Getting back to the subject of my rationale, I now have several very large gardens and produce a LOT of food. I live in the mountains and it does stay colder here than places just a short drive away so growth is somewhat slow. My goal every year is to have tomatoes by the 4th of July but never come close. Usually at least a month later than that, so early (and late) tomatoes is one of my primary goals. Plus there are a number of crops (particularly things like sweet potatoes and melons) that just have a difficult time flourishing with my cold nights. Most of the vegetables I raise I've been giving away (bushels of tomatoes, squash and peppers this summer) because I can't consume all I produce and my preserving efforts are limited by time at this point. I plan to increase my preserving efforts and am equipping towards that goal. I was down to a couple of choices, either cut way back on my gardening (it's ridiculous to grow that much food for no other purpose than to give it away) or to arrange my efforts to a longer season marketing endeavor), which is the route I've chosen. I didn't care much for the idea of just abandoning the gardens after all the effort getting them to this stage of fertility.

The reason for my large gardens, number one I enjoy the work and challenge of raising quantities of food. Number two, I am striving to be as self sufficient (for myself and family in case of a food crisis) as possible. My kids are raised and gone but if we do have a widespread SHTF situation, I do envision them heading back to the farm to share the load and the potential bounty.

I'm retired but with the uncertainties of the economy I'm not absolutely certain my pension will continue indefinitely. With this in mind plus the fact that I do raise so much produce, I hope to start marketing my organic veggies by one method or another instead of just giving it away. This way I might have a source of income (or barter) in the event of an economic crisis (personal or widespread). If things go on like they are, the potential of supplementing my retirement income is an attractive plus. Seems like a win/win situation. If the world falls apart and I'm able to continue to raise food, I (and the ones I care for) should have plenty of food and a good supply of barter goods.

Along with marketing efforts, I am planning to hone my canning/drying/preserving skills and at least until I get what I think is an adequate reserve, preserve what I don't sell (and then maintain that level of reserve indefinitely). By spring, I hope to be hitting the farmer's market.


I'm resurrecting my last years thread to update what I've done plus what I've learned.

First of all I'm very pleased with my high tunnel greenhouse despite a few problems I've had. Last summer my local (and rather widespread) area had copious rainfall. I had just about exactly double the average rainfall for my locale. Most local crops were drowned out and much of my outside gardens were very poor or no production.

I started out with the greenhouse expecting climate control but absolutely did not anticipate protecting from too much rain. As a result, my marketing efforts were fairly successful because local produce became very scarce, other than mine (in the farmer's market I sold at). I've been posting mostly in Farmer Chad's very good sticky thread as to my marketing experience so I won't go into that (I'm posting this because he has disappeared for a few weeks and I don't want to clutter his thread).

I did have some end door wind damage during the winter. Some faulty manufacturing design and ignorance on my part for preventing it. I think I now have it solved but it was a $700 lesson. As a result along with my water pump system fail I was several weeks weeks later planting (with my tomatoes and peppers) than I wanted to be.

Right now I have beaucoup tomatoes planted and they are doing very well. I am not yet selling at the market because my early crops (chard, beets, peas, turnips) failed because of my irrigation system breakdown.

My prime purpose is seeing how much food I can produce rather than marketing and without finding and penetrating a better market most of my effort this year will be on serious canning efforts rather than selling. If I just figure my time going to the market, my hourly wages would be very, very minimal. Figuring in all my time plowing, planting, weeding, picking, mulching, etc my hourly wage is nil.

Rainfall is more normal this year and my outdoor crops are doing well. My greenhouse tomatoes are doing great. Plants are lush and green with lots of unripe tomatoes. For the first time ever, I think I'll have ripe tomatoes by July 4th. Where I live in the mountains, I usually get tomatoes by early August. Barring any breakdowns next year, I'm hoping for tomatoes by June.
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:47 AM
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Every new venture entails a learning curve but on the whole, it sounds like you're handling yours quite well for being just one year into it! Already the greenhouse has provided an unexpected advantage in that you had stuff to sell when others had their stuff drowned or washed away.

The only advice I would offer is to keep really good notes about everything; what varieties do best in the greenhouse vs ouside, how much they produce so you don't over or underplant, how long from seeding to harvest, watering schedules, etc. I know I sound like a broken record about note taking but it really is invaluable when it comes time to plan.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:27 AM
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I have upped my book keeping quite a bit but still not enough. I try to carry a lot it my head from year to year but ya know something, that is a rather faulty system.

I did incorporate some of Catfish's mapping ideas (discussed in a thread a few weeks ago) into my system but not completed yet.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:32 AM
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It's irrational not to have one if you can afford to build one. Even a small greenhouse attached to a house could grow a phenomenal amount of food. And for those that think they can't afford to build one, google pallet greenhouse.... there are tons of plans out there.
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:43 AM
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It could. Or it could not. I have a 20x20 and got hardly anything from it last year. Hopping for more, but itís far from a sure thing.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:59 AM
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It could. Or it could not. I have a 20x20 and got hardly anything from it last year. Hopping for more, but itís far from a sure thing.


I think when you first got on this site, I'm the one who encouraged you to build a greenhouse (telling you the temperature differences between outdoor and indoor).

I know you have a shorter (and colder) growing season than I do but you still should be able to get better results from your efforts. It's been a cold spring here and my greenhouse produce at this point looks amazingly good. I also recognize Murphy's law so am trying not to feel too confident.

Also I think you have shallow soil from what I've read in your posts. Mulch, mulch, mulch is what I'd recommend trying.

Manure, old hay, leaves (hardwood not pine needles), wood chips, any vegetable matter you can gather. It does wonders for me.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:14 AM
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Our greenhouse is very small so we use it to start plants only.
We are in 5 b zone so starting in the greenhouse usually allows tomatoes by late July.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnairkin View Post
I think when you first got on this site, I'm the one who encouraged you to build a greenhouse (telling you the temperature differences between outdoor and indoor).

I know you have a shorter (and colder) growing season than I do but you still should be able to get better results from your efforts. It's been a cold spring here and my greenhouse produce at this point looks amazingly good. I also recognize Murphy's law so am trying not to feel too confident.

Also I think you have shallow soil from what I've read in your posts. Mulch, mulch, mulch is what I'd recommend trying.

Manure, old hay, leaves (hardwood not pine needles), wood chips, any vegetable matter you can gather. It does wonders for me.
Hardwood does not exist here so I would have to import hardwood leaves if I wanted them. Pine needles are the only free bio-mass I have.

I have virtually no soil. I leave on a terminal morraine, which is basically just a giant gravel pile left over from the last ice age. Everything is in containers. I buy potting soil in 700lb bags from a local manufacturer. Total cost of the greenhouse and soil...well, It makes me want to jump off a bridge when I think of how much LTS food I could have bought instead.

It was also a cold spring here. Greenhouse was buried in snow through march. My tomato plants look really nice....but they are only about 8" tall so far. I did grow a few radishes....but I had a lot of slug problems until recently. Now that the weather has warmed up they went away...of course, now that its warm the radishes are starting to bolt. Beans are finally starting to come up though.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:58 PM
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No aspens? I read through your greenhouse thread and it seems like you are growing entirely in containers. I am greenhouse gardening completely on the ground. I've not done enough container gardening to make real judgements but what I've done, I get much better results directly in the dirt. Less sensitive to temperature and moisture changes (and much less attention needed).

Seems like maybe for the retail price of the potting soil you are buying, you could get a dump truck load of top soil delivered. The under layer of rocky soil you have should provide decent drainage. Your 20 X 20 tunnel (if you haven't doubled it) could be covered with a 15 yd. load, a foot deep. Might be worth a try. Check the availability and put a pencil to it.

I grew bushels of tomatoes plus other stuff in my larger tunnel. Sold some, gave more away and canned some (last year).

April here was rather warm, May a little cooler than normal and June so far much cooler than normal. I have more tomatoes planted this year than last and the outdoor ones are thriving too (later than the GH). Last summer the outdoor garden was a bust. Rain, rain, rain! Greenhouse tomato plants are now about eyeball height.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnairkin View Post
I finished erecting a large greenhouse a couple of months ago. Actually it's technically a plastic covered high tunnel but I call it my greenhouse. Unheated except by the sun. (If this works out well I have plans to attach a heated greenhouse to my residence)

Immediately after it was installed I took some time off and headed to my wilderness cabin so I didn't get anything planted immediately. Upon getting back I planted 2 rows of turnips and 4 rows of peas. That took about half the floor space and I sowed the rest in Austrian winter peas for ground cover and green manure. I'm new at this (planting under cover) so I don't know if the peas and turnips will have time to mature or not. The peas are about 6 to 8 inches tall and something else I thought of today is if they do bloom, how do they get pollinated with no insects during the cold season (zone about 4 and 1/2). I may have to do it by hand with an artist's brush (any ideas)?

Getting back to the subject of my rationale, I now have several very large gardens and produce a LOT of food. I live in the mountains and it does stay colder here than places just a short drive away so growth is somewhat slow. My goal every year is to have tomatoes by the 4th of July but never come close. Usually at least a month later than that, so early (and late) tomatoes is one of my primary goals. Plus there are a number of crops (particularly things like sweet potatoes and melons) that just have a difficult time flourishing with my cold nights. Most of the vegetables I raise I've been giving away (bushels of tomatoes, squash and peppers this summer) because I can't consume all I produce and my preserving efforts are limited by time at this point. I plan to increase my preserving efforts and am equipping towards that goal. .

What?? You're retired and you don't have enough time for canning all your produce?

I'm envious. Sounds like you have a great set up!
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Old 06-16-2019, 09:50 AM
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I think your hard work is rewarding you , Mtnairkin. I agree containers limit the beneficial organisms and interchanges with fungi and all that . I watch Elaine Ingram videos and I am pretty convinced containers will never be the same as in ground gardening .
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Old 06-16-2019, 12:03 PM
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I think your hard work is rewarding you , Mtnairkin. I agree containers limit the beneficial organisms and interchanges with fungi and all that . I watch Elaine Ingram videos and I am pretty convinced containers will never be the same as in ground gardening .


I have heard references to her previously on some podcasts. Have yet to devote some time to listening to her in depth. Sounds interesting.
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Old 06-20-2019, 06:53 AM
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What?? You're retired and you don't have enough time for canning all your produce?

I'm envious. Sounds like you have a great set up!


I will admit, there are just not enough hours in the day to 'get 'er all done'.

One big thing I've done to speed up my canning efforts is I have gotten several of those propane burners (similar to the burners for turkey cookers). I get out on the porch where there is a cool breeze and have gotten as many as 4 canners going and can get beaucoup jars done in a day. I have 5 of the burners but so far have only maxed out at 4 at a time. They were not that expensive, thirty couple of bucks a piece with free shipping.

This last canning effort (Sept.) was tomato juice (V8) and I processed and canned 103 or 104 quarts (can't remember which). For better control of temps, I was doing the cooking on the kitchen range plus also doing the squeezing the juice from the veggies.

My previous mega effort was in the kitchen when I canned 100 quarts of potatoes. Hot work plus I melted down 2 of the burners on the electric range.
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Old 06-20-2019, 07:07 AM
mtnairkin mtnairkin is offline
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I think your hard work is rewarding you , Mtnairkin. I agree containers limit the beneficial organisms and interchanges with fungi and all that . I watch Elaine Ingram videos and I am pretty convinced containers will never be the same as in ground gardening .


I don't get much chance to watch videos but I'll try to find her's and take a look.

My tomatoes are doing so good this year in the tunnel that it's scary. I know all about the "best laid plans of mice and men'' and hope nothing goes wrong.

They are all mulched, staked and caged and now about grown to the top of my head. Lots of blossoms and green tomatoes. Maybe, just maybe I'll get my mythical 4th of July red one.

I think next year I can improve a little on my timing. I had some door/wind damage (and water supply problems) and couldn't get them started as early as I wanted.
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