It’s the beginning of May and many North Texas veggie farmers are just beginning to see tiny fruits on their field squash and bean plants. They are harvesting the first spring carrots and the last of the asparagus. It’s an unusual time of year for farmers to bring summer crops to market, unless they are growing in greenhouses.
Today green houses are a fairly common asset to the small farmer. “Season Extension”, as they call it, has become a hot topic at farming conferences and in publications. Farmers are capitalizing on a growing through the winter, or getting a significant jump start in the spring.
Green houses of all shapes and sizes are being utilized. Some build hoop structures atop field crops either two or ten feet all; these are called low and high tunnels. Others maintain greenhouses with varying degrees of investment. Many keep one or two greenhouses, while others invest in five, ten, even thirty structures per farm. The methods of growing beneath the protection of plastic vary as well. Some farmers grow directly in the soil or line up long rows of plastic pots filled with it, but others grow hydroponically, relying on water and minerals instead of soil. The possibilities seem endless, but the result is the same—tomatoes in March!
Green house production has allowed for the best early spring variety we’ve seen yet at the Coppell Farmers Market. We’ve had farmers offer green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini since opening day on April 2nd
Greenhouse season is winding down with warmer weather and mature field crops on their way. Keith Copp, owner of D-Bar Farm, explained that he begins planting in September, harvesting his earliest crops in November. He operates nine large greenhouses and grew a total of 32 crops this season, including lettuce, swiss chard, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Grower Chris Buckalew of Weathertop Farm has offered greenhouse tomatoes and zucchini since opening day. Cardo’s Sprout Farm grew a nice crop of cool weather roots and lettuces inside their greenhouse.
Most farmers who grow their own are proud of it, so don’t be afraid to ask your farmer about their early season crops. Look for a variety of summer and spring produce this weekend at the Coppell Farmers Market.
Written By Amanda Austin, CFM Manager