Saturday, March 17, 2012

Season extension with mini-tunnels

Ajay Nair
Assistant Professor
Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University

Short growing seasons are typical in Iowa (although 2012 can change things around!). The risk of frost damage and low soil and air temperatures during the growing season are major constraints for vegetable production. Strategies that help extend growing seasons are thus imperative for successful production of fresh and quality produce. With increased interest and demand for locally grown produce growers are diversifying their production operations and integrating a wide variety of crops into their cropping systems. A crop that could be easily grown and could fetch a good price in the market is lettuce. The following video was recorded in November 2011 and discusses the use of mini-tunnels for lettuce production in October. This study also investigated the effect of row cover and calcium application on fall lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. ‘Ermosa’) production at the Horticulture Research Station, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Three week old lettuce transplants were transplanted on 3 October, 2011on raised beds covered with black plastic mulch. A medium weight row cover was installed over the row cover treatment one week after transplanting.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Transplant Production Workshop (Saturday April 7, 2012)

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University
Department of Horticulture in partnership with The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture is organizing a Vegetable Transplant Production Workshop for home gardeners, vegetable producers, greenhouse growers, and folks interested in growing their own vegetables from transplants.  The workshop titled "Tips and Tricks of Vegetable Transplant Production," is scheduled for Saturday, April 7, 2012 at Horticulture Hall on the Iowa State campus in Ames. The day-long workshop, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., will focus on specific areas of transplant production — greenhouse lighting, water quality, nutrient medium, organic production and pest management. Participants also would have an opportunity to get hands-on experience evaluating transplants grown in different growing medium and different cell sizes. One of the workshop sessions will provide information on some new medium alternatives for vegetable transplant production including dried distiller’s grain with solubles (DDGS) and biochar.
Advantages of transplants are many — uniform growth, robust growth and healthy root system. Production of transplants involves advance planning and optimum use of greenhouse resources. This is critical for vegetable transplants like tomato and pepper that are in the greenhouse for six to seven weeks. Workshop sessions will explain proper sanitation measures, quality seed and growing mediums, and how to manage greenhouse environments so growers can produce healthy, disease free and quality transplants that contribute towards higher yield and productivity.
Registration before April 1 is $15; after that date registration is $20. Access program information and registration by clicking any of the links below: