Hitunnels and Greenhouses
Most vegetables are unable to grow outside after the first frost, which is estimated to be September 15th at Rogowski Farm. This year’s first frost arrived in mid October; however, Hurricane Irene unfortunately brought the growing season to an early end. In order to extend their growing season, Rogowski Farm has planted vegetables in 8 hitunnels and 1 green house. Our winter CSA share will be provided by these structures and the share price has been adjusted to compensate for the extra labor and resources needed. Below is a description of what a hitunnel and greenhouse is and what is required for their upkeep.
A hitunnel is an unheated greenhouse where plants are grown directly in the ground instead of on tables and in pots. The frame is made out of metal pipes and the covering is two layers of polyethylene plastic. The plastic traps the heat, and allows the plants to grow. With the winter temperatures getting down below freezing, inside the tunnel can get as low as 40 degrees at night and warms back up to the mid 70′s to 80′s during the day time. Because of such low internal temperatures, only cold weather vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, kale, and spinach are able to grow in the hitunnel. Plants grow at slower rates – almost twice as long - in the hitunnels because of the lower temperatures in fall/winter and the shorter daylight. Pictures from our last farm trip where we toured the hitunnels at Rogowsk Farm can be found on our Flickr page.
A greenhouse is a glass or plastic structure – in the case of Rogowski Farm, it is plastic – where plants grow on elevated structures such as a table. Greenhouses are heated, which is an additional cost for farmers, and similar to hitunnels in all other characteristics.
Maintenance in Hitunnels and Greenhouses:
In both structures, extra labor and resources are necessary; this will reflect on our CSA share prices in the winter season. In the hitunnels and greenhouse, all of the plants must be watered by hand by filling a 200 gallon tank with water and placing it on their tractor, driving it down to the tunnels and watering the plants with a hose. This step is necessary since there is no water access or electricity in the hitunnels, as opposed to the summer where the farm relys on nature to water the land. In addition to the manual watering, the staff must weed, cultivate, and plant the tunnels by hand, which is normally done by tractor in the summer time.
Receiving leafy greens in the winter time is a wonderful treat and we appreciate the extra time and effort by the staff at Rogowski Farm in order to bring us the best varieties and freshest vegetables this winter season.