Every fall, it seems as though we should be slowing down, and finishing up the summer research projects. Of course, we are doing this. But we are also busy gearing up for the big rush in fall data collection, and putting the final touches on our overwintering experiments.
This fall, we have been pushing hard to finish data collection on our high tunnel pepper and tomato experiments, and we just finished up with both of these last week. Low tunnel strawberries are STILL going strong, and so are the brussels sprouts. More on those later.
We have three overwintering experiments this fall. One focuses on overwintering onions, which we’ve done before and are repeating, with just a few new varieties tossed in. Another is a new one: overwintering scallions. It’s always fun and exciting to try something new. We have 14 varieties of scallions that we have planted and are planning to overwinter with row cover protection (but no low tunnels). Thus far, they are doing great and I’m looking ahead with great anticipation to see how they survive the winter, and how early they may be ready for harvest in Spring.
Our third overwintering experiment is a return to an old favorite. Many years ago, we worked with winter sprouting broccoli, a beautiful purple vegetable that brightens up plates (and winter market displays) in March. The problem was that yields were pretty low, for a crop that hogs up a high tunnel for most of the winter. But there are some new varieties, and I always did wonder whether tightening up the spacing would increase yields. So we’re trying again! We have 9 varieties planted at 2 dates, and they are off to a great start.
We’re also pretty excited about the brussels sprouts. This experiment, which is Talia Levy’s honors thesis project, focused not on the sprouts themselves, but on a pest: cabbage aphid. The great news is that we have a ton of cabbage aphid, so this means that the effects of the control practices that we’re testing should be really clear! Stay tuned. I’m leaving you in suspense on this one, until the final data are in and we have the results summarized.