The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture
by Andrew Mefferd, 261 pages, 8x10, softcover. Farmer, former researcher at the trial farms of our friendly neighboring seed company, and current editor and publisher of Growing for Market magazine, Mefferd brings his valuable experience in protected vegetable culture to this straightforward manual for commercial growers. In 2009, Mefferd (along with most of Maine) despaired to see his field-grown tomatoes succumb to late blight at first fruit. Today, he pulls thirty pounds of tomatoes off a single plant in his greenhouse! Growing under cover offers more diversity year-round for locavores and offers insurance against disruptions to the international food distribution system. For growers, up-front investment is rewarded by hugely increased yields per square foot and a hedge against cash flow rollercoasters—not to mention our increasingly vagrant weather. Mefferd opens by detailing the Dutch approach to protected culture: maximizing the use of space, managing climate, variety selection, structure type, and operational efficiency. The second half of the book offers detailed instructions for the eight crops most likely to generate a profit: four “long crops” (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant) and four “short crops” (lettuce, greens, microgreens and herbs). Appendices address pests and diseases, tools and supplies, and even offer a word on the bogeyman of organics—hydroponic production. -Alice Coyle
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