David and Carmelo pick arugula raab in a greenhouse full of overgrown salad greens.
It’s no secret that Gathering Together Farm has embraced the use of season-extending plastic greenhouses. This year we have 38 of them plus the heated propagation greenhouse for starting seedlings. Greenhouses offer extra heat during the cooler seasons and the opportunity to deliver a measured amount of water to plants (as opposed to whatever the sky lets loose). Unfortunately, they are expensive to buy, build, and maintain because of the infrastructure costs and the extra labor hours needed to set up irrigation and do the work that a tractor could do out in an open field. There is also the looming risk of losing greenhouses during winter snow storms or other extreme weather events. This winter we had two small greenhouses collapse under the weight of snow in January (read more here), but the middle-of-the-night snow-sloughing efforts of John, Sally, and several crew members saved the rest during the deep snows at the end of March.
The reality is that we have thousands of individual and restaurant customers that want to buy produce from us year round, and we have nearly a hundred employees that are eager to work as much as possible. Growing under cover allows us to produce larger quantities of higher-quality fruits and vegetables for more of the year than the outdoor Oregon climate would permit.
At this time, all our greenhouses are in use. Our mid-season staples like tomatoes and cucumbers are well established, and some early spring crops are finishing up and will soon be harvested, torn out, or tilled in to prepare for planting fall crops. Each photo (or set of two photos) below represents a single greenhouse, so you should get a good sense of how we’re employing these shelters. (There are two additional greenhouses planted with more tomatoes that were somehow overlooked during the photo shoot. Sorry.) In some of these photos, you will see weeds because unfortunately, this organic farm is not pristinely weed-free.
first of the season strawberries
white salad turnips going to flower
white salad turnips
lettuces for salad mix (plus weeds)
sage and tarragon
baby leeks that will soon be dug up and transplanted outdoors
scallions (left) and baby bunching onions
peppers (See more about planting peppers here.)
tomatoes (See more about trellising tomatoes here.)
the propagation greenhouse with the tomato grafting chamber in the back on the left
red leaf head lettuce
Sometimes when we want to add extra heat in a greenhouse, the crew will build a floating row cover tent over the crop.
The crew (Macario on the left and David on the right) lays down plastic mulch in a greenhouse that was later planted with more tomatoes and eggplant.
radicchio for salad mix
spinach (See more about seeding this spinach in here.)