The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 27, 2012

Greenhouse, even in winter, offers ‘all the fixin’s for a salad’

GALENA, Kan. — Temperatures haven’t risen much above freezing in the past week on a patch of land between Galena and Riverton, but that didn’t stop Tim and Violet Green from harvesting a few hundred pounds of tomatoes.

The bounty was picked from plants that are not being grown hydroponically or in pots. They are growing at ground level in Kansas soil.

Bright red, shiny and the size of grapefruit, the tomatoes were the product of seed the couple started in July.

“We’re the only ones I know of who grow all winter within about 200 miles,” Tim Green said.

Their secret?

“They’re called high tunnels,” he said of the long, rounded structures in which the retired couple also grow several varieties of lettuce, radishes, onions, cucumbers and green peppers.

“We have all the fixin’s for a salad, any time you want it,” Violet Green said.

A high tunnel, or hoop house, is a low-cost version of a greenhouse that can help market gardeners extend their growing season in order to improve the profitability of their farms.

According to the Missouri Vegetable Growers Association, high tunnels can be as simple as pipes or other framework covered by a single layer of greenhouse-grade 4-millimeter to 6-millimeter plastic sheathing. Typically, they aren’t outfitted with electricity for heating or cooling.

In 2001, research by the Bradford Research and Extension Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia evaluated the yield performance of several tomato cultivars within a high tunnel and in the field. The study found that high tunnels significantly enhanced the yield of the tomatoes.

“Based on the result in this research,” the study concluded, “it is possible for a grower to have vine-ripe tomatoes from mid-June until October in the central Midwest by using high tunnels as a complement to field production.”

But the Greens took it one step further. “We installed wood-fired furnaces for times when the temperatures really dip,” Tim Green said. “Our only cost is labor.”

Hence their crop of cucumbers, romaine lettuce, green peppers, and row after row of Red Deuce, Red Bounty and Carolina Gold tomatoes that are producing in late December.

During the recent onset of colder weather, Tim Green has bunked in a sleeping bag on a cot next to one of the furnaces, and he wakes several times a night to feed them more wood.

“When you wake up cold, that’s when you know you need to feed it,” he said.

The Greens use drip irrigation via a network of tiny spouts to each and every plant, and they practice heavy pruning to keep the plants from getting too wet and overgrown.

“They must have good air circulation,” Violet Green said.

The couple have relied on a fair amount of trial and error.

“We learned that in here, the time the plants take to mature is about 20 days longer,” Tim Green said. “The seed packet says 73 days, but in here we plan on 93. There is less light — it’s diffused — so it slows down photosynthesis.”

He also puts into practice years of knowledge learned while shadowing his grandfather, Vert Charles Dudley, starting when he was 6 years old.

“I followed him around his garden north of Stone’s Corner in Joplin,” he said. “We were both having a good time. He was teaching, and I was learning, and neither one of us realized it.”

Tim Green, who worked in the grocery business and for the highway department, described the couple’s level of involvement in gardening as “a hobby that got out of control. It was a job I always would have liked to have.”

There have been setbacks. One year, a new heating system went out the first night it was installed, and they lost everything. This year, the plastic that shielded the cabbage was ripped off in strong winds, which killed the delicate vegetable. But the couple’s persistence has paid off. The Greens are regulars at the Webb City (Mo.) Farmers Market throughout the winter, and they will be there today.

“One year we had more than 2,000 pounds of tomatoes,” Tim Green said. “We sell all we can grow.”

They also will play host to a Feb. 5 winter gardening conference under the direction of the University of Missouri and the Webb City Farmers Market. The conference will be open to the public, and attendees will include market gardeners from as far away as New York.

Come spring, the Greens will begin tending a well-established garden plot north of the tunnels, where 35 rows of blackberry bushes and 12 rows of asparagus plants will demand their attention.

They also will set out dozens of onion plants growing in trays in the smallest of their high tunnels, where neighboring Greek and red lettuce, and radishes now are making a showy appearance.

“Our son, Tim Green Jr., and our daughters and grandkids sometimes help,” Tim Green said. “I’m glad for the help, and glad to pass on what I know.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter