Cucumbers and Cantaloupes
Farm Hub introduces new vegetables and fruits
The 2021 growing season brings new vegetables and fruits to the greenhouses and the field rotation.
This year the production team introduced greenhouse cucumbers and a variety of no-till melons to the crop plan. These new additions were inspired by feedback from organizations with whom we partner on distribution to emergency food networks.
The Farm Hub donates a wide variety of produce to organizations such as the Kingston Emergency Food Collaborative and People’s Place that distribute the food to the local community. In 2020, in response to the skyrocketing need for food from the pandemic, the Farm Hub added root crops, dry edible beans, and baking flour to the donation mix. Now enter cucumbers and melons.
There are three varieties of cucumber, red and yellow watermelons, two varieties of cantaloupe, and a Charentais-type specialty melon (defined as a French cantaloupe). Jeff Arnold, vegetable production manager, says the varieties were chosen based on flavor and disease resistance.
“Cucumbers and melons can be a real challenge to grow organically in this region. Not only do you have a number of insects and diseases that are quite problematic, but if you do manage to grow a good crop, chances are the birds and raccoons will find the ripe ones before you do,” says Jeff Arnold, vegetable production manager.
The production team will use a variety of tools to avoid challenges with getting a good crop including crop rotation, soil building and row cover.
“We use scare balloons to deter birds, but they don’t work well. For the pests and diseases, there are some organic pesticides we can use, but again, they don’t work well,” Arnold says.
Despite potential roadblocks he is confident there will be a crop.
While initial harvests are expected in July, seeding for the cucumbers started in the greenhouse in April with planting planned for mid-May.
The melons will be seeded in May with an early June planting on the horizon. Arnold says they will be no-till, which means that they will be planted directly into a rolled and crimped cover crop, rather than into tilled ground.
Christine Hein, executive director of People’s Place, says melons and cucumbers will be much welcome for community members who utilize the pantry and café. On the rare occasions that watermelons have been available they were quickly snapped up.
Hein observes that melons are high in demand since they are not often distributed for donation. And while cucumbers aren’t common at the pantry they are popular when available.
“People know what to do with cucumber — they can just cut it and eat it or they can throw it in the greens.”