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Sweet Pepper Success

Posted 8/15/2012 1:33pm by Jenna Untiedt.

Farming is all about weighing risk and minimizing it. There is absolutely no way to be a farmer and not feel the effects of nature. There are so many variables working every second that contribute to the success or failure of our crops.

Over the last 40 years we’ve researched what works within our growing climate, high tunnel operation and our specific soil type. We’ve come to learn about many natural soil amendments, and ways to make the most of the excess our farm produces by starting our compost program so many years ago.

I truly believe each season that we are better educated and more aware of what is possible. We document every lesson learned. So when it’s time to buy seeds, the discussion can be had “what’s new and exciting,” but we can also know that the venture crop variety could possibly work at our farm because of our seasonal records, and growing methods.

The sweet Italian pepper we tried to grow this year, is a perfect example. This seed is very expensive to buy, and is considered “risky”. Many people will not devote much land to the crop since it is expensive to grow with low return compared to others. But we want to offer our customers variety, and the best small fruits and vegetables available in Minnesota.

You can see from the photo album below this experience has turned out some beautiful peppers, but there has been much at risk as well.

The peppers in the photo gallery have been grown in our high tunnels. We have another portion growing out in the field, but we’ve combated many issues with that plot.

First, it is very difficult to shade these plants in the open field. There are cloths one can buy, but with wind and stormy conditions they don’t hold up for too long. As a result, many of the plants experienced sun scald on their fruits.

Second was that many of the plants experienced blossom end rot on their first sets of fruit, which is a sign of calcium deficiency.

We feed our plants the nutrients they need through drip tape irrigation. One of those nutrients is calcium. Well, similar to how your shower head or kitchen faucet clogs due to calcium build up, our drip tape can experience this as well, and did in this field.

Once we realized the drip tape was no longer irrigating the field properly, we had two options. Weigh the risk of sending a vinegar solution through the lines to unclog them, which could result in a lower pH level in the soil, potentially harming the plant. Or, leave it as is, and hope the rain will be sufficient.

After weighing the pros and cons, we’ve left the drip tape alone, and pulled off the first fruit sets to allow the plant to focus on its next cluster. We have learned a lot from this experimental variety, and are excited to bring you the sweet Italian peppers harvested from our high tunnels. Look for them at the Farmers’ Market soon.

Let us know if you have any questions on our Facebook Page.

Until next time,

Jerry