Illustration by KRISTIN HURLIN
As a farmer, I’m always looking for new ideas and simple, low-cost solutions to improve production and efficiency. I have never found any activity that cannot be improved (and then improved again) by a diligent process of critical evaluation. Long before my wife, Barbara Damrosch, and I came up with the design for our low tunnels (miniature greenhouse tunnels), we had already improved our greenhouses by making them moveable, first on skids and later on wheels. But innovation is a never-ending process. The ideal solution is always less expensive, simpler to build and less complicated to manage. We consider it pleasant mental exercise to refine all aspects of our agricultural production to the essentials.
For a harvest of mature onions in early summer to sell at our farm stand, we were interested in growing the fall-planted onion varieties listed in seed catalogs. ‘Olympic,’ an overwintering onion from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, has become our favorite variety. It only keeps in storage for a few months, but that’s no problem because they all sell by the time later onions are harvestable. Because the low temperatures here in Maine are too harsh for overwintered onions to survive, we needed to grow them with protection from the weather. We decided to grow them in one of our unheated moveable greenhouse rotations.
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