Early May represents an in-between season when storage coolers are close to empty but the earliest field crops haven’t come in yet. Fortunately, farmers across the Valley have developed many creative techniques to make sure there’s a supply of local vegetables during this shoulder season.
Field cucumbers don’t hit full stride until July, but Gideon Porth, owner of Atlas Farm in Deerfield, is able to beat the curve by growing a specially-bred variety of cucumbers in his heated greenhouse. His crew transplanted the young cucumber plants into the ground of the greenhouse at the beginning of March. As the plants grew over the past month and a half, the crew carefully trellised them by clipping the stalks to strings hanging vertically from the top of the greenhouse. “Cucumbers tendril, they’re climbing and vining plants by nature, but they don’t do it very organized on their own,” Porth explained. The plants are already waist-high and by mid-June, they’ll be nearly eight feet tall.
During mid-May, Porth’s struggle against foliar diseases attacking the leaves will begin. By the end of June, the greenhouse cucumbers will likely reach the end of their run, just in time for the beginning of field cucumber season.