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2019 Plans and Plants

Posted by Jake Emling, CropKing Horticulturist on 12/17/2018

The slower greenhouse season has given me a chance to plan for the next few months. With my extra time on hand, I have been able to put together some new and exciting things to grow in the greenhouse! We also have some new projects happening around here that will be fun for us in 2019, so without any more time being wasted let’s get into it:

New Leafy Greens


Orach red cultivar

First on the list is “Orach” (Atriplex hortensis) we have been growing both the red and green cultivars inside of the greenhouse. It is a nice leafy plant that has a taste similar to spinach crossed with kale. It has done very well in the NFT channels and works great for those circumstances where it is too hot to grow spinach since it is similar in flavor and texture. We recommend harvesting the leaves off of the plant when they get to be about the size of a tennis ball.


Finstar in NFT channel about 4 weeks old

Next on the list is “Finstar” (Lactuca sativa) which is a non-heading ice lettuce that has a nice bright green color and open type of structure. We have observed good growth, resistance to bolting, and good disease resistance. This variety does well in cooler temperatures and it has a great crunch and flavor that I highly recommend trying in 2019.


Bel Fiore harvest in greenhouse

Last but not to be forgotten for new leafy greens is “Bel Fiore” (Cichorium intybus), a chicory that we have grown in the NFT systems as an open head chicory. It has been a good performer with a fast rate of growth. I recommend harvesting this plant once the head is about eight inches in diameter.

Other plans:

With lots of concern about water quality and the chemical makeup of nutrient solutions, we have decided to start our own in-house water testing facility. We will be able to more effectively monitor the nutrient solution being delivered to the plants in our greenhouse and we will be able to make more precise fertilizer additions. These instruments will allow us to also monitor or source water and other applications of nutrients inside of the greenhouse. This lab will be up and running at the beginning of the new year. Make sure to stay tuned for updates on what we are working on here in the blog posts.

There will also be a new greenhouse structure being constructed this winter to allow for more research and education space in 2019. The new greenhouse being built is a new structure design for CropKing and will be located by the existing research greenhouses at our headquarters in Lodi, Ohio. This new structure will be a gutter connect style house with a 14-foot sidewall, blackout curtains, evaporative cooling, polycarbonate sidewall option, and posts designed to bolt to a cement pad. This structure should be up and functioning by the time of our first workshop for Spring of 2019.

For other behind the scenes looks at what's going on in our greenhouses, be sure to follow us on Instagram!

Bonus: Dad joke for the week: Why are Christmas trees so bad at knitting? Because they always drop their needles.

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