Project Title: Growing Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) Vertically in High Tunnels
Mentor: Andy Radin
High tunnels, a larger version of low tunnels, are a type of agricultural structure used to extend growing seasons by trapping solar radiation. In essence, a high tunnel is a frame covered in polyethylene, a transparent plastic, with a ventilation system. Yields are increased by creating a microclimate where the air is warm inside the structure during the beginning and towards the end of the growing season. However, when used for a low growing crop like cucumbers, the available vertical space of high tunnels can be under-utilized by using traditional cultivation methods. A more effective method for cultivating cucumbers and similar crops is to grow them vertically using a trellis system to better utilize space. Together Andy Radin, our plant science department’s agricultural extension agent, and myself grew 10 different varieties of cucumbers vertically in a high tunnel via a trellis system to better utilize the available vertical space. From only a few hundred square feet we harvested just under 1500lbs of marketable cucumbers in just under two months.