SUNIVERSITY OF Cooperative Extension Service
FLORIDA Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
A Vegetable Crops Extension Publication
lorticultural &cicnce Department P.O. 110690 Gaincaville, f 32611 Telephone 904/392-2134
November 20, 1996
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.
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I NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
H. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Vegetable Transplant Cells: the Bigger, the Better?
B. Growing Organic through Plowshares CSA.
II. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Accomplishments of Florida's Urban Gardening Programs.
Note: Anyone is free to use the information in this newsletter. Whenever
possible, please give credit to the authors. The purpose of trade names in this
publication is solely for the purpose of providing information and does not
necessarily constitute a recommendation of the product.
L NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
December 8-11, 1996. National
Pepper Conference. Naples Beach Hotel and
Golf Club, Naples, FL. Contact Don
February 6-7, 1997. Weed
Management and Horticultural Crops
Workshop. Clarion Plaza Hotel, Orlando.
Contact Don Maynard
March 6-13, 1997. 1997 Florida
Postharvest Horticulture and Industry Tour.
Contact Steve Sargent, Coordinator, Hort.
Sci., UF, Gainesville (352) 392-2134 ext. 215.
I. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Vegetable transplant cells: the
bigger, the better?
While touring transplant production
houses this fall I was struck by something
peculiar ... trays with only 150 or even 72
plants! A far cry from the industry standard of
242 plants per tray. At a time when most
growers are cutting costs to the bone, why
would some request tomato transplants in cells
that add $35 or more to their cost per
The trend in modem tray design has
been to pack more and more cells in a tray (i.e.
smaller and smaller cell volumes) to increase
the number of plants per house. More plants
per house means greater efficiency for the
transplant production facility.
So why then this move toward bigger
cells? Let's look at what has been offered over
the past 30 years by the scientific community.
Table 1 lists nine notable studies where
researchers compared growing transplants in
cells of varying volume (bigger cell volume
means fewer cells per tray). In 6 of the 9
studies, transplants grown in larger cells led to
significantly bigger transplants at planting and
increased early and/or total yield. The trend
toward higher yield with larger cells was also
noticed in the trials that did not show
statistically based differences.
Some researchers noted that some
cultivars respond less dramatically to larger
cells, but that the trend was still similar. Also,
whether the trays are plastic or styrofoam the
trend remains the same. Field growth of plants
grown from larger cells generally showed
more rapid development and an ability to resist
insects and diseases.
Why is "bigger" better? Researchers
have suggested a general reduction in stress,
greater availability of water and fertilizer, and
unrestricted root growth as possible answers.
Three of the trials cited here were carried out
in Florida; however the data indicate this
phenomenon holds true in Georgia, Indiana,
Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and
Israel. We continue to compile data in Florida
with trials presently in Palm Beach County
(pepper) and Hendry County (tomato).
Economics may still play a role in the
decision to grow transplants in larger cells,
especially for crops like pepper where
population densities are high. However, in
crops such as tomato or watermelon the
increase in yield and earliness should cover
that small investment up front.
Table 1. A summary of 30 years of research on containerized vegetable transplant cell volume.z
Crop/Yr.y Cell Volume Transplant Height (cm) Field Yield (tons/hectare)x
Tomato/1964 2, 3, 4 inch pots 7, 8, 12 inch 1, 1.4, 1.8W
Broccoli/1985 04, 15, 31 3, 4, 5 12, 13, 15 total
Tomato/I 986 04, 19, 39 10, 20, 21 08, 09, 18 early
Cabbage/1988 08, 28, 39 10, 09, 12 1.9, 2.1, 2.2"
Pepper/1988 06, 19, 39 19, 20, 22 1.6, 2.3, 4.3 early
Watermelon/i 989 19, 39 53, 57 total
Pepper/1990 05, 35, 65 12, 16, 17 64, 60, 64 total
Watermelon/1993 19, 31, 66 49, 50, 52 total
Muskmelon/1996 07, 36, 70 25, 51, 69" 15, 27, 33 total
2 Contact the author for specifics on any or all the studies listed.
Y Not all data are represented in each study for ease of table format and presentation.
x tons/hectare x 0.446 = tons per acre
" lbs early fruit/plant
v lbs per head
"leaf area in cm2
(Vavrina, Vegetarian 96-11)
wing organic through
What is community supported
A CSA is a community of consumers joining
to support a local farmer to produce
organically grown food for their table. This
alliance assures the farmer of a prepaid local
market for the crop while providing
community members informed choices about
their food. The CSA movement restores an
age-old tradition whereby communities come
together around the planting, tending,
harvesting and eating of food.
How does plowshares CSA work?
A group of interested citizens have formed a
working "core group" to organize and
administer the CSA. In September 1996 the
core group formed an alliance with Rose
Koenig of Rosie's Organic Farm, 1717 SW.
120 Terr., Gainesville, FL. The core group
will work closely with Rose coordinating
volunteer help in the garden, soliciting
members, circulating a monthly newsletter, and
keeping the books. Volunteer help, although
welcome and needed, is not required of
members. Many members are unable to devote
significant time to working in the garden.
How much does a share cost?
At Gainesville, a share constitutes a weekly
bag of varied fresh vegetables and specialty
items such as culinary herbs, gourmet salad
greens and ethnic vegetables during the 32-35
week growing season, from Jan. 1 to July 15,
and Oct. 15 to Dec. 31. This is about 8-12
pounds of produce per week, enough to feed
2-4 people, at a cost of $400. A half-share
weighing 4-6 pounds feeds 1-2 people and
costs $225. A limited number of working
shares at reduced cost will be available.
Where can food be picked up?
Shares are distributed locally at pick-up points
as directed, such as farmer's markets.
The Gainesville growers.
Rose Koenig and Tom Mirti started Rosie's
Organic Farm in 1993. They are certified
organic, which means they annually go
through a rigorous inspection process to
ensure adherence to the rules and regulations
of the Florida Organic Growers Assn. Organic
growing means that only naturally occurring
organic inputs are used in the farming
operation. They employ practices such as crop
rotation, cover cropping, introduction of
biological control agents for insect protection,
intercropping, composted manures and
resistant varieties. The goal is to produce high
quality vegetables and herbs in harmony with
the natural environment and to promote
ecologically sound agricultural practices.
Why buy certified organic produce?
Many people are not aware of what goes into
the food they eat and where it is produced.
Much of the produce sold in groceries is
imported from countries that have little or no
control over which pesticides growers use on
their crops. Many of the pesticides banned in
this country are legal to use in other countries.
Certified organic producers must adhere to the
rules of their certifying board. This gives
concerned consumers control over what they
eat and the peace of mind that the produce is
Risks Members of a CSA are making
a choice to be involved in the production of
their own food. By this choice they share the
benefits of local fresh food along with the risks
of variable weather and a reduced harvest.
Experienced CSA's report that losing a
complete harvest is very unlikely. Diversified
cropping and wise growing practices minimize
the risk of loss.
(J. M. Stephens and Jim Ferguson
m. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Accomplishments of Florida's
Urban Gardening Programs.
During 1996 county Extension staffs in
Florida assisted home vegetable gardeners in a
variety of ways. The following accomplish-
ments were reported by hort agents in some of
Miami In a desperate attempt to thwart
crime with positive imaging, the City of Miami
police department asked Dade County Master
Gardeners to start a community garden on a
street having the highest crime rate in the city.
The selected vacant lot had been the site of the
recent slaying of two policemen, and of
numerous citizens in the past. When Master
Gardener Lee Afford and the Horticulture
Agent proceeded to the lot on 62nd St. to
plan the garden, they were accompanied by
two policemen as guards. While they were
there, a man was shot just one street away.
Two crack houses faced the lot. The
project got underway with the clearing of
needles from the lot, along with the usual
assortment of inner-city trash. The Master
Gardeners recruited gardeners by standing in
the street and asking anyone who peered out
their window to join the community garden.
Many who lived along the street wanted to
grow a garden as they had done back in Haiti.
So they joined along with many others, and
planted their assigned plots with herbs,
tomatoes, tanniers, and other favorite crops.
From a nearby school came 65 kindergarten
children each Wednesday to be taught about
gardening in the plots.
During the 1996 Spring gardening
season, there were no serious crimes in the
area of the project. However, as soon as the
garden closed for the summer, two nearby
shootings occurred, one in which a young Boy
Scout was killed. Everyone connected with
the garden or hearing about it are crediting the
project with creating at least a lull in the
violence and providing some hope that
community pride can be restored for these
citizens. A local farmer has volunteered to
donate all of the supplies needed for this and
other such gardens in the City, and local
prisoners have agreed to raise vegetable
transplants for all of these community gardens.
As a result, the 62" Street garden will resume
in the Fall, and eighteen other communities
have requested assistance from Extension to
establish similar gardens in their
neighborhoods around Miami.
Tampa Likewise the community
garden in Tampa started in 1996 was a success
story. Called Weeds and Seeds, the garden in
a low income area (dubbed "Suitcase City")
reached 50 minority citizens in a positive way.
Through a grant of $13,000, agent assistant
Linda Bell was hired to get the project
underway. She found a location, established
fencing and irrigation, built a storage shed,
prepared and amended the soil, designed and
laid out the plots, then recruited participants.
By Spring planting time the garden was
100% occupied by 50 low income gardeners.
Juvenile offenders from the city worked in the
garden to serve their time positively. A
harvest fair day called "A Garden Blessing,"
capped off the first season's activities.
Jacksonville In 1996 the Jacksonville
Urban Gardening project dubbed Gardening
Lots conducted community gardens at 20
locations in the city's most improvished areas.
These contained 198 plots, on a combined area
of 313,200 sq. feet (7.19 acres). Based on a
USDA formula of $.60 per sq. ft, the
estimated value of the produce from these
gardens was $186,300.00. In addition there
were 20 school gardens, containing $75,000
worth of vegetables on 250,000 sq. ft (5.75
acres). Staff, including Master Gardeners, also
worked with 257 home gardeners, with an area
of 525,000 sq. ft (12 acres) and production
value of $315,000.00. The overall project
involved 3,657 participants and a produce
value of about $576,000.00. The annual
Harvest Fair featured garden exhibits for
competition along with a wide assortment of
educational seminars and events, including a
Orlando In Orange County more
people are gardening in response to
Extension's efforts there, and are changing
practices for the better. Extension surveyed
20% of program participants and found 70%
made these changes: used less toxic sprays
(50%); could ID beneficial insects (36%); used
organic amendments (73%); now use Florida
varieties (79%); plant in correct season (79%);
use animal manures (52%); and harvest at
correct time (55%). Due to Disney's
sponsorship, 560,000 view Extension's
demonstration garden, called "Pamela's
St. Petersburg/Largo The inter-
national vegetable gardens established by the
Pinellas County Master Gardeners at the Ag
Center featured 150 vegetable varieties
displayed in an ethnic fashion (ie. American,
South American, Mexican, Oriental, African,
and Egyptian). Master Gardeners also worked
with 4-H at the Ochs Center to create 80 plots
there and at four other locations. They had a
city grant of $1200 for this project.
Tavares/Leesburg The Master Gardeners
and Lake County Commissioners combined
efforts on a demonstration garden at the
Learning Center. From it they harvested 740
pounds of produce and donated it to the
Leesburg Food Bank. After considerable TV
coverage, area neighbors went out and
collected produce from area backyard gardens
and made further donations to the Food Bank.
As a result of this year's efforts by the Master
Gardeners, plans are to establish a 2-acre plot
from which all of the produce will go to the
(Stephens, Vegetarian 96-11)
Prepared by Extension Vegetable Crops Specialists
Dr. D. J. Cantliffe
Dr. D. N. Maynard
Dr. S. A. Sargent
Mr. J. M. Stephens
Dr. G. J. Hochmuth
Dr. S. M. Olson
Dr. W. M. Stall
Dr. C. S. Vavrina