New lab member explores Minnesota greenhouses

Publication date: 
November 4, 2014

Author: Elizabeth Perkus

Hi everybody, I’m the newest member of the Grossman lab!

Welcome Liz

My name is Liz Perkus, and I’m a junior scientist in the lab.  I’m working on a large collaborative project, and many of the people involved welcomed me to the job one month ago at this lovely lunch.

In the month since I’ve arrived, I’ve been planning 3 complimentary projects funded by a MNDrive grant.  The goals of these projects are to investigate current winter greenhouse vegetable production in Minnesota and to come up with recommendations for growers looking to produce vegetables in future winter seasons.

One project is a survey of how five crops do under different greenhouse conditions, so this past week I traveled all over Minnesota to the eight greenhouses we are working with this year.  Some of them are flower growers, like Bergen’s in Detroit Lakes.


Others already grow a variety of vegetables through the winter, like Pork and Plants in Altura.

Hydro lettuce

Three of the eight greenhouses are specialized “deep winter greenhouses.”  They are built specifically for winter growing only, though some people use them as a giant food dehydrator in the summer.  So far, growers have been able to successfully grow a variety of greens, pac choi, kale, cabbage, and broccoli through the Minnesota winters with no added light or heat.  At Paradox Farm in Ashby, they also grow fodder for their milking livestock.

Deep winter goats

At the greenhouses, I planted the first replicate of our crops: a mesclun mix of arugula, mizuna, and red giant mustard, kale, strawberries, spinach, and cucumbers.  I also took measurements on the different potting mixes that each greenhouse uses.  Esther Gesick, a lab technician in John Erwin’s lab, came with me.  At one of the greenhouses, we had a little extra help.

Science cat

Here is what the mesclun mix greens look like about a week and a half after sowing.

Sprouted greens

Hopefully there will be some left over after sampling!