Spring is bringing another growing season to Fowler’s Greenhorn Acres…
As the first busy weeks of spring planting began, Marcy Nameth, who owns and operates Greenhorn Acres with her four sons, took a moment to reflect on one of last year’s most successful experiments: sweet potatoes.
Colorado is an ideal place to grow melons and peppers, onions, potatoes and grains. But sweet potatoes? Not so much. “The conventional wisdom is they just don’t grow in Colorado, although we might well be on the dividing line here since we usually get pretty warm down along the Arkansas River,” notes Marcy, who farms near Fowler.
She admits sometimes it takes some sleuthing to find out what crops will work in a given place. And the results can be surprising. Late last season Greenhorn Acres ended up with a nice harvest of large, dark-fleshed Beauregard sweet potatoes. “I was talking to an old-timer recently and he said they used to grow sweet potatoes when he was a kid, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t use black plastic mulch and drip irrigation,” she adds. “Just goes to show there’s nothing new under the sun! It could be that last year was a fluke; maybe the 2-plus inches of rain we had along with the hail and tornado are what really did the trick, not the drip and plastic mulch! I think individual cultivars and micro-climates are the key to borderline-adaptable crops and trees – almonds, pecans and figs come to mind, even peaches and apricots. Then too there’s the variance from year to year. We never have a good crop of kohlrabi because it usually gets too hot too fast, but last year we had some nice ones. So I think it’s absolutely worth it to push the envelope. Sometimes it works and sometimes not, but we keep planting anyway.”