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OSC Activity D.4

Organic production of vegetable transplants for gardeners

Activity Researchers

Name Affiliation
Martine Dorais, Lead Researcher
martine.dorais@agr.gc.ca

Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Horticulture Research and Development Centre
Envirotron Pavilion, Room 2120
Quebec City, QC G1K 7P4

Valérie Gravel, Collaborator
valerie.gravel@mcgill.ca
Associate Professor
Department of Plant Science
Université Laval
Jean-Claude Dufour, Collaborator
Jean-Claude.Dufour@
fsaa.ulaval.ca

Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics and Consumer Sciences
Université Laval

Objectives

In general, to develop an organic greenhouse production system for vegetable and herb transplants for gardeners.  Specifically to:

  1. Determine the optimal organic growing media for producing high quality vegetable transplants
  2. Develop appropriate fertilization management for high quality vegetable and herb transplants
  3. Study the effect of different organic nitrogen forms on growth and transplant quality
  4. Study the effect of plant growth stimulators on transplant quality and disease tolerance
  5. Determine, among the available biodegradable containers the one most suitable for organic vegetable transplant production
  6. Survey consumer demand for organic vegetable and herb transplants (gardening)
  7. Evaluate the profitability of organic transplant production compared to conventional transplants

Activity Summary

The objective of this activity is to develop an organic greenhouse production system for vegetable and herb transplants for gardeners. Experiments will be performed over a three-year period (3 typical production cycles). In the first year of the experiment, five different growing medium will be compared. Tomato, sweet pepper, cucumber and basil transplants will be tested in this experiment. Plant biomass, mineral content of the growing medium and physical properties of the growing medium will be evaluated at each stage of the transplant growth throughout the experiment.

For the second production cycle, the growing medium giving the best results in the first year will be chosen. Tomato and sweet pepper transplants will be tested in this experiment. This experiment will compare three solid fertilizers either incorporated within the growing medium or applied as a top dressing. Four rates of application will be tested. Plant biomass, mineral content of the growing medium and physical properties of the growing medium will be once again evaluated at each stage of the transplant growth.

For the third production cycle, this experiment will compare the effect of different plant growth promoters (PGPM) and biological control agents on the development of tomato and sweet pepper seedlings. Seven treatments will be tested: Kelp meal (solid), Kelp meal extract (liquid), Rootshield®, Mycostop®, Mycorrhizae (for example Myke®), Humic acids, and control (applied at recommended rates). Plant biomass, mineral content of the growing medium and physical properties of the growing medium will be once again evaluated.

Short bioassays will also be performed to test a larger number of plant types. The first series of trials will test the effect of the combination of the growing medium (mineral soil + peat + compost) and solid fertilizers on the development of eight plant types (tomato, sweet pepper, cucumber, broccoli, basil, parsley, cilantro, and oregano). The second series of bioassays will test the effect of plant growth promoters and biological agents on the same eight plant types. The same seven treatments as previously described will be tested.

A consumer survey will also be done over the three year period of the project to evaluate the interest and the demand for organic vegetable transplants. Consumers at the gardening center of Jardinerie Fortier will be surveyed in regards to their purchase habits and their demand for organically grown vegetable transplants. The Jardinerie Fortier, located at Plessiville (QC), is one of the most important bedding and potted plants producers in QC with 1.8 ha of greenhouses. They also produce vegetable and herb transplants for gardeners. They sell part of their product via their garden center, the other part is sold to municipalities and a chain store.

Results