The duo consists of Bonnie Jo Exton, who plays guitar, banjo, and dulcimer and sings harmony, and Brad Exton who plays six and twelve-string guitar and sings lead vocals.A  Both members have spent many years performing various types of music, such as rock, folk, country, traditional, and even orchestral, throughout the western states where they have lived. Both Brad and Bonnie have worked for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and various state parks in the western United States.
We have used greenhouse (hoophouse) space for years to grow vegetable starts for ourselves and our farmer’s market customers. This season, Fall-Winter 2007-2008, is the second year we have grown winter greens for our customers, although we have grown them for ourselves for many years.
We start the kale, collards and the beets and turnips for greens by sowing about 7-10 seeds in 4” pots right after the summer solstice and planting them out in the field in mid July. Other than the flea beetles we kept off the turnips, the only pests which bothered these crops are aphids on the kale and, after the rains start, slugs.
One way we market the winter greens is as a kale bouquet, a bunch containing White Siberian, Rainbow Lacinato and Redbor.
We have harvested all of the winter greens aggressively, since there was demand for all we could pick. The only heat in the hoophouses is provided by agritape, an 11” by 25’ strip of mylar with heating elements embedded in it. When we are germinating onions, lettuce, or other hardy vegetables, we don’t use the agri-tape.
The hoophouse without benches is used for micro-greens grown in a mix of peat moss and humus.
Bonnie received a Performing Arts Scholarship from Colorado State University and has studied music since the second grade, when she took up clarinet and piano. They have both served as Park Rangers, resource managers, and stewards of the land for more than 30 years.


Our customers really value getting fresh and local vegetables in late fall and early spring. We can get a head start on the season by starting hardy vegetables in the hoophouse and transplanting them in February.
We grow five kinds of kale, collards, spinach, turnip and beet greens, chard, arugula, cima di rapa, and some small Asian greens. I had always heard that the flavor is much better after a frost and this year I did a taste test, which confirmed the conventional wisdom.
The new leaves grow more and more slowly as the light declines, and we will stop harvesting this week at the solstice.
We have a 10 x 20’ hoophouse which was here when we started farming, and two 12 x 40’ hoophouses we built within the last year, using plans provided in The Hoophouse Handbook, a booklet from Growing for Market.
The benches in one of the new ones are about 32” high, made of scavenged pallets and 4x4’s. The agritapes are attached to a thermostat controlled by a probe inserted into one of the pots.
Doubling or tripling the winter greens plantings would allow us to leave some untouched in November and December, and available for harvest through the rest of the winter.
Brad is a self-taught musician with a keen ear for music who has written many of his own pieces.
When they took their act on the road, it seemed appropriate to call their little duo, a€?The Ramblina€™ Rangersa€?; the moniker seemed fitting so it stuck! On a clear night, the temperature is often five degrees colder than Forest Grove, only five miles away, and ten or more degrees colder than Portland. Some of the turnips themselves are almost soccer-ball sized now, but they are still producing nice leaves and not bolting.) The other winter greens are direct seeded from late August through September.


If it doesn’t get cold enough to freeze them out, they will start growing nicely in early February and we will start harvesting again a few weeks later. This is an energy–efficient system since only the soil is being heated, not all the air in the hoophouse. Everything planted before mid- September did markedly better than the crops planted in late September. If the outside temperature is well below freezing, we add a layer or two of floating row cover. Both new are cheaper than PVC, and are sometimes available really cheap at the  Re-Building Center.
The ten days in January when the night temperatures got as low as 12?F and the days did not get above freezing wiped out most winter greens varieties, although the collards survived. Agri-tape is manufactured by the Ken-Bar company in Massachusetts and is available through the Oregon Bag Company by special order. As I write this on December 20, 2007, the coldest temperature we have had is 28?F, and almost all the varieties are just fine. As the benches fill up, the hardy vegetable starts are moved to tables outside, and the tomatoes are moved to the benches without agri-tape. Some of the aisles between our raised beds had standing water for four days after the December 3 storm, and even this did not harm them. The plants are alive and even growing but many of the leaves are frost bitten and the emerging buds are mushy.



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