Growing a Bounty for Foodsheds in the South Plains/Permian Basin

By Laura Russell (OC Intern)

Ethan Carter grew up in Lubbock, TX, and supplies vegetables, microgreens, and mushrooms to restaurants and Farmer’s Markets for much of the Lubbock area and the Permian Basin. 

For his transplants, he uses an innovative speedy method of planting – chain paper pots, a product from Japan. These pots allow him to plant his seeds indoors to give them extra grow time before transplanting them into the high tunnel. It also makes the transplanting process much simpler. Shown in this photo are his lettuce (left), kohlrabi (middle), and fennel (right).

For microgreens, he uses 1” trays with potting soil that is watered, seeded, and stacked for 3 days. The microgreens are then placed under lights to grow for a week and are then harvested for restaurants and Farmers Markets.

Pictured here from top to bottom:

Radish (Green and Purple)
Purple Kohlrabi
Red Cabbage

He wraps his high tunnels with clear plastic. When planting heavier plants such as radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., clear plastic is desired because it allows enough photosynthetic available radiation (sunlight), to penetrate through so the plants have proper energy to grow. This is called interplanting, where rows are varied with different crops, and it can help deter pests and promote space efficient growth.

Left to Right:

Kale to Lettuce to Arugula
Head Lettuce interplanted with Radishes
Lettuce (3rd regrowth) to Arugula
Spinach to Radishes

Pictured here :

Heads of lettuce and kohlrabi interplanted with fast radishes for maximum production

Ethan grows 19 different varieties of mushrooms with a tedious process to create the right substrate and environment. He creates a sawdust type material that consists of a substrate mix of wet to dry. The dry material includes 100% oak (right) and shells of soybeans (left) which contain 7.5% protein that triples his yield. This is atmospherically pasteurized in a barrel for 8 to 24 hours to turn into a 12 pound block when fully hydrated.

Pictured here :

Freshly made blocks (left)
Just inoculated blocks (middle)
Cooling down blocks (right)

In a separate step, the whole oats, which are the first inoculant, are soaked in water for 24 hours, drained, bagged, and then pressure cooked with temperatures over 212 degrees for hours to sterilize. The grain is then inoculated with a culture to colonize it, broken up, and added to the sawdust mix (seen as soil in last photo).

Pictured here :

Soaking oats(left)
Bagged oats (right)

Pictured here :

Snow Oyster Mushroom Culture cloned from a harvested fruit body.

One of these varieties is Hericium Erinaceus, i.e., Lion’s Mane, seen here. Known for its medicinal benefits, one of which is boosting memory capability. It has been shown to help those with dementia/Alzheimer’s.

You can find Ethan at many markets including Lubbock Downtown, Wolfforth, Slaton, and Midland Downtown. Contact him at and check out his Facebook – E3Farm or webpage – E3 Farms

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