Welcome to Cultivating Thoughts, a new column that will appear each month in Country Folks Grower.

I’m currently a professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State. I was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. I vividly remember dairy cows being paraded past our elementary school windows on the way to be milked. Later, I obtained two undergraduate degrees, one in 1967 in economics and business from Lebanon Valley College, and the other in 1975 in horticulture from Delaware Valley College. Afterward, I matriculated to the Department of Vegetable Crops at Cornell University, where I received my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

Over my career in academia, I established an extensive background in applied research, Extension programing, teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels and service to commodity and professional organizations. At Penn State, I was responsible statewide for the culture and management of vegetable crops with my colleague Dr. Michael Orzolek. Prior to moving to Pennsylvania in 1997, I taught both undergraduate and graduate level courses and conducted applied research in the Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources at Kansas State University. Before being employed at Kansas State, I was an Extension Vegetable Specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University, working with both field and greenhouse vegetable production. Over the years I became a recognized leader nationally and internationally in the field of plasticulture; I authored numerous research and Extension publications on vegetable crops, drip irrigation, plastic mulches, row covers, low tunnels, high tunnels, greenhouse vegetable production and disposing of used plastics (both ag and consumer) by use of a burner that burned the plastics at 2,000º F, creating hot water or potentially steam and electricity.

I was program chair for the first and succeeding educational seminars/workshops on “Using Plasticulture Technology for Intensive Production of Vegetable Crops,” sponsored by the American Society for Horticultural Science, of which I was selected a Fellow in 2006. I served in leadership positions as Extension Division Vice President, president of ASHS and chair of the Board of Directors of ASHS. I also had the opportunity to organize other short courses on plasticulture both within and outside the U.S. Many of the short courses and seminars were sponsored or co-sponsored by the American Society for Plasticulture, of which I am a past president and from which I received the Distinguished Service Award in 1999 and the Pioneer Award in 2009.

Toward the end of my career at Penn State I worked in helping to establish high tunnels in the City of Philadelphia to promote the production of vegetables and winter production of greens and other crops.

Currently, my spouse Phyllis and I live on 28 acres outside of State College, PA. We are in the process of putting up a 21-by-96-foot-high tunnel to grow vegetables.

In this new column, I hope to share information on a wide range of topics such as plasticulture, which includes plastic mulches, drip irrigation, row covers, low tunnels and high tunnels; thoughts on organic production techniques and cover crop usage; proper timing and establishment of a crop, whether using direct seeding methods or transplanting; proper use of fertigation in vegetable production; and sharing successful grower profiles. I want to encourage feedback and hear about topics you would like to learn more about, so feel free to contact me at wlamont@psu.edu.

I look forward to “Cultivating Thoughts” in future columns.