Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Low Tunnel for Greens in Fall-Winter-Spring

The next logical step for the raised bed Art built for my birthday in spring 2011 was to structure a low tunnel over it so cool-weather greens can grow in winter...or at least thrive longer in fall and start earlier in spring.

We looked to Johnny's Seeds for the bits we'd need. First, a bender to turn conduit into hoops-- worthwhile, easy to use, and eminently shareable with your neighbors.

Art holds up hoops so I can visualize where we'll position them. Then he secures them. I need to be able to get inside to clip greens.

You can see the sun on that nice southern brick wall below, our neighbor's building. All credit to Eliot Coleman and his Four Season Harvest, which opened our eyes...
Eliot Coleman introduces the surprising fact that most of the United States has more winter sunshine than the south of France. He shows how North American gardeners can successfully use that sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter vegetables in backyard cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without supplementary heat.

Now for the Agribon, which we laid out on the deck to cut and then tossed over the arches.

We used these Johnny's snap clamps to attach the fabric to a long run of conduit to weigh down the edges.

The conduit concept worked well, and I hope to be able to lift the edge as a single unit when I want to get in there or give the plants some air.

The clamps also keep the fabric taut on the hoops, to hold snow.

I probably wouldn't purchase these plastic clamps again. In the cold weather they're difficult to manage and apply...even in not-so-cold weather they were a pain. Got to be an easier way.

First Chicago snow (late for us)
Dec 8-9, before I got the plastic on

Looks cozy in there

Art decided to make a low tunnel on the roof
for storing buckets in winter.

It might also come in handy this spring for starting seedlings.


Scott said...

I made my own clamps by cutting ~1.5" pieces of the same diameter PVC as the hoop. Then I cut those pieces so they resembled a "C." They snap pretty snugly on the hoops depending on how wide your "C" is. I used a file to smooth out the sharp edges so they wouldn't cut my cover.

H2 said...

Clever approach, Scott. Thanks for sharing it.

Debbie said...

Looks wonderful H2 and Art! What is the height of those hoops?

H2 said...

From the ground, maybe 4 feet, maybe more. I'll have to scrunch down to get in there...or lift the edge, which is what I'm hoping to do to access and air out.