Thursday, March 20, 2014

Early Spring Use of Low Tunnels

Constructing a low tunnel. An inexpensive option to extend your season.
Low tunnels can be from 1 1/2' to 3' high

Why the forks?  My feline friends assumed this cozy shelter was for their benefit.

Finished tunnel!

Right now there are seedlings of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, pac choi, and cauliflower in the low tunnels.

It protects them from wind, birds, squirrels, cold, and excessive sun while the seedlings are getting established. Last night was 21 degrees and the plants were content and happy.

In May, I will move these low tunnels to cover tomatoes and peppers.  It will allow me to plant transplants of warm season crop earlier.

An additional layer of protection can be added by putting a floating row cover directly on top of seedlings.

One side is secured and the other I can roll up for access to water.  All these seedlings were started indoors and transplanted to the low tunnels this month.

Another use for row covers is to protect early spring direct seeded crops like peas, carrots, beets, and spinach.

I lay the covers directly on the soil after seeding a bed.  It retains moisture, heat, and protects newly emerging seedlings from birds and squirrels.


How to Construct a Low Tunnel
Use  2 foot lengths of re-bar in sides of bed
Slip ½ PVC pipe over hoops
Attach a center support for extra strength, screw it into PVC (optional)
Cover with light or medium weight row cover for early springs use
Use clamps or clothes pins to hold in place
Make clamps from ¾ PVC cut to 3” then remove portion of pipe to make a clamp or they can be purchased.  In temporary situations clothes pins work fine.
Secure bottom of row covers with pole, landscape staples, or whatever you have on hand.
Ready to plant!

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