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What did you do in the garden today?

Discussion in 'Gardening On Your Homestead' started by Beekissed, May 9, 2017.

  1. Dec 5, 2018
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    My experiences with the low tunnels have been mostly good, though I've had trouble with the Agribon material....the cats shred it in two seconds and for some reason just fall in love with it. They want to play on it, sleep on it, and otherwise lay it to ruins. I tried deer and bird netting OVER the Agribon so they couldn't get to it with their claws but to no avail.

    This year I'm collecting flat white sheets from Good Will to use over the tunnels instead...cheaper, hardier, about the same type of sunlight and fluid is let in and I can reuse them for a couple of seasons.

    They are great for growing greens of any and all kinds as it keeps most insects off them...still have a problem with slugs, though. You have to check under there frequently, as one day you can have lettuce that's almost ready for picking and the next it has bolted. Harder to monitor such things when they are covered and you can't check them at a glance as you walk by.

    It's a great place to harden off seedlings. I use a tiny low tunnel erected over my butcher station as a place to grow seedlings, then when they get too big for that space, I put the trays out in the grow tunnels where they can still get sun and rain but have more room to get taller. Since I don't use grow lights, this method allowed me to get sturdier, less leggy seedlings this past year.

    Mini tunnel on my butchering table/outside sink...the only drawback is that it was just too small. May do this on a bigger scale in the spring so when I repot the plants I have more room for them. TEN times better than trying to do the same thing inside on a window ledge.

    100_0659 (2).JPG

    This is just 1/2 x 3 in wood frames with heavy gauge wire cut into half hoops, inserted in between framing.

    100_0688.JPG
     
  2. Dec 5, 2018
    CrealCritter

    CrealCritter Super Self-Sufficient

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    Great info...Bee thanks. So here is my "plan" come the end of January to the beginning of February I plan on laying black 4 mill plastic in-between the rows of my 25' x 50' spring garden and sow my hardy seeds, then 1/2 hardy a couple of weeks later on raised rows.

    I then was thinking about making low tunnels out of 4 mill clear plastic to geminate the seeds and warm the soil. I could open the ends of the low tunnels on days when it's sunny and warm. Once the plants get started I could remove the row covers all together. My goal is to get the spring garden going early because I have the most success when I can get it planted early. The earliest I've sowed was the end of February without and row covers. But by using low tunnels, I'm thinking I might could get everything sowed and started 4 weeks earlier?

    What your thoughts? I'm in zone 6B but sometimes I think it should be zone 7.
    Screenshot_2018-12-04-22-08-00.png
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  3. Dec 5, 2018
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    I think, if you get very sunny days, you may have to do more than open the ends up...most folks who use plastic or glass on a cold frame will usually prop open the whole tunnel/frame. With the plastic so close to the plants, there's always a danger of cooking the tender seedlings inadvertently.

    Do you have a drip irrigation system you will use under the tunnels?
     
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  4. Dec 5, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    You can lift the sides. These are great helpers but, as Beekissed says, they can get too hot. Easier to control in something smaller with less tops to open/close, several 50" rows need more attention. That said, it's a way to get gardens in earlier. With the plastic, you do need to supply water, also. Some spreading from adjacent soil may be enough but, it's something to monitor.

    Heck, I'm just hoping to get plowed and plants in a cold frame early enough to plant "on time".
     
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  5. Dec 5, 2018
    CrealCritter

    CrealCritter Super Self-Sufficient

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    No drip irrigation and no plans for any. Would black landscape fabric in-between the rows be better than plastic? My goal is to warm up the soil. I could pull up plastic when warm weather sets in.

    If I hear you correctly with clear plastic I would need to monitor the temperature inside the tunnels very closely. And potentially open up the whole tunnel so not to burn up the seedlings. Would a white fabic low tunnel covering like your using be a better option?

    I really appreciate you talking with me about this.
     
  6. Dec 5, 2018
    CrealCritter

    CrealCritter Super Self-Sufficient

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    My rows are 25' long spaced 3' apart. I think I have 14 or 15 rows because I have 3' on each end to walk around inside the electric fence. I hear what your saying... I can just imagine trying to roll up 25' of plastic or fabric. Sounds like a major pain the in behind :(

    But I'm bound and determined to get my cabbages, broccoli, califlower and brussels sprouts seeded in the garden by the end of January. Maybe I'll just try 4 rows of low tunnels and see how it goes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  7. Dec 5, 2018
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    I love talking to you about this, CC! One of my fave topics is gardening. :)

    Plastic will warm up the soil but it won't let moisture through and you'll need that if you aren't using drip irrigation. A better option is the landscaping fabric...just the right width for the rows, still warms the soil but lets the rain through. Same with the cloth on the tunnels....the white, opaque nature of the cloth lets in~depending on the wt you use~up to 85% of the sun in a diffuse manner, which keeps the plants warm but not too hot and it lets in all the rain.

    Back in the day, long before landscaping cloth was something backyard gardeners used often, my sister did her whole garden in black plastic in between the rows. One early morning she was out working in the garden and, as the sun warmed the plastic, she started noticing the plastic moving. As the sun grew hotter, the plastic moved more and more, all around her.

    At first she thought it was frogs or something, but she finally pulled back some of the plastic to find hundreds of snakes of all kinds...poisonous and nonpoisonous. She had her husband remove that plastic and never did that again. In fact, I don't think she's had a real garden since then. A few pots on the patio and a bed of rhubarb. :gig
     
  8. Dec 5, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    :ep WOW !!!
     
  9. Dec 8, 2018
    CrealCritter

    CrealCritter Super Self-Sufficient

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    What kind of fabic do you use for low tunnels and where is the best place to puchase it? You convinced me to stick with landscape fabic and ditch the black plastic idea.

    Here's my garden plan (all a 25' rows) space 3' apart, unless otherwise noted.

    2 rows cabbage
    1 row brussels sprouts
    1 row califlower
    1 row broccoli
    1 row collards
    1 row kale
    1 row spinach
    1 row beets
    2 rows carrots
    3 rows lettuce
    3 rows onions (red, white & yellow) spaced 1' apart

    cabbage, brussels sprouts, califlower, broccoli, kale, collards, are all hardy and take the longest to grow to harvest. These are the ones I really would like to get off to an early start. I can and probably will start them indoors under florescent lights so they will be seedlings when I get them in the garden.

    Would a good plan be to lay down black landscape fabic in-between the rows and then make low tunnels over the rows say the end of January or the beginnig of February?

    Spinach, beets, carrots, lettuce I will direct sow and they will sprout when the soil warms. I'll plant onion sets as soon as the show up at the farm store. I don't think I'll need low tunnels for these as long as i lay down landscape fabic in-between the rows - right?
     
  10. Dec 8, 2018
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    I have been using Agribon fabric to cover my tunnels....you can get that about anywhere that sells seeds and even on Amazon. I got mine from Fedco these past few years.

    The landscaping plastic/fabric I use is from Lowe's. Has a brown side or a black side, is permeable, easy to cut into but not good for more than one season unless you treat it real gently. I use landscaping pins to keep it in place...you'll find those right next to the fabric when shopping at Lowe's.
     

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