low tunnels for use this winter with a frost blanket

I plan to garden through winter this year. I have wanted to do it for a couple years but one thing or another kept me from getting set up.

We decided against framing in one of our metal high tunnels and using plastic on it.... why... heat build up... In zone 8 we get to warm to many days and the heat can build up really fast so I have read if you are over 40 during the day. Growing winter veggies from what I have read on others blog who do this and are growing in much, much colder climates than mine they are using nothing more than low tunnels with frost blankets or plastic. One gals blog that I really admire ... she likes the frost blankets the best.. She grows in zone 6b and has shown many photos of her winter greens and veggies alive and well and healthy under nothing more than a frost blanket.. Even photos with those low tunnels buried in snow and the veggies are fine under the frost blanket once she scoops off the snow lol... we don't get as cold every day but yet we can get very cold here as well at night for one and some during days... so I think over all the frost blankets will be the best answer for us here....

What we used and didn't use and why..
PVC and 9 gauge wire are used a lot from what I am seeing... but here PVC has no life span... the heat destroys it very quickly here if its out in the summer due to the heat.. it gets brittle in one summer and then breaks super easy, simply is baked I guess to the point of brittleness in our sun and heat.. since I am not sure if I will leave my arches in or pull them up each spring we decided against pvc.... 9 gauge wire... well I used that for the low tunnel I did over my saffron bed and it did ok... but it did give way in the torrential rains we had this last spring ...  it was covered with plastic so it was taking a lot of weight in all fairness... it folded... but I was able to pull it back up .. it was super easy for me bend by myself...

However..... We can get 1/4" steel rod here from the steel place cheaper than we can buy the 9 gauge wire at the big box stores.. and its much stronger...

Downside..its harder to bend.... but not for honeyman! He built a jig and bent all the arches for us.. we used 10' foot sticks of 1/4" steel rod.. which cost us 15 cents a foot.. so we had 1.50  in each arch.. Not bad...
We live rural and were able to buy it at a steel place, actually we had two to pick from both within 45 minutes of us. When you live rural to drive 45 minutes to somewhere is not bad at all. Do some research you probably have a place that sells steel rod.

Pushing the rod in the ground was kinda hard but honeyman could do it..I could not have ... well not without soaking the ground first .. we will see how it goes then .. we decided to soak the ground before doing the second row.. DUH ya I know should have done that on the first one LOL...

This is the jig honeyman made to bend the steel rods on ... made from left over pile of wood from one thing or another.

 This is hottie boy  I mean honeyman working :O)

um so ok you can't tell to much about what is going on with the arch here but I really liked this photo  

 and this photo :O) ... yes 32  years later still the cutest a** in Texas in my opinion :O)
 ok back to the project at hand.... bending the arches on the jig ...


The first row we did.. arches are about 32" apart... we are going to use frost blankets not plastic to cover these... for several reasons.... heat build up ... and water... etc..
yes we moved that trellis that was at the end 

When I get my frost blanket on one down the road I will show you guys pictures... I am excited and hopeful.. we will see how the winter veggies do growing through the winter....

While he was bending the rods I made him some snacks
Almond flour, walnut, chocolate chip cookies  These are so good.. nothing but almond flour, walnuts, maple syrup, walnut oil and chocolate chips , baking soda, salt.. thats it... sooo good

 Quiche ...
Pie crust, eggs, jalapeno, fresh spinach, onion, feta, cheddar, tomatoes, salt, pepper.... mmm its good


6 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

I would bet it ain't the heat making your PVC brittle but the sun exposure. Try painting it and see if it still gets brittle so fast. Direct sunlight is the most devastating part of leaving equipment outside day after day.

How did you get those lumpy cookies into that old pair of jeans is what I can't figure out. :)

Just kidding. You know I had to.

Dani said...

It will be interesting to see if the frost blanket allows you to grow veggies in winter. I don't have that problem, thankfully - so peas, fava beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots are what I grow in winter.

northsider dave said...

I look forward to reading and seeing what you grow this winter. We have leeks and Japanese onions growing in our veg plot.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

You make me smile with the comment about your husband! I hope you have good luck with your hoop idea. Would be nice for you to have veggies from it all winter. I tried a cold frame but then when there was a lot of snow i didn't want to wade out in the snow, brush it off and harvest! This year I built the soil back up in it so nothing is planted. I also have Lyme disease so not enough energy anyway. Enjoy yours! Nancy

Jane M said...

I am always looking at winter veggies and definitely admire the zone 6B person for being that dedicated and ambitious. Here I am in suburbia and my next door neighbor of three years is a wonderful organic farmer who keeps putting in more crops....and sharing their bounty with us. Sort of takes away my gardening mojo so I can redirect it into my sewing room. I do thank them profusely with jams and goodies so I hope it's a fair trade. Meanwhile, I love onions so am eager to see how yours do this winter.

Phuong said...

Your cookies and quiche look wonderful. And the wire arches look perfect for your raised beds. I think you'll really like the floating row covers, and it'll mean you can get your tomatoes and peppers out earlier come spring.