|Expanded Poly Tunnel with five ribs|
My original experiment with the poly tunnel went well this summer. Plants grew lush and quickly and neighbors avoided talking to me for fear that I would thrust more lettuce upon them. So when the plastic was damaged by a huge hail storm with 1 inch hail I decided to wait to replace until I was able to expand the basic tunnel from four ribs to five ribs. The tunnel is now 25 feet long.
|Original Tunnel with only four ribs|
In the last week, however we have been getting sub-freezing temps at night. Last night it was 29 F. So replacing the plastic and lengthening the tunnel by four feet had to be completed before temps fell. I have been using the inner tunnel as well as the outer for a week.
|Old tunnel with outer plastic removed.|
To lengthen I merely made another arched set of ribs. Cut the spine between the last two ribs. I used two connectors to insert a four foot piece of PVC extending the end brace out and added the new set of ribs. One of the reasons for the extension was the end tomato plant that was too close to the plastic in these colder temps. The extra room also allowed me to put an inner tent over the tomato plant which has lots of green tomatoes I want to see ripen.
|All boot laced up|
The 29 F last night would have been the end of my growing season without the tunnel. But as you can see in the picture with the plastic off everything is doing fine. I think mustard greens and Swiss chard and some of my herbs will be going for some time. Supposedly the double tunnel can extend my growing season for two more weeks. I have a late planting of lettuce that is now about 4 inches high and as I mentioned before the green tomatoes. And the summer squashes continue to produce zucchini and crook neck squash. I have been pruning back herbs and drying them daily.
An internet article I read said I could even put another layer of plastic over the one I have and lash it down separately and thereby create another thermal layer to further extend the season. I am just not sure how far I want to go with this experiment this year. I find my mind wandering to plans for an early spring start next year. And hoping that with the tunnel my herbs winter over.