After a long winter void of freshly grown foods, most gardeners are eager to get their hands back in the garden. That’s why we turn to season extenders, like cold frames, cloches and low tunnels to get crops in the ground sooner. These season extenders mimc a greenhouse environment, warming the soil so that your favorite veggies will be ready for harvesting earlier in the season.
One great way to get a jumpstart on growing season is by planting your cool-weather crops, like lettuce, kale, kohlrabi and broccoli, in low tunnels. Making low tunnels is simple and requires little equipment—all you need are hoops and row-cover plastic or fabric. Once the weather warms and the low tunnel is no longer needed, you can easily disassemble it and store it in your barn or shed. Alternatively, low tunnels can be used turning the growing season as a barrier to pests.
Easy Low Tunnels
You can buy the low tunnel kits or, for a less expensive option, you can make your own. To make them yourself, deconstruct a flower cage or tomato cage into half-moons and straight pieces. Connect one straight piece to each end of a half-moon piece using tape in order to create one hoop.
Insert at least three hoops over each garden bed you want to cover—one hoop on each end and and one in the middle. Then place the row cover over top, and secure it down with dirt, rocks or something else that can be moved easily. Make sure when purchasing your row cover, it’s wide enough to cover the whole bed. Leave a place at the end of the row that you can vent on warm days, so you don’t scorch your crops.
Watch The Weather
When you start your low tunnel growing will depend on your area of the country and they crops you want to plant. Keep an eye on your area’s last-frost date, and check your seed packets for recommended growing times. With a few tools like low tunnels in place, you’ll be growing food nearly all year-round.