Winter Gardening With Low Tunnels

Passion for gardening can’t be turned off or on depending on the weather. So if you live in one of the cold regions of the country, you may be wondering about this time what you can do to extend your gardening season into the winter.

In previous articles we have discussed how you can garden indoors, construct and use a greenhouse or cold frame, protect your plants and shrubs during the winter and select hardier plant species that will grow longer into the winter.

Another alternative to consider is to construct tunnels that will protect a variety of veggies that will grow into the winter. The benefits are obvious. You can continue your passion for gardening while old man winter is visiting and partake in the consumption of tasty vegetables while it is cold outside.

Low Tunnels

Square cages will allow you to grow veggies right to the edge of space. The increased roof height of the square cages will allow foliage plenty of room. Round hoops are less likely to permit water and snow to settle on top, which can cause the upper portion of the tunnel to collapse.

Polyethylene plastic, or greenhouse film makes the area within the tunnel 5°F to 15°F warmer than the outside temperatures depending on weather conditions. If it’s sunny, the temperature differential will be on the upper end; if it is cloudy or nighttime, the temperature difference will be closer to the lower end.

If you are dealing with a small garden, then you can purchase a single kit that measures 9-feet long by 2-feet wide by 18-inches tall. If you have a large garden with several beds and/or want to make custom-sized tunnels, then you probably will want to buy the items individually. They include a 6-mil clear greenhouse film and tall hoops.

If the daytime temperature goes over 55°F for several hours, it is suggested that you remove the cover. Just peel back from one side and bunch on the ground on the other side. If you don’t remove the cover, the hot interior temperature will stress the plants. If this keeps happening, the plants will think it’s spring and go to bloom early. It is also suggested that you remove cover whenever it rains, even if temperatures are in the 30s.

A weight, like a 5-pound rock, should be used to hold the cover down. Don’t use a weight that is too light or the wind gusts will blow the cover off, leaving the plants exposed.

If the region you live is truly frigid, then some modifications on the tunnel may be necessary. You might be able to use soil cables inside the tunnels to make the system work, even in extremely cold conditions. Also keep in mind that the heat inside the tunnel will help to melt the snow that might otherwise bury the tunnel.


About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.