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I just picked up three 10 foot poly urethane tunnels for season extension, since in the North we have a very VERY short growing season. I was wondering what people had grown in theirs? I'm thinking of starting leafy greens/lettuce/cold hardy kale in March, if we're not buried under 4 feet of snow. I think the book "Four Season Growing" is amazing, but I'd like to know from people's personal experiences as well.

So excited for them to get here, regardless. :sing:
 

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I use plastic for tunnels all the time. If it turns really cold at night, I have to cover them with something. I'd have to do that in March, anyway, so I wouldn't use them until April here. I'm not good at remebering to go out with blankets.

I use them in my hoop house all winter. That and frost blankets make it so I can harvest until mid-Feb.
 

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The best way would be to setup the tunnel. Till and prepare your soil now. get some agribon 19 and lay it on the soil as a blanket for the winter.

In mid February start a tray of your greens. They will sprout and start to grow in a sunny window. Come late march you plant them in the tunnel.

mid may your harvesting.

Here are a few picks from last spring in my hoop.

this is the first week of April.



here is a picture from late may... you can see I've been picking some kale, all the bok choy was harvested, and the summer crops were in. Yep, that's basil it was in the ground 4 weeks before the "last" frost.




Here is a pic of the lettuce... You can see it in the first image at the end of the row. This was planted on Nov. 18th and here it is the following may. We had sustained temps well below zero. With lows to -15F.


p.s. I don't ever heat the hoops with the cold tolerant crops. I will add a small kero heater in late May with the warm season crops to prevent frost if the forecast call for less than 30 degrees outside. it's usually just one or two nights.
 

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You can also do as I did and plant some things in late fall. I did spinach, radishes and lettuce. They sprouted and hung out under the row cover till it started to warm up and they did very well.

Here is a picture of an early May harvest. Note I can't plant outside till the end of may. :)


That is amazing! So excited now!
 

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That is amazing! So excited now!

Yep, it really is. Wait till you see the yields. It will blow your mind.

Here is just a taste of what is possible... Those tomato plants pictured produced 350 pound of slicers and 41 pounds of cherry tomatoes. The kale made 26 pounds of top quality greens. I discarded and didn't count the stuff with cabbage worm holes etc.

I'm still new to protected culture and learning. So I expect the yield to increase by about half again.


p.s. The reason I have the yield in pounds is keeping track from the farm stand sales.
 

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We've been experimenting with cold frames and finally getting the system down. For example we've had temps down to the teens at night, just got our first snowstorm yesterday and can still go out and pick salad greens today.

If you don't know him, check out Eliot Coleman's books Four Season Harvest and Winter Harvest. He's a master. One of his major concepts is you can plant at the end of the summer garden and continue to harvest through the fall and winter. The plants won't grow much once it gets cold, but various varieties are hardy enough to survive.

Here's a great intro to Coleman's technique: http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/pdfs/garden_for_all_seasons.pdf
 
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