adding support at top of winter tunnel

 
 
A January thaw and lots of rain ahead. For the next two nights our temps won’t fall below 40F. Quite balmy! I plan to open up my collapsed winter garden tunnel tomorrow. I’ll dig it out from under the foot of snow. I’ll plan to put that top support pole on (the one I didn’t get to all fall and caused the tunnel collapse). And I’ll leave the tunnel open for a couple days during this “warm” spell. It’ll be a nice change for the winter greens to have some…
 

winter garden

 
 
My garden is snow covered from an early storm. We got about 5 inches of heavy wet snow yesterday. My winter tunnel collapsed at the ends. I didn’t put the top support on. I’ll do that soon. I use duct tape and attach a PVC pipe along the top apex of each hoop to keep the hoops from collapsing inward. I’m also missing a hoop at the left end. I opened up the tunnel today and loved the feel of the warm humid air that escaped. It’s great how the…
 

winter tunnel

 
 
My winter tunnel is pretty much full of greens. The lettuce is edible size and I’ve started thinning it. Spinach and escarole need to grow a bit. But it’s ready for winter. When temperatures fall, I’ll cover this bed with a layer of plastic and a layer of heavy row cover. Hopefully I’ll be able to eat these greens all winter.
 

another amazing greenhouse

 
 
I walked through the heated greenhouse at Mass Hort, Elm Bank, in Wellesley MA. They’re getting ready for spring. Trays and trays of plugs are growing. Onions, broccoli, and lots of flowers. They have two greenhouses. The small heated one and a large unheated one. Later they will transplant the plugs into larger pots, raise them to transplant size in the large greenhouse, then plant out to their garden. They also have some full size tomato, watermelon, and marigold seedlings ready. I don’t know what they will do with those.…
 

winter tunnel in cold snap

 
 
My winter tunnel kept my plants fine in our cold snap down to low single digits over the past few days. Like last year, the tunnel has two layers, and inner fabric layer and an outer plastic layer. The inner layer is help down by rocks, the outer one by long boards. The bed is heavily planted with all different types of greens, but they are small and covered with two inches of salt marsh hay. I don’t expect these will be ready to harvest until early spring. (I planted…
 

winterized garden

 
 
Here’s a photo of my garden taken 4 day ago. It looks about the same today but with a thin dusting of snow and some ice in places. The winter tunnel covers are up, perennials by the fence and some garlic near the tunnel are mulched with leaves or hay. The pots are turned on their sides, tools and hoses are in the shed. Most beds are empty, some have winter rye seed planted. The seed went in too late to sprout yet, but it will once it warms a…
 

winter tunnel is up

 
 
I put the covers on my winter tunnel this afternoon. A few days before it’s needed. On Friday, our nightime temperature is predicted to drop to 22 degrees F and then into the teens on Saturday. (A bit sudden for us after a mild fall.) With the tunnel up now, a few days before deep cold, it will give a bit of warming to the soil before the deep freeze comes.
 

how I make and use pole and string tomato supports

 
 
The season is fading and I can see my garden structures again. My husband designed these tomato supports for me and I’ve used then probably 10 years now. I used to make tepees out of 10-ft 1×1 inch poles. That worked OK, but poles and string are less work, support the vines better, and give better air flow. Here’s what I do to set up and use pole and string tomato supports. Side support materials: Two 5-ft metal fence poles Two 8-ft wood posts, 2×3 in, with a hole in…
 

my winter bed in May

 
 
I’ll be emptying this bed out soon. Tomatoes will go here for the summer. For now, I’ve left kale and collards to flower for the bees. They love them.
 

winter tunnel after -12 F cold snap

 
 
I’m surprised how well a double tunnel insulates plants. I thought everything would be dead by now. Especially after our record breaking -12.8 F (-25 C) night. Spinach, kale, mustard, bunching onions and cilantro are perfectly happy. (My kale outside of the tunnel is dead.) Lettuce, arugula and chard in the tunnel are cold-singed but will recover fast I think. Probably turnips and daikon radish (the large dead-ish looking plants in the center) are not good choices for a winter tunnel. We’re getting some warm days, 40s and 50s, and…
 
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